Cultural groups unite in opposition to Transcontinental Media’s draconian freelance contract
March 4, 2013 - Transcontinental Media is forcing its Canadian freelance writers and photographers to sign a contract that strips them of all rights to their work, without providing reasonable compensation, or even the chance to negotiate.
The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) and its freelance local, the Canadian Freelance Union (CFU) stands in deep opposition to this move.
"It's disgusting. Freelancers try desperately to earn something from their creative talents, and now have a vast media empire looking to snatch all rights to their work. We will not stand by and let this company trample long-held creative rights. They are too important to those working in the media," said Peter Murdoch, Vice-President Media for the CEP.
CEP is Canada's largest media union, representing thousands of workers at newspapers across the country.
Under this new Transcontinental contract, a freelancer's work becomes the exclusive property of the company. In effect, a freelancer's work is treated exactly the same as if it were produced by a staff writer or photographer – but with a few major differences: The freelancer is paid peanuts, has no job security, has no access to basic workplace benefits, and is not even eligible for simple things like Employment Insurance.
"It's the ultimate 'having your cake and eating it too' scenario," says Michael OReilly, CFU President. "Transcontinental takes all the benefits for itself, and avoids all the responsibilities that typically go with having workers. It's a sad day indeed when Canada's largest printer, with revenues of over $2 billion, goes on a direct attack against some of the lowest-paid cultural workers in this country."
The Canadian Freelance Union is helping lead a broad coalition of organizations who stand in opposition to this new contract.