This was received from Dan Oldfield, a long-time Canadian activist and retired staffer for Canadian Media Guild (CMG).
For what it’s worth I sent the following comment to the so-called Payday Report. I doubt it will actually be posted but here you go.
“As a long time union member and someone who served both as an elected officer and staff representative I am disturbed by the incredible lack of balance in this piece. It suffers from a basic lack of understanding of unions and how decisions are made within these democratic organizations. When I first read it I thought it has been sent out as part of a packet of election propaganda.
The story suffers not only for the errors contained in it but for what is not included. The Guild was created at and amended by Convention. It is a gathering of members who are elected to represent their locals. The decisions they take are important and one hopes aren’t merely disregarded by an executive when it is in their personal interest or to serve a political interest. Good governance is indeed something people should get excited about. That governance is not an exercise in unilateral decision making but a process bound by rules to ensure fairness and consistency.
The author suggests, notwithstanding the Constitution, “the executive committee of the union has the power to waive the rules and allow the newly organized members to vote in the NewsGuild.” That is a shocking view. If an elected body can simply waive the rules on the eve of an election democracy ceases to exist. Can you imagine the potential for abuse?
The piece also seems to imply that the problem created by the Constitution are those created by the incumbent. The author knows or should know no one individual writes or enforces the rules as dictated by the membership.
The other issue raised as some sort of gross injustice is the right to vote. For some reason the author takes issue with the notion in a union of a member being a dues paying member. Individuals who sign membership applications aren’t members in good standing until they begin to pay dues. They are not required to pay dues until they have a collective agreement.
This is not unique to the Guild, virtually every other union in North America operates in this same fashion. With respect this is not some sort of plot designed to deny a vote but rather rules established and enforced over decades to preserve the value of membership. In U.S. where free riders continue to exist the importance of membership is not a small issue.”
Additional comment from Bernie Lunzer: “We need a dialogue going forward on this issue. We’ve not been in this situation before. I’m certain that the Guild could devise a solution that would be approved by the membership. That would involve earlier payment of dues than expected of new units now, but it could be an individual’s decision.”