Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Moment the Greatest Job the Next Moment Not

What was the greatest job in the world one moment became the most difficult job the next moment. What a difference if the union drive that started at the Edmonton Sun in 2007 would have been successful. A collective agreement could have provided the opportunity to file a grievance. Without a collective agreement the only option is to sue. Which is going to be a costly process and likely take years to get settled. Most of us have to move on to the next job so that we can pay our bills.

Former columnist sues Edmonton Sun for $2.28M

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | 3:09 PM MT

A former columnist with the Edmonton Sun is suing the newspaper for $2.28 million, saying his treatment by management means he'll never work as a journalist again.

Kerry Diotte says he was demoted as the Sun's legislature bureau chief in October 2009 in a dispute with his editor-in-chief. He left the newspaper shortly afterwards.

Diotte is asking his former employer to compensate him for lost wages and benefits as well as medical costs for the chronic depression he says was triggered by the incident.

Diotte's statement of claim was filed in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench on May 20.

"I really don't look forward going through it but I have to fight," Diotte told CBC News on Wednesday.

"They've ended my career, essentially, and I had a pretty good reputation as a journalist and that's worth fighting for."

Diotte hired Robert White to represent him in the lawsuit. White is the Edmonton lawyer who recently defended Syncrude on environmental charges in the deaths of 1,600 ducks on a tailings pond.

Dispute arose over repeated use of MLA in stories

Diotte became the bureau chief at the Alberta Legislature in January 2009 after the Sun moved him from his position as city columnist.

According to the statement of claim, Jose Rodriguez, the editor-in-chief of the Sun papers in Calgary and Edmonton, sent Diotte an email on Sept. 30, 2009, expressing concerns about how often Diotte used Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald in his stories — an amount Rodriguez felt was "disproportionate" to the coverage given to other MLAs.

Diotte was to rectify the "imbalance in his reporting," Rodriguez said in the email quoted in the court document.

That same day, MacDonald contacted Diotte with information showing the government had increased bonuses to its executive staff in the previous year.

This was a story Diotte would have normally written, the statement of claim says, "but given the directive by Mr. Rodriguez that very day, he complied with the directive and did not write and file the story."

The story featured prominently on the front page of the Calgary Herald the next day, prompting Rodriguez to call Diotte and demand an explanation as to why the Sun didn't have the story as well.

Diotte told Rodriguez he was following his directive from the previous day. Diotte says he was then ordered to leave the legislature office and report to Edmonton Sun managing editor Donna Harker.

For a week afterwards, Diotte worked out of the newsroom on stories he felt inappropriate for someone of his experience and standing. One such story was the arrival at the Edmonton airport of stray dogs rescued in California.

The change in assignment was noticed by Diotte's colleagues, who started asking questions. Diotte was "embarrassed to the point of humiliation," the statement of claim says.

Diotte reassigned after meeting

On Oct. 6, Diotte met with Rodriguez in person. Diotte was reprimanded by Rodriguez and then fired as bureau chief and reassigned as a general assignment reporter, which Diotte viewed as a demotion.

The statement of claim suggests Rodriguez also criticized Diotte's work and "scorned" his abilities as a journalist.

Diotte worked the remainder of the week and then took a week off in hopes he would recover from what happened. But he claims he did not. Instead, the incident triggered a chronic depression which required ongoing medical treatment.

"As a direct and foreseeable result of the Defendant's actions and failures [Diotte] has not been able to work as a journalist since, and will not be able to do so again," the court document states.

The demotion destroyed Diotte's "repuation, credit and standing as a journalist," the lawsuit claims. It also states Diotte feels he can no longer work as a journalism instructor at Grant MacEwan University.

The allegations contained within the statement of claim have not been proven in court. Officials with the Edmonton Sun have been unavailable for comment nor has the newspaper filed a statement of defence.

Diotte is considering running for a seat on city council in this fall's municipal election, but says he misses his work as a journalist.

"It's the greatest career in the world and being a columnist at the Edmonton Sun was probably the best job that I could think of in the world," he said. "So it's tough. It's tough to be out of the business."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Edmonton Sun Unionizing Drive

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Edmonton union drive

Employees of Quebecor's thinning Edmonton Sun and Edmonton Examiner launched a united union organizing committee Wednesday, with CEP union reps soon arriving to hand out leaflets.

The union says approximately 200 employees in the building gave the union reps and organizers a warm welcome, with many saying a union was long overdue.

Management attempted to force organizers off the parking lot, but they pointed out the property wasn't owned by Sun Media/Quebecor and they refused to budge.

Employees have been complaining of heavy and increasing workloads, pay raises averaging half the rate of inflation, no grids, no overtime, arbitrary changes in sales commission plans, and very poor morale, says the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

Employees of both papers notified their publishers they had formed a union organizing committee. Soon after, members of the organizing committee, along with Ray Wade, CEP Local 255-G president, and Brad Honywill, CEP Local 87-M (SONG) president, were outside the building handing out leaflets announcing the drive.

Honywill said the goal is to get 40% of the Sun and Examiner employees to sign cards saying they favour a union. If that is accomplished, the Alberta Labour Relations board would oversee a secret vote.

The profitable Edmonton Sun, hammered by cutbacks, layoffs, buyouts and resignations in the past year, is down to about 150 employees, said one source.

"I've never seen a group of employees so demoralized," said Honywill. "And it's obvious from the size of the paper that it is thriving. But the employees aren't sharing in that success."

Honywill said it appears as if a typical reporter earns about $45,000 a year at the Edmonton Sun, compared to a rate of $76,000 per year for reporters in the unionized Toronto Sun newsroom.

And, he says, Edmonton Sun reporters' rate will go down by 3% this year in real terms because they got an average wage increase of 2% when the Alberta inflation rate is 5%.

What's more, they don't get recognized for experience because there is no grid, he said.

"Some people in Toronto may have forgotten what life was like before they had a union," says Honywill. "The Edmonton situation is a poignant reminder."

He said SONG has organized five Sun Media units in the last four years, including:

Sales/circulation/production employees at the London Free Press;

Editorial units at the Toronto Sun and Ottawa Sun;

Pre-press at the Toronto Sun;

Most of the Simcoe Reformer staff.

"It is now playing a lead role in the drive at the Edmonton Sun," said Honywill.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Medicine Hat Educational Assistants Organize

Medicine Hat Educational Assistants join CUPE

May 17, 2010 03:40 PM

Medecine Hat, Alberta – Recently, one hundred and sixty-five Educational Assistants, working for the Medicine Hat Public School Board, voted 78 per cent in favour of becoming the newest members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The new members join custodial and clerical staff at the board as the third unit of CUPE Local 829, which also represents education workers at the Catholic and Prairie Rose School Divisions.

CUPE Alberta President Dennis Mol said the group joined CUPE because they are looking for better provisions for summer layoff and a pension plan. "Almost every unionized Educational Assistant in the province is part of a pension plan, so that will be a top priority for bargaining," said Mol.

CUPE represents over 7,400 non teaching staff in Alberta and over 110,000 across Canada.

"By joining CUPE, this group gets access to a large network of labour relations experts, massive research resources in the field of education, assistance with bargaining, dispute resolution and public relations. CUPE has faced many issues in education already and we can use our experience to assist these new members," said Mol.

For further information:
Lou Arab, Communications Representative
(780) 271-2722

Monday, October 5, 2009

Support Workers at Foothills School Division Join Union

Foothills School Division joins CUPE family

Oct 5, 2009 11:55 AM

CALGARY -- Almost 180 school support workers at Foothills School Division will merge their staff association into CUPE.

The employees, including Educational Assistants, clerical, technical and library staff, sought to join CUPE feeling their employer did not respect their association or their collective agreement. The members voted 66% in favour of the merger.

The employees join 7,500 other CUPE members from the K-12 sector in Alberta. CUPE represents more school district employees in the province than any other union.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

Interesting that the corporations have broke this economy. It is not the employees fault as the corporation does not want the employees to provide customer service as that cost money.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Does Your Job Site Need a Union

If your presently working in a non union environment the basic rules that the employer has to follow can be found in the Labour Standards legislation if the various provinces of Canada. Unless your work happened to fall under federally regulated industries which would mean that your employer would have to follow the federal labour standards.

The first step in organizing a work site can be found at many of the unionized websites listed on the site of the blog. Please give them a call a union representative would be happy to go over what is required to organize your work site.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Well this is start. If you happen to work at the Ste-Hyacithe Wal-Mart you will be working under a union contract. Now we just need to organize the rest of the Wal-Mart's.

Union contract imposed at Ste-Hyacinthe Wal-Mart

Two hundred workers to receive raise of 30 cents an hour.

Dateline: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE)

STE-HYACINTHE, April 10, 2009 — A Québec arbitrator has imposed the first legal union contract on Wal-Mart in North America, nearly four years after workers at its retail store in Ste-Hyacinthe voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada).

The company refused to say whether it would close the store to keep its operations free of unions, an option it exercised in 2004 after employees at another Québec store in Jonquière voted to unionize.

Giant retailer won't say whether it will close store as it did when operations were unionized in Jonquière and Gatineau.

Last October, the company also closed a small automotive shop in Gatineau, QC, across the river from Ottawa, after employees unionized and an arbitrator imposed a contract granting workers a 33 percent increase.

The excuse used by the Arkansas-based retail giant to justify both closures was that its operations would not be make enough money with unionized staff.

Since the Gatineau closure, employees at Wal-Mart's main Gatineau retail operation have also voted to join UFCW Canada.

The Ste-Hyacinthe ruling affects approximately 200 workers. The agreement gives them a 30-cent-an-hour increase annually over a two-year contract. Newly hired employees will not be entitled to the increase.

UFCW Canada spokesman Louis Bolduc said employees are delighted. "We feel good," he told the CBC. "It's the only collective agreement [of its kind] in North America. We're really glad to have one."

NUPGE has signed a protocol with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada) to support and cooperate in the UFCW's campaign to organize workers at Wal-Mart stores across Canada.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is a family of 11 component unions. Taken together they are one of the largest unions in Canada. Most of the 340,000 members work to deliver public services of every kind to the citizens of their home provinces. There is also a large and growing number of members who work for private businesses.

LINK http://www.straightgoods.ca/2009/ViewFeature.cfm?Ref=266