TVO Workers Vote 100% in favour of Strike Mandate
Strike Decision Comes Amid Conflicting Claims About Future Of Its Journalism
For the first time since 2015, the Canadian Media Guild/TVO employees have given a strike mandate to their bargaining committee, putting the union one step closer to a legal strike position. The turnout for the vote was 96% with 100% supporting a strike mandate.
The problem between TVO workers and Minister Stephen Lecce is related to a labor dispute that arose in August 2021. TVO is a public educational media organization in Ontario, Canada, that provides educational programming and online resources to students and educators. The dispute centers around the collective bargaining agreement between TVO and its employees, who are represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
The workers have been without a collective bargaining agreement since March 31, 2019, and negotiations have been ongoing since that time. However, in August 2021, the workers went on strike after talks broke down. They were protesting against proposed cuts to their sick leave benefits and job security, as well as the use of temporary workers instead of hiring full-time staff.
The salaries of the members were subject to Bill 124, which was ruled unconstitutional in November and is now being appealed by the province. TVO/CMG members have received below-inflation wage increases for the past 10 years, including three years of complete wage freezes. These real, adjusted-for-inflation wage cuts come at a time when the cost of living has skyrocketed. As has been the case for many Ontarians, the rising cost of living pushed several TVO employees out of living in Toronto, where the broadcaster is based.
Minister Stephen Lecce is the Ontario Minister of Education, and as such, he is responsible for overseeing TVO. The workers and their union have accused Lecce of not taking their concerns seriously and of failing to intervene in the dispute to help resolve it. They have also criticized him for not meeting with them to discuss their concerns and for not appointing a mediator to help with negotiations.
As part of their negotiations, TVO/CMG workers are seeking the following improvements:
- Wages that take into account industry standards and inflation, especially for those in lower classifications
- Permanent jobs for permanent work, and a move away from reliance on precarious workers
- A commitment to quality journalism at TVO now and in the future
The dispute is ongoing, and there have been calls for the government to take action to resolve the issue and end the strike. The next bargaining meeting is scheduled for March 9th.
Some of the broadcaster’s employees are under Unifor and are not impacted by ongoing negotiations.