Alberta Publishing company and CEO Ruth Kelly leave their freelance content creators shivering through the winter – Hire now; pay much, much later

Edmonton, February 22, 2017 – Venture Publishing Inc. of Edmonton and its CEO Ruth Kelly have developed a disturbing business model when it comes to paying the freelance contributors hired to create articles, photos, and illustrations for the various magazines the company produces, such as Alberta Venture, Alberta Oil, and Heroes on behalf of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.

For several years, Venture Publishing has contracted freelance writers, photographers, graphic designers, and illustrators to produce content, and then failed to pay them in a timely manner, or at all.

Venture Publishing currently owes tens of thousands of dollars to these freelancers, and has failed to make good on constant promises to pay them for their work. For those freelancers who do get paid, Venture takes months, or even years, to fulfill its financial obligations.

“Many of the people we’re representing have told me how frustrated they have been, and how some have had their credit ratings ruined because they couldn’t pay bills they were counting on covering with income owed from Venture,” said Canadian Media Guild (CMG) Freelance Branch President Don Genova. “It’s shocking that Ruth Kelly feels she can commission people to fill their magazines with high quality photos, stories, and illustrations, and then not bother to pay them for months and months, leaving her editors, art directors, and financial people to make excuses about why the cheques haven’t been sent. I wonder how the Alberta Congress Board feels now about selecting her as the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Workplace Leader award, when she treats her content providers like this.”

In 2016, a CMG Freelance Branch member approached Genova for help in getting the pay she was owed. Genova soon discovered other freelancers with the same problem. Some reported they had been paid, but only after months or sometimes years of waiting. Others said they were still owed money, and provided contracts, invoices, and email threads to substantiate their claims.

In early November of 2016, CMG’s legal counsel sent a demand letter to Venture Publishing’s President and CEO Ruth Kelly, detailing the claims and asking that 13 contractors be paid a total of nearly $40,000 they were owed.

“We know times have been tough for the publishing industry,” Genova said, “but that’s no excuse to use people for their talents without a reasonable expectation of paying them. What we are asking is very simple: Venture Publishing, pay your people.”

CMG Freelance Branch first learned of Venture Publishing’s modus operandi in 2013, and warned writers about Venture Publishing’s tactics back then in a post on its Story Board blog: http://www.thestoryboard.ca/freelancers-report-delayed-payments-alberta-magazine-publisher/. Since then, these same tactics have continued.

For more information, or to talk to some of the freelancers who are still waiting for payment, contact Don Genova at don@dongenova.com or 778-991-4439.

CMG Freelance represents freelance contractors at the CBC and self-employed media workers across the country. It’s part of the Canadian Media Guild, a local of CWA-Canada, the country’s only all-media union.

Posted on February 22, 2017 at 8:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , , ,

3 Responses

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  1. Written by Jeremy Fokkens
    on February 23, 2017 at 8:57 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Hello everyone,

    I was just in Edmonton on Tuesday and sat in the waiting room refusing to leave their office until a cheque was in my hand and not post-dated; I got paid. Also I recently contacted the CBC, they already got back to me and have already done an interview as they are looking into this matter more and possibly doing a story. That being said and after speaking wth more people (Calgary & Edmonton) I can confirm that AV’s un-paid invoices to free-lancers are in excess of $50,000 and that’s just within my network.

    I suggest if you want to share your story, email Andrea Huncar : andrea.huncar@cbc.ca

    If anyone needs advice or support let me know, also this was the email I sent to CBC news tip team last week:

    ~

    My name is Jeremy Fokkens and I am a commercial & portrait photographer based in Calgary. I would like to report a news tip/story regarding Alberta Venture Publishing (AVP) out of Edmonton.

    I would like to report AVP is not paying their freelancers (Writers, photographers, etc) who contribute to their monthly magazines and regularly postpone payment for at least a years time, if not longer. Some freelancers are even travelling from other cities to their head office in Edmonton, demanding payment and refusing to leave their office until a cheque is written. I have just received a tip where AVP will be closing shop in the coming weeks. I know some freelancers right now are owed in excess of $8000 and if they close shop, they will not have to pay their outstanding bills and this could have drastic affects to freelancers who are still waiting payment.

    This is not the first time this has happened as you can see below:
    http://www.thestoryboard.ca/freelancers-report-delayed-pay…/
    http://cmgfreelance.ca/…/canadaland-takes-on-albertas-noto…/

    I wanted to reach out to the CBC because you understand the importance of freelance writers, photographers, journalists as you know first hand how great of a roll they play in the media. I hope that you can help, not just for my case but for the others where a substantial amount of money is rightfully owed and will affect their livelihoods long term.

    I do have more info and would gladly put you in contact with other freelancers who are still awaiting payment as well as others who can share their extremely unfortunate experiences first hand. I will be travelling to Edmonton on Tuesday demanding payment as others have done in the past. It seems this is the only type of action they respond to and it should never come to this. They are a magazine that promotes ethical business in Alberta, yet they seem to assume the legalities of paying freelancers (after the work is delivered) does not apply to them.

    Thank-you for your time and we could really use your help.

    Jeremy Fokkens

  2. Written by concerned writer
    on February 23, 2017 at 10:49 am
    Reply · Permalink

    “In early November of 2016, CMG’s legal counsel sent a demand letter to Venture Publishing’s President and CEO Ruth Kelly, detailing the claims and asking that 13 contractors be paid a total of nearly $40,000 they were owed.”

    What was Venture’s response to the letter (if any)?

  3. Written by editor
    on February 23, 2017 at 7:26 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    No response.

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