some vacation!

When you're a rural telecommuter, being locked out is a lonely business.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


It's over. Well and truly done, save the ratification vote. (If you think there's any chance this won't pass, I've got some lovely "wetland" on the Saugeen River I'd like to show you...).

I had a bit of a cry today. OK, I teared up at least 3 times in the last 24 hours. I guess I didn't realize how much tension I was holding in my body until I let it all out. Glad that's done.

I still don't know where I'm going to stand once this deal is ratified and we sit down to look at the fine print in our individual contracts. The president of the union says I'll convert to staff, the head of my department says "no, I don't think so". Who's right?

Perhaps all will be revealed tomorrow at the pre-ratification meeting. I can't be there, alas. Hey - anyone want to hold a cell phone up to a speaker and ask the reps what's going to happen to us fixed-term freelancers now that our contract catagory is gone? I'd appreciate it.

Not that it'll change my vote (by proxy), but it would be nice to know...

OK. Wind-down time. Thanks, first:

Thanks to all the amazing bloggers out there (Robin, John, WorkerBee etc.) who provided the valuable information and good humour that kept me sane when this all began and I couldn't be out there picketing. Thanks to everyone who wrote. And a thousand thanks and a great big giant hug to you, Tod Maffin. You not only kept an astonishing blog but you got out there across the country out of sheer love for your work and ours. You were everyone's lifeline and a touchstone in this madness. You're my hero, too.

This blog will continue on as a chronicle of the miscellaneous mundane meanderings of my life. If you care to drop by, you're always welcome.

Monday, October 03, 2005

pfffft, pfffft, pfffft

Maybe I should be blowing those balloons up after all.

At first blush, this looks amazing:

- Contract employees who have been on contract for four years will be allowed to convert to staff if they wish. Any contract employee who has four years of service on ratification will be allowed to convert immediately.
- The approximately 90 contract employees now working in Television A&E, Radio Drama and Comedy and Sports will also have, for the first time, the opportunity to convert to staff. Those who remain on contract cannot be terminated during their contracts except for just cause or lack of work.
- Contract employees will have access to pension after two-years of employment including a buyback option. This buyback option will also apply to any contract employee who chooses to convert to staff.
- Contract employees will be entitled to severance pay.
- Contract employees who have worked 5 consecutive contracts of nine or more months but less than 1 year for 5 consecutive years will be credited with actual time worked for seniority purposes at the time of hiring into a permanent position. "

And it looks like retroactivity does apply, after all.

Thanks again to all of you who negotiated on our behalf. You fought a long uphill battle. I think many of us expected a victory would be a deal in which we didn't lose a pile of rights. I dare say I didn't expect to gain a pile of new ones.

Marvelous work, all.

from the latest CMG news

Fssssssssst. There goes one party balloon.

I think this quote from the latest CMG note answers my question about retroactivity regarding staff conversion for fixed-term freelancers:

"People who have been on contract for four years can convert to permanent status, including employees working in Arts & Entertainment who have been denied that right since 1996. That provision is ongoing, so that anyone on contract who completes 4 years of service during the life of the agreement will be able to convert to permanent status."

Unless I've mis-read, it looks like my 12+ plus years as a fixed-term freelancer will NOT count towards staff conversion. I've got to put in 4 more years under this new, better, agreement. I await the full text, in case provisions for retroactivity are in there somewhere.

But even if they aren't, we fight this fight not for ourselves but those coming up behind us, right? And for them, this is a brilliant and long-overdue deal.

yes, we have no tomatoes

Sorry to those of you on the T.O. line who've been anticipating the Tuesday tomatoes. We're just about done for the season.

But we do have APPLES! Lots of them!

I've just come back in from picking. Highlights include one wasp sting, a few Newtonian bonks on the head and one brief downpour of biblical proportions (10 minutes later and the sun is struggling it's way through the thinning clouds, of course).

But I've got them - 3 varieties - and I'm bringing them for noon Tuesday. All this AND a deal in the works.

What bounty!

break out the (cheap) bubbly!

I'm overwhelmed by the news that we have an agreement in principle. Finally. And from the looks of what few details we have to go on, this is not a "settle for" deal but a best case scenario, at least for my small sub-catagory of workers.

I'm awaiting the details on the elimination of the freelance fixed-term contract catagory with guarded enthusiasm. I wrote about my experiences with this contract catagory for the CMG website back in week 3. If you care to see that rambling missive, it's here.

In a nutshell, I have worked continuously for more than 12 years on the same program, but the CBC has considered me an independent contractor selling a specific service to the corporation for the duration. Despite my commitment to the same program over the long-term, I have never been offered a staff position or paid benefits of any kind.

Here's how I phrased it:

I inhabit a land of employment limbo, populated by people like myself who are staff by intent, freelance by contract.

I never expected a job for life. I'm thankful every day that I've had such an amazing run doing something I love, with people I respect, for a corporation I have felt passionate about since I was seven years old. I'm happy to be paid fairly for my work. As a freelance contract worker, I'm also keenly aware how fragile my relationship is with the CBC.

It feels like I have chosen to marry myself to the CBC, but after 13 years, the CBC acts like we're still just dating. One day I'll get the news that my program is no longer wanted and that will be it. Thanks, that was fun, goodbye. No severance pay, no opportunity for lateral movement within the corporation.

So, could it really be true that after 12 consecutive years as a "freelancer" on the same program I will become eligable for a staff position? With real benefits? Or will there be wiggle room here... staff contracts for full-timers, some other kind of contract for people like myself who keep a home office and deliver a weekly show?

This will be an anxious couple of days while I wait for details.

That being said, thank you, thank you, thank you to the union negotiating team. You showed tireless devotion and sheer ballsiness. You said you wouldn't cave and it appears that you didn't.