Worker Rights in the Gig Economy

by Laura Kenins

Photo by Don Genova

Precarious employment is never far from the minds of those in journalism.

Even for those lucky enough to still hold full-time jobs, staff at most news outlets wonder when the next round of layoffs is coming. Rarely does a day pass when one’s Twitter feed doesn’t have at least one former staff journalist announcing their return to full-time freelancing and asking for leads on work.

Over the years, freelancers have had more and more company in precarious employment of all varieties. But even as the Ontario government erodes labour protections and as the federal election approaches, there’s reason for hope.

With employment activists working in communities to build better jobs and workers in several app-based jobs voting to unionize, precarious workers in Ontario are developing a better awareness of their situation and working together to change it.

Representatives from several groups gathered in west end Toronto on June 26 to discuss their strategies and hopes at an event called Worker Rights in the Gig Economy. Panelists at the event included former and prospective NDP MP Andrew Cash of the Urban Worker Project, United Way policy worker and researcher Stephanie Procyk, organizer Nadira Begum of the Workers’ Action Centre, the CMG’s Lise Lareau, Foodora couriers and union organizers Ahmad Jarbou and Ivan Ostos, and Jan Simpson, president of CUPW (with whom the Foodora workers have opted to unionize).

Hours after 300 Uber drivers in Toronto announced their unionization with United Food and Commercial Workers, the UFCW’s Pablo Godoy was also able to make a last-minute appearance to speak to issues facing the drivers.
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Posted on July 3, 2019 at 10:10 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,

Off the Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer June 24-July 2

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, communications, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada:

From The U.S. and beyond:

Recently on Story Board:

  • Freelance Skill Share Extraordinaire — Pitfalls and Pitching for Freelancers: How can we write the best pitches? How do we negotiate contracts? And for some: How do I get started? Navigating freelance challenges to survive and thrive in the gig economy was the focus of a highly interactive workshop held recently in Winnipeg, Manitoba…
  • The Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards: In early May I was asked, in my role as president of the Canadian Media Guild Freelance Branch, to participate a panel sponsored by the federal government aimed at reviewing and updating working conditions within any federally-regulated workforce…

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on July 2, 2019 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Freelance Skill Share Extraordinaire – Pitfalls and Pitching for Freelancers

by Lesley Evans Ogden

Assemble any group of freelancers at a networking event, or Google “freelance challenges,” and a common set of discussion topics tends to emerge.

How can we write the best pitches? How do we negotiate contracts? And for some: How do I get started?

Navigating freelance challenges to survive and thrive in the gig economy was the focus of a highly interactive workshop held recently in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Treaty 1 lands, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and homeland of the Métis Nation.

Though part of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada 2019 conference, the tips that emerged are relevant to freelancers more broadly.

Freelancers of all experience levels worked in small groups, prompted with a series of discussion questions, and shared experiences, challenges, and solutions. Small groups then shared key tips with the wider group.

Topics summarized here are common pitfalls of freelancing, and pitching. The session was conceived and facilitated by Canadian freelancers Lesley Evans Ogden and Niki Wilson. Big thanks to all attendees of Freelance Skill Share Extraordinaire on May 25, 2019. Our crowd-sourced words of wisdom are captured below.

Pitfalls of freelancing

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Posted on June 27, 2019 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

The Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards

by Don Genova

In early May I was asked, in my role as president of the Canadian Media Guild Freelance Branch, to participate in an exercise called ‘The Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards’, a panel sponsored by the federal government aimed at reviewing and updating working conditions within any federally-regulated workforce. The panel will collate all the information they gather and come up with a series of recommendations for the Liberal government by June 30th.

My session with the panel took place in Vancouver with most of the panel members in a downtown hotel and one of them on the phone from the Maritimes. Besides me, there were only two other participants — a representative from a union representing food service industry workers, and a labour lawyer with broad worldwide experience in different governmental jurisdictions.

As the session began, I soon realized that, as usual, media freelancers are odd ducks when it comes to the way we work. First of all, only six percent (about 900,000) of all employees in Canada work in federally regulated workplaces. For media freelancers, this means radio and television stations, as well as telephone and internet providers. All those other companies that commonly use media freelancers such as magazines, newspapers, and other content producers aren’t federally regulated. So any changes in labour standards that may benefit freelancers would affect a small fraction of the people who use the services of freelancers.

I gave a short presentation to the panel members about the kind of work that members of our union provide and the types of services CMG Freelance provides to help them in their careers. The panel members also wanted to hear our answers to a series of issues and questions they were posing as they traveled across the country.

This gave me another opportunity to point out how different the way most freelancers work is compared to more traditional employees.

Here’s a sampling of the issues and questions:

  1.  Minimum Wage:

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Posted on June 26, 2019 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Off the Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer June 18-24

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, communications, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada:

From The U.S. and beyond:

Recently on Story Board:

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on June 24, 2019 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Five Things Freelancers Should Know About Conferences… and why you should attend a few

By George Butters 

Ever heard of a fishing hole?

That’s a place where fish congregate, and where savvy fishers go with line and hook.

Conferences are where ideas are said to congregate, along with the people who espouse them. So for freelancers, conferences are a double whammy: attend the right conference and you’ll get the ideas and the contacts for interviews at the same time. Fortunately, unlike a good fishing hole, they tend not to be kept secret by the locals.

If you’re an experienced freelancer with one or two specialties, you’re probably already aware of conferences within your areas of expertise. If you are aware, but aren’t taking advantage, you should consider attending at least the most influential conference or two each year.

Keep in mind that sector-based conferences come in five flavours: local, provincial, regional, national, and international. So you’ll have to decide how far you’re willing to travel. More and more, you can find conference material online, but it’s not the same as being there. (And this comes from a guy who makes a chunk of his living live streaming conferences.)

Step one: Making a plan

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Posted on June 20, 2019 at 11:12 pm by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: , , , ,

Toronto: Worker Rights in the Gig Economy forum

Workers of all kinds are invited to a forum calledWorker Rights in the Gig Economyon Wednesday, June 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at New Horizons (1140 Bloor Street at Dufferin).

Andrew Cash of the Urban Worker Project is hosting the event, which will include a panel discussion with:

• Jan Simpson of CUPW

• The Justice for Foodora Couriers campaign

Stephanie Procyk of the United Way

• Lise Lareau of the Canadian Media Guild’s Fairness in Factual campaign

• Nadira Begum of the Workers’ Action Centre

To RSVP to the event and see full speaker bios and more information about the forum and its organizers, check out the event’s Facebook page.

 

Posted on June 18, 2019 at 10:00 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off the Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer June 11-17

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, communications, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

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From Canada:

From The U.S. and beyond:

Recently on Story Board:

  • Vancouver freelance mixer June 18: Freelancers in the Vancouver area are invited to a “say hello to summer” get together on Tuesday, June 18 at Red Racer Taphouse (871 Beatty St.) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m…

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.

Posted on June 16, 2019 at 10:00 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Vancouver freelance mixer June 18

Freelancers in the Vancouver area are invited to a “say hello to summer” get together on Tuesday, June 18 at Red Racer Taphouse (871 Beatty St.) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

CMG Freelance president Don Genova will be in town so if you have any questions about pitching, freelance contracts or other aspects of freelance life, come down for a drink and a chat.

It’s also a chance to catch up with your freelance friends and make some new ones.

Drop Don a line at freelance@cmg.ca and let us know if you can join us for drinks, snacks and conversation. Hope to see you there!

Posted on June 11, 2019 at 6:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Webinar: Covering Provincial Politics

Photo by Al_HikesAZ via Flickr.

UPDATE: This webinar has been postponed until fall. Stay tuned for more details in a few weeks’ time.

Provincial policy touches every part of Canadian life. Schools, hospitals and police forces rely on provincial governments for funding; employers and landlords have to follow a provincial government’s laws.

Join us for a webinar that will introduce journalism students and less experienced reporters to the basics of covering provincial politics. You’ll learn who the key players are, which areas of policy are widely covered and which get less attention, how to find information and what it’s like to be part of the press gallery covering Premier Doug Ford.

Covering Provincial Politics” is scheduled for June 18th at 6 p.m. EST (3 p.m. PST). It will be led by Emma Paling, who took on the Queen’s Park beat for HuffPost Canada in 2018 after three years as one of the site’s news editors. Emma graduated with a Combined Honours degree in journalism and history from Carleton University in 2014. 

To register for this webinar click on this link. If you’re a CMG Freelance member, enter the code “CMG-FL” when you are asked for an affiliation code. If you are not a member, you can enter the code “SBoard” to register to participate in this webinar for free.

Live viewings of our webinars are open to everyone. We’ll be making a recorded version available to members of CMG Freelance after the event. For information about the price and benefits of CMG Freelance membership please check out the CMG Freelance website.

 

Posted on June 10, 2019 at 1:00 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,