Solidarity with CUPE Education workers
The Canadian Freelance Union stands in solidarity with the 55,000 education workers in Ontario, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who are ready to take strike action this coming Friday.
These workers have been bargaining for a fair collective agreement with the Ontario government since August 2022. They make on average $39,000 a year and are generally the lowest-paid workers in schools.
Rather than negotiate in good faith, the Ford government intends to invoke the notwithstanding clause and has introduced legislation to impose an unfair contract on Education workers and ban them from striking upon threat of steep fines.
“Let’s be clear: imposing a contract and eliminating workers’ right to free and fair collective bargaining is a fascist tactic the likes of which we have not seen in Canada since before 1946,” said president Nora Loreto. “Freelancers know what it’s like to be disrespected and paid criminally low wages. As such, we offer our full support and solidarity to Ontario’s education workers unionized with CUPE.”
The legislation introduced in Ontario (Bill 28, Keeping Students in Class Act, 2022) and invoking the notwithstanding clause is anti-democratic but also a profound violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The draconian legislation has serious implications for all workers across Canada and can not go unchallenged.
The CFU stands in solidarity with CUPE and education workers in Ontario and urges Premier Doug Ford to return to the bargaining table to achieve a fair agreement that supports all educators and students.
Help for those facing harassment
Help for those facing on-line harassment is available
Unifor's Media Council has launched an on-line tool to help any journalist experiencing harassment. The tool can be found here.
If you're ever experiencing digital harassment, please don't hesitate to be in touch with us @ [email protected]
CFU Executive Endorses Lana Payne
The CFU proudly endorses Lana Payne for Unifor National President.
The CFU executive did not make this decision lightly. The first contested election in the history of our union demanded that we consult our members and, at the July 11 Executive Meeting, we voted unanimously to support Sister Payne. The election will be held at the Unifor National Convention, from August 8-12 in Toronto. I will be present, alongside Ontario representative Shady Affify and CFU’s Coordinator, Raul Burbano.
Lana Payne is a life-long trade unionist, feminist, and fighter for working people. As a former journalist who worked in the industry for over 20 years, she understands the struggles of freelancers. Not only that, Sister Payne is the only candidate running for president who has provided direct support to the Canadian Freelance Union.
We are confident that Sister Payne will be the leader that our union needs: one that is bold, experienced, and fearless.
Nora Loreto, CFU President
The deportation of Julian Assange is an attack on Freedom of the press
British Home Secretary Priti Patel has approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face criminal charges of violating the Espionage Act.
WikiLeaks released a vast trove of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables in collaboration with U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning that exposed US war crimes. The diplomatic cables were of critical journalistic importance and Assange is being punished for daring to blow the whistle on American war crimes.
Subjecting Assange to trial in the US is a threat to public interest journalism and will create a chilling effect on reporting in the public interest. Assange is the first journalist to have been charged under the First World War-era Act.
The Canadian Freelance Union condemns the extradition of Julian Assange to the US and calls for the dismissal of all charges against him.
The CFU calls Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly to condemn the decision to extradite Assange. We also call on the Australian government to take swift action and stop the extradition of Assange.
Request for interest: Website design and development May 2022
The Canadian Freelance Union (CFU) is seeking proposals to redesign and add enhanced features to the organization’s bilingual website and certain related online activities including monthly membership dues processing.
Proposals are due by end of the day on Monday, July 15, 2022. They may be submitted via email [email protected] Selection will occur in the following weeks. Only the person or team behind the successful proposal will be contacted.
To download the RFI click here.
CFU condemns the killing of Sherine Abu Akleh, Al-Jazeera journalist
The Canadian Freelance Union (CFU) strongly condemns the killing of Palestinian journalist Sherine Abu Akleh, who was shot by Israeli forces while on assignment in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. She was killed while wearing a press vest and was standing with other journalists when she was killed.
The killing of a civilian journalist is an affront to media freedom everywhere and a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and international conventions and norms, which stipulate that journalists and media workers must be protected.
The CFU believes enhancing the safety of journalists, especially those working in conflict zones, has to be a global priority, as the protection of journalists is the only guarantee to support their work and carry out to reveal the truth to the world.
The tragic loss is a strong reminder of the daily dangers facing journalists and media men around the world and the need to enhance their safety.
The CFU is calling for a prompt, transparent, and comprehensive investigation into the killing of Al-Jazeera satellite channel’s veteran reporter and for those responsible to be held accountable.
We express our deepest condolences to her family and friends.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945.
This year the theme guiding the United Nations Holocaust remembrance and education is “Memory, Dignity, and Justice.” The writing of history and the act of remembering brings dignity and justice to those whom the perpetrators of the Holocaust intended to obliterate. Safeguarding the historical record, remembering the victims, and challenging the distortion of history, often expressed in contemporary antisemitism, are critical aspects of claiming justice after atrocity crimes. The theme encompasses these concerns.
The Canadian Freelance Union honors the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms its commitment to counter antisemitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance.
Solidarity statement with Dominion Strikers
On October 27, 2020, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, acting upon unknown orders, brought in over 20 officers including those in riot gear to illegally break up a peaceful picket line of Unifor 597 who are striking against Dominion’s parent company Loblaws Companies Limited.
The RNC threatened these essential workers who have supported our province through the worst of the pandemic with arrest, for exercising their legally protected right to picket. Injunction orders against the strikers have failed, so why are police acting as strikebreakers? Whose orders are they acting upon?
The Weston family has increased their wealth by $1,600,000,000 over the course of the pandemic, in which they paid their employees an extra $2/hour -- dubbed ‘hero pay’ -- which they stopped paying in July, along with other grocery retailers. While those workers put the health and safety of themselves, their family, and their loved ones on the line, the Weston family still increased profits, and are unwilling to share that wealth with the people who provide them that income.
In 2019, Dominion stores have cut full time positions in order to further exploit their workers, leaving them without benefits or security. The only thing the company is offering the workers -- now primarily part-time employees -- is an additional $1/hour over the entire life of their three-year contract, according to Unifor National President, Jerry Dias.
The Canadian Freelance Union stands in solidarity with essential workers from Unifor Local 597 and condemns the harassment and intimidation by police. We demand accountability from the people who directed the police to respond in this manner, and are encouraged to hear that Loblaw has finally agreed to get back to the bargaining table.
The Canadian Freelance Union is a community chapter of Unifor, focusing on advancing the rights and working conditions for freelancers in the communications and media industries.
CFU statement on Anti Black Racism
The Canadian Freelance Union condemns the systemic racism and Anti-Black, Anti-Indigenous violence that is prevalent across the globe. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the subsequent response to the protests that have seen people--including journalists--maimed, injured, and harassed for exercising their right to assemble once more demands that we act, we educate, and we recommit to anti-racism solidarity.
The actions by the police, the state and various other bodies of authority have, by design, perpetuated a system of violence that has targeted Black, Indigenous and racialized people.
This systemic Anti-Black, Anti-Indigenous violence has deep roots in Canada. During the pandemic, at least nine Indigenous people have been killed during interactions with police.
Canada was built on genocide and the violence which is endemic has severe consequences for impacted communities, and all of us living on this land.
After years of peaceful protests, one of the largest civil rights movements has once again been launched by Black and Afro-Indigenous organizers and their allies. This movement has been created in response to a continuous lack of justice that has been left unaddressed for decades.
As most of our racialized members know, in both Canada and the United States, our police forces were created with the aim to control, through force, the Indigenous and non-white population. The RCMP was inspired by the quasi-military force--the Royal Irish Constabulary--that Britain was using to oppress the Irish.
Originally named the North-West Mounted Police, they were to ‘keep order’ in the North-West Territories. But Canada wasn’t going to just rely on policing to keep Indigenous people compliant. Canada also went after their source of food and furs--the buffalo--in order to starve the Plains and Métis peoples and make them reliant upon Canada, and less able to fight back, physically or spiritually. This made way for the continued and on-going efforts to strip non-white people on these lands of their culture, their belief systems, and their supports.
The National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls found Canada guilty of both historic and ongoing genocide. Black Canadians are nearly twice as likely as non-racialized Canadians to be considered low income. An Indigenous CBC reporter has resigned in protest of not just the lack of diversity in CBC’s staff, but also because the Journalistic Standards and Practices perpetuates systemic racism and prevents racialized journalists from adding their unique perspectives to the stories they report upon.
Visible minorities in Canada are 11% more likely to face discrimination in hiring than in the United States, and while statistics in Canada are lacking, there’s evidence that Black people are more likely to be a freelancer than white people. This means that creative Black workers work in more precarious conditions than white workers, with lower wages and no benefits.
We can not let any more tragedies occur under our watch. We must fight for the just society we wish to live in, and we must fight against injustices in our society. This starts with each of us, calling out racism in our work and daily lives, educating others, and fighting for equity at every level of society. You can find Unifor’s Policy on Racial Justice here.
These are just some of the reasons why it is important that as a union we take a stand on anti-Black violence and work to stop anti-Black racism. The Canadian Freelance Union joins the call of impacted communities who are demanding the dismantling of institutionalized racism and oppression that endangers the lives of Black, Indigenous and racialized people in Canada and around the world. In a broad perspective, this means looking at new ways to keep communities safe, expanding our social safety nets, fighting for affordable, guaranteed child care, free post-secondary education, and ending cycles of intergenerational poverty and trauma.
There is a lot to do, and the Canadian Freelance Union commits to helping educate our members about what these calls to action mean, and why these changes are important to racialized people. If you see a call to action from #BLM, and you aren’t certain what it means or why they’re calling for it, please reply to this email and we will send resources.
The CFU Board represents freelancers from across Canada, yet we currently have no Black or Indigenous voices on our Board. We will engage in a process to identify ways in which racialized freelancers can become more involved in the work of their union and have their needs better represented. Not just through who represents them, but also in the priorities and campaign directions that we take on.
To that end:
- We encourage our members to get involved in local organizing efforts;
- The Canadian Freelance Union will donate to Canadian Association of Black Journalists in support of the organizing efforts beyond our statement;
- We are re-upping our call for pitches, especially for racialized members. The topic does not need to be race or racism.
Black Lives Matter here, and we must all fight to ensure that Black Lives Matter everywhere.
Photo courtesy of Jalani Morgan, Untitled, 2015
Organizing & running a union digitally
The COVID-19 virus is forcing organizations and their members to work virtually as much as possible. Due to the abruptness, some organizations are ill-prepared for this transition. In order to be productive, there are common requirements that both organizations and members need. The Canadian Freelance Union has been functioning remotely since our founding. Here’s some time tips to support organizations and members when working remotely.
Our executive team has virtual monthly meetings. Meetings are formal (quorum required) and mandatory to allow for operational business as usual. It's important that dates are set in advance, allowing people to block dates far in advance. We meet using the video conference software, Zoom (more below). If you do conference calls, consider using video chat so that you can see each other (and if you do utilize video chat for conference calls, remember to maintain the same etiquette as you would for an in-person meeting).
The CFU provides member support with grievance issues. This is all done virtually, and starts with the members filling out an online form. This information goes directly to the support team. Once the information is reviewed, we host a Zoom meeting with the impacted member. The goal of that meeting is to clarify any questions and set expectations on possible actions/outcomes. We compile a Google document which we share with the member to help us draft an appropriate response.
COMMUNICATING WITH MEMBERS:
The CFU communicates with its members on a regular basis using a variety of methods. We have an email list-serv that goes out regularly to inform members of the ongoing work of the union. We use social media tools such as twitter, Facebook etc to communicate more frequently with members. Finally, we also have chat tools like Slack that allow for instant communication to each other and members. With Slack, you have the ability to create lots of different channels, so your conversations can be organized by topics and/or teams.
HAVING THE RIGHT TOOLS:
It’s important that everyone in your organization uses the same tools as much as possible so there is seamless integration. There are a lot of tools out there ranging from free ones to ones with monthly packages and enhanced features.
VIDEO CONFERENCE TOOLS
Zoom is one of the more popular video conferencing tools. Under the free plan you have access to run video meetings up to 40 minutes with up to 100 participants. Zoom’s biggest advantage is that participants do not need an account. A link is sufficient. The paid plan is relatively cheap especially when you buy the annual plan.
Google announced that it would be rolling out free access to “advanced” features for Hangouts Meet to all globally through July 1st. Organizations can host meetings with up to 250 participants, live stream to up to 100,000 viewers within a single domain, and record and save meetings to Google Drive.
Microsoft is offering free access to Microsoft Teams with up to 250 video meeting participants and live streams of up to 10,000 viewers.
Slack is an instant communication app that integrates with Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox.
WhatsApp is a mobile app for group messaging connected to a phone number and has no storage limits.
Syncing and backing up files as often as possible is key. For example, individuals can duplicate information from a laptop to an external hard drive, the cloud, another computer or a flash drive.
Organizations can use cloud-managed backup services which don’t require on-premise infrastructure and can be checked from anywhere.
There are several cloud resources available and it's important that everyone use the same service.
Google Drive allows for up to 15GB of free space on their servers.
Dropbox, provides a central hub for teams to access all of the content they need from anywhere, on any device. The contents of these folders are synchronized to Dropbox's servers and to other computers and devices where the user has installed Dropbox, keeping the same files up-to-date on all devices.
If you don’t have internet at home and have to use public wifi, take some precautions and only login to sites that have HTTPS in the address bar.
Don’t use unsecured wifi networks, as they are prime spots for malicious parties to collect confidential information.
It’s as important to ensure that all accounts are protected with strong passwords and set up two-factor authentication. Two -factor authentication (2FA) and two-step verification (2SV) involve an additional step to add an extra layer of protection to your accounts.