2014: A New Era for Freelancers, Solidarity and Unionism
By datejie cheko green, Canadian Media Guild
As freelancers we cherish our independence. That’s why few could be faulted for mistaking “freelancer’s union” as a dictionary illustration of an oxymoron. Yet we’ve just come through an unprecedented year of shared trials (as foretold and reported by the editor of this publication in 2013: The Year of the Angry Freelancer) that give us pause to consider how we can organize more constructively and collectively to improve our lot.
As this same editor has so optimistically signalled, 2014 bodes well for us to flex beyond the familiarity of rugged individualism and try some solidarity and solutions on for size. And what better way than with the support of the labour union that has similarly flexed its historic framework to accommodate and prioritize freelancers, The Canadian Media Guild.
Over the past few years, CMG has taken stock of the changing landscape of news and media production, freelancing and work. We’ve concentrated on figuring out how we, as a union, can adapt to the growing self-employed workforce that deals with multiple engagers, and provide practical and effective supports to individuals and groups.
CMG Freelance is open to all freelance writers and journalists, as well as consultants and self-employed workers in all media, creative, communications, IT and knowledge sectors. Our membership recognizes that the ever-expanding convergence of platforms and expected freelancer versatility across genres has made the distinctions between roles smaller than ever before. At CMG, our track record representing CBC freelance workers makes us well placed to be responsive to these complex and shifting work realities.
In fact, we’ve already got a head start on The Born Freelancer’s 2013 Holiday Wish List with a variety of supports, small and big. With a CMG freelance membership, not only do you receive a member card and free CMG calendar, you get access to our Union Savings that include cheaper smart phone plans, lower credit card and insurance rates, and more. You’re also eligible to join an affordable group health benefits plan for you and your family.
CMG Freelance is preparing a dedicated website for our members, complete with a modern Freelance Member Directory to help connect you to potential engagers as well as each other. And we’re working on practical strategies to generate “contracts that mean what they say… And say what they mean” backed by CMG’s clout and other industry partners.
You’ve seen the CMG’s influence. We spoke up in early 2013 against Transcontinental Media’s proposal to gut freelancers’ terms of work. Faced with pressure from freelancers, the CMG, and others, Transcontinental backed down and made changes to their freelance agreement.
Where other engagers similarly seek to exploit freelancers, whether in media or other fields of creative, communications, IT and knowledge production, CMG is offering our decades of contract expertise to help with individual advice and negotiation strategies.
We have practical solutions, educational workshops, and more plans to support freelancers ready to roll out in 2014, and we hope you’ll join our program and add your voice.
Over the past year, Story Board has shown us that sharing information is a crucial, and notably courageous, first step on the journey toward greater awareness of our work and working conditions. But if we also dare to ally ourselves strategically and find avenues to pool our collective talents, it can only contribute exponentially to the greater good of our crafts, sectors and livelihoods. Independent work combined with collective strength may be a very worthwhile new year’s resolution, indeed.
Best wishes for a new year of solidarity, solutions and respect from CMG Freelance.
For more information or to become a member of CMG Freelance, please follow this link.