CWA Canada Associate Members are joining the Halifax Typographical Union (CWA Canada Local 30130) in calling on freelancers and student journalists to stand in solidarity with newsroom staff at The Chronicle Herald who could be on picket lines Saturday morning.
Management at the daily newspaper, which gave notice of a lockout last week, has for several months been attempting to recruit recent journalism school graduates and freelancers to produce news coverage in the event of a work stoppage.
Negotiations between the company and the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU), which represents 61 editorial workers, came to a standstill after only two days. The Herald refused to budge on its proposals, which include wage cuts, an increase in working hours, a removal of a gender parity clause in the contract and a layoff of a third of the staff.
CWA Canada Associate Members, who include 600 students, precarious and emerging media workers across the country, support the union in fighting against these detrimental changes in the newsroom. Not only would these proposals negatively impact the current workers, they would eliminate good jobs at The Chronicle Herald for the next generation. Management’s proposals would lower wages and working standards across the media industry, also making it more difficult for freelancers and entry-level workers to earn a fair pay.
In preparation for the work stoppage, the Herald has also “indefinitely” removed the bylines and credits of its journalists and photographers, which will help management hide the identities of journalists who scab during a work stoppage.
As a result of management’s heavy-handed tactics and recent outreach to journalism school grads and freelancers to work as scabs, the HTU has asked that anyone contacted by the paper refuse assignments.
We are also asking freelancers and students to not cross the picket line and provide freelance work for The Chronicle Herald. As freelancers and precarious media workers, we know there is uncertainty about where and when the next assignment will come, but taking work while the HTU is on the picket line is just not worth it.
The media landscape is changing; publishers are asking more and more from staff, who have less and less time and resources. Staff are being laid off and replaced with largely underpaid freelancers. By providing content during this time, we perpetuate the idea that good full-time jobs can be replaced with piecemeal and short-term contract work.
We must show support and solidarity with our fellow journalists, photographers and editors who are fighting for their jobs and fair working standards. If we do not stand with the newsroom staff and show that they are not alone in their fight, how can we expect support from fellow workers as we demand fair wages for freelance work, internships and short-term contracts?
As media companies across the country cut staff, resources and entire departments in an attempt to reduce organizational spending, we as emerging and low-paid workers are left to fill the gaps with more content, yet with less time to devote to our craft. Although papers and programs are still being produced with less by hard-working staff, the amount of in-depth, quality projects are also being cut.
We ask freelancers and students to refuse scab work at The Chronicle Herald during a work stoppage. We must show solidarity with the Halifax Typographical Union in their fight for fair working conditions so that we can set an example for media outlets across the country.