Hundreds of new members join CEP
TORONTO (Jan. 2012) -- In the face of a difficult economy and strong management opposition, workers at several workplaces in the communications and media sectors have recently become the newest CEP members. Pictured above, is the new Intek Communications Inc union negotiating committee. From left to right, are Liviu Catana, Ryan Burtch, and Kelvin Kou, with National Represenatives Marvin Pupeza and Nena Bogdanovich.
CEP organizes hundreds of communications and media workers
Beginning in 2010 and throughout 2011, nearly 500 communications technicians working for several independent contractors who perform installation and service of cable, internet and telephone under contract to Rogers Communications Inc. have joined CEP.
The majority of employees work in the Greater Toronto Area including Durham, York and Simcoe Regions. A small number work in and out of London, Ontario.
The five newly certified bargaining units include two groups of employees from Dependable HomeTech in the GTA and London, two groups of employees from SC 360 in the GTA and London, and a bargaining unit of employees with Intek Communications working in the GTA.
First contract negotiations are ongoing or pending between CEP and each of these employers.
A new application for certification for a bargaining unit of over 200 employees at Wirecomm Systems Inc. was filed in November 2010 and is presently before the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB). It is expected that the newest application will be dealt with by the CIRB within a few weeks.
Workers and staff organizers faced a number of difficulties during these organizing drives.
"Due to the nature of their work, these communications technicians are on the road most of the time and it was very difficult and time-consuming to meet up with them to discuss the union drive and get cards signed," said CEP National Representative Cherie Hunter. "I have probably had meetings with small groups and individual workers in every single Tim Horton's coffee shop in the GTA at least once during these organizing drives!"
Unfair and unlawful treatment of employee organizers and union supporters during some of these drives resulted in several unfair labour practice charges being filed by CEP. A number of those issues have now been successfully resolved but some remain outstanding.
Following the earliest certification, the company involved, Dependable HomeTech, pursued but was unsuccessful in a court challenge to the constitutional jurisdiction of the CIRB. The same company was recently found by the CIRB to have violated the statutory freeze provisions of the Canada Labour Code.
CEP also filed unfair labour practice and bad-faith bargaining charges against Intek Communications Inc. related to its conduct during the organizing drive and continuing through the ongoing bargaining process. Three days of hearings dealing with these charges were held in December 2011 at the CIRB with three more days scheduled in February.
CEP has chartered a new composite Local union, Local 5011, to serve as a home to these new members. While each bargaining unit will have its own collective agreement, the workers at these companies have much in common as they all perform similar work for the same client – Rogers Communications Inc.
"We're happy to welcome these new members to the CEP and proud that they have chosen us as the union to represent them," said Kim Ginter, Vice-President, Ontario Region. "Our congratulations go out to these workers who have taken a stand in demanding fair treatment and a voice in their workplace. We look forward to negotiating a strong contract that values the hard work that they do. We also look forward to raising the bar for all communications technicians by organizing many more workers in the coming months who work for the remaining contractors to Rogers, Cogeco and other cable providers in Ontario."
More media workers at CEP
CEP has also been busy organizing workers in the media sector in the last year. Despite solid profits made by some of the biggest players in the Canadian media industry, employees have continued to be squeezed by increasing workloads, unfair treatment and wages that do not keep up with the cost of living. Finally, many of these workers have said "enough is enough" and have taken the necessary steps to have a say in their respective workplaces.
In early 2011, 100 workers at the Bell TV Broadcast Centre in Toronto overwhelmingly supported joining CEP. This group of employees working in a division of the communications and media giant Bell Canada realized that they were losing ground when compared to their unionized counterparts performing similar work at Bell Media subsidiaries. With the assistance of CEP, they successfully organized themselves and are now in first contract negotiations with their employer as members of CEP Local 79M.
Local 79M represents employees at Bell Media subsidiary CTV, as well as employees at Rogers Sportsnet and Rogers Shopping Channel. In the summer of 2011, CEP Local 79M went on to successfully organize a small group of employees at the NHL Network, a specialty channel partly owned by Bell Canada.
The latest group of media workers to join CEP are employed at OMNI TV, a division of Rogers Communications Inc. Approximately 100 full-time and part-time editorial and creative employees are the newest members of CEP Local 723M joining their colleagues in the OMNI TV Operations and Technical bargaining unit who are already represented by CEP. As a result of a small but determined group of employee organizers and with the assistance of CEP Ontario Region Organizers, CEP Local 723M and their union colleagues at OMNI and Citytv, this group of women and men will finally have access to justice and fairness in their workplace.