Event for TorStar freelancers Thursday to discuss contracts
There’s an event Thursday afternoon in Toronto for freelancers who contribute to the Toronto Star and The Grid. It’s an opportunity to talk about the campaign to improve the freelance contracts that TorStar began imposing a year ago that give enormous rights to the publisher.
The Toronto Star contract covers all work the freelancer has ever done for the paper and allows TorStar to use the work in any medium, including books, television, etc., or syndicate it without additional compensation.
The Grid goes one step further: on top of all the stuff in the Toronto Star contract, the weekly also leaves writers vulnerable to counter-suits if it were sued for libel or defamation over one of their pieces.
In trying to impose the standard contracts, TorStar has changed the nature of its relationship with freelancers unilaterally. Freelancers can no longer negotiate on their own terms and are faced with a take-it-or leave it ultimatum. Some freelancers have even been told that their invoices would not be paid until after they signed the standard contract—including for work that had already been published.
In response, a coalition of freelancers formed to push back . The Canadian Media Guild, the Professional Writers Association of Canada and the Canadian Writers Group have all signed onto the campaign. At the end of May, the group met a second time with Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank, Managing Editor Joe Hall, and Cathrin Bradbury, executive director of Star Content Services.
After hearing from the freelancers, the management team seemed most concerned about another class action like the Robertson case. It was pointed out that they are taking the same kind of unilateral action again that got them in trouble in that case.
TorStar management has committed to continuing to talk, but followup emails from the freelancers have not been returned.
Join us on Thursday June 28 from 3:30 to 5:30 pm at the Bloor-Gladstone Library (1101 Bloor West, near Dufferin), connect with your fellow freelancers and help make plans for the next phase of the campaign.
If you’re a freelancer for the Star or The Grid and have questions about the talks or would like to get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Your information will be kept confidential.