Category Archives: CWA Canada

Conservatives launch new attack on unions with ‘grossly unfair’ public disclosure bill

CWA Canada is calling on members to help fight passage through Parliament of a private member’s bill that would introduce onerous reporting rules for unions that are not required of other dues-deducting organizations.

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) says Bill C-377 in its current form would be the “most costly and discriminatory bill faced by the labour movement” in this country.

Every labour organization and all unions, including locals, branches, councils, lodges, etc., would have to disclose detailed financial information, salaries, supplier contracts, loans, accounts receivables, investments, spending on organizing, collective bargaining, education, training, lobbying and all political activities. The information would be made public on a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website.

“This bill is grossly unfair and hypocritical,” says CWA Canada Director Martin O’Hanlon. “It’s just plain wrong to single out labour groups for special scrutiny, especially when even taxpayer-funded MPs don’t disclose full details of their spending.

“This is nothing but yet another ideological Conservative attack on unions that comes right out of the Republican party playbook in the United States. No fair-minded Canadian should stand for this, regardless of what party they support.”

The CLC points out the bill is backed by such anti-union groups as the Fraser Institute, the Merit Shop Contractors and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business because they would have access to detailed information about everything a union spends money on and allow them to assess a union’s strength. The information, provided at taxpayer and union expense, can be used to threaten collective bargaining rights and organizing drives.

CWA Canada is urging its members to contact their MPs as soon as possible to let the government know that it’s wrong to single out labour groups for such scrutiny. The bill is currently at an early stage of proceedings in the House, with debate scheduled for today, March 13. A vote would likely occur next week; if passed, it would be referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and potentially public hearings.

The bill’s sponsor, Conservative MP Russ Hiebert, conforms to his party’s now standard practise of introducing legislation to deal with non-existent problems. A slick website that has been created in support of the bill (almost certainly at taxpayer expense) contains misleading and incorrect information, which the MP apparently hopes will be believed if it’s repeated often enough.

Although he acknowledges that unions already disclose financial information to their members in accordance with their own bylaws and provincial regulations, he seeks public disclosure because of “tax benefits these institutions receive” which he has pegged at $400 million a year.

There is not a shred of truth to that claim: Unions do not receive any public subsidy. It is workers and their families, not unions, who receive an income tax deduction related to their dues. The tax treatment of these workers is exactly the same as that for dues-paying members of the law societies, medical associations or employers who belong to industry associations.

Opposition House leader Joe Comartin called the proposed legislation “a frontal attack on the labour movement” when the bill was given second reading in February. The NDP MP said it would, in fact, threaten rights to privacy, association and freedom of speech.

The strategy behind similar, but less onerous, legislation in the U.S. was that “every dollar spent on disclosure and reporting” was a dollar not spent on other union activities, said Comartin.

While the website dismisses as negligible the expense to unions to assemble and report such information, the CLC estimates it would take the average local union — most of which are run by volunteers — 200 to 400 hours annually at a significant cost to their treasuries. Some estimates say it would add 20 per cent to the current costs, and for some of the pension funds, it would require them to file returns “the size of a large city’s phone book.”

Hiebert also glosses over the cost to taxpayers, which will amount to millions of dollars to create a massive database, related materials and hundreds of CRA staff to administer it all.

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Let’s hope sale of Victoria Times Colonist means better days ahead for local jobs, journalism



October 19, 2011 / OTTAWA — CWA|SCA Canada, the union that represents workers at the Victoria Times Colonist, is cautiously optimistic about the sale of the paper to Glacier Media.

For years, Postmedia has been cutting jobs and sacrificing quality across the chain to service a huge debt load. Glacier appears to be in much better financial shape and has recognized the importance of a quality

“We are heartened by statements Glacier has made in the past about quality journalism,” said Martin O’Hanlon, Director of CWA|SCA Canada. “This is not about union versus management; it’s about doing what’s best for everyone. We believe that investing properly in the newspaper and keeping jobs in the community is good for readers, employees, democracy — and profits.”

O’Hanlon said he will be requesting a meeting with the company soon to discuss improving local news coverage and protecting jobs in Victoria from centralization or outsourcing overseas.

In its annual report in 2009, Glacier lamented the “vicious cycle” many newspapers in Canada have fallen into.

“The demise of many North American newspaper and media companies has in part been self-inflicted,” the company said in the report. “The Internet has been a factor, but the reduction of content and quality through continual cost cutting has played a significant role. It has weakened the product and the value of many North American metropolitan newspapers for readers, which has resulted in reduced effectiveness for advertisers, which has reduced revenues.”

CWA|SCA Canada takes the company at its word and hopes the sale means better days ahead.

In discussing the sale of the paper, Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey claimed that employees hadn’t bought into the company’s “digital first philosophy.” In fact, workers simply objected to the centralization of pagination in Hamilton and ad production in the Philippines. “

We bought into Digital First, we just didn’t buy into shipping our jobs to Manila, Dominican Republic, Hamilton, Calgary, etc.,” said Chris Carolan, president of the Victoria-Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild (CWA|SCA Canada Local 30223).

CWA|SCA Canada is a progressive, democratic union that represents more than 7,000 media workers across the country at the CBC, The Canadian Press, Reuters and metro dailies such as The Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette and Halifax Chronicle Herald.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Martin O’Hanlon
Director, CWA|SCA Canada

Chris Carolan
President, Victoria-Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild

Communications Workers of America | CANADA
1050 Baxter Road / Unit 7B • Ottawa ON K2C 3P1
613.820.9777 | 1.877.486.4292

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O’Hanlon, Kirkup sworn in as leaders of national union

Martin O’Hanlon was sworn in today as Director of CWA Canada although he will not officially begin in the full-time position until Aug. 30.

O’Hanlon, 44, is taking a leave from his regular job as parliamentary editor for The Canadian Press, where he continues until the end of this week. Arnold Amber, the outgoing Director, conducted the official swearing-in of O’Hanlon and Lois Kirkup, 50, who was acclaimed as Deputy Director in May.

The president of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild became Treasurer, also by acclamation, a month earlier at the spring meeting of the National Representative Council. Kirkup will serve in both volunteer positions on the executive until a new treasurer can be elected at the next NRC meeting in April 2012. O’Hanlon, a member of the Canadian Media Guild who last month was declared the winner in national elections, had been Deputy Director for seven years.“I am looking forward to working with everyone to make this the most progressive and dynamic union in Canada,” said O’Hanlon. “I’d also like to pay special tribute to Arnold Amber, who steps down after 16 years at the helm of the union. Arnold has been a strong and visionary leader who built CWA|SCA Canada into what it is today. We are grateful for all he’s done and will welcome his ongoing advice.”

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O’Hanlon wins national vote to head CWA Canada


Martin O’Hanlon will be the next Director of CWA Canada after emerging the clear winner in national elections.

O’Hanlon, a member of the Canadian Media Guild, captured 440 votes. His challenger, Ron Carroll, a copy editor at The Gazette and vice-president of the Montreal Newspaper Guild, garnered 167.

“I’d like to thank the members for putting their trust in me to lead the union,” said O’Hanlon, 44, who has been Deputy Director for seven years. “I promise to do my best to build CWA|SCA Canada into the most dynamic and progressive union in Canada. And I will always put the interests of the members above all else.

“A huge thank you to all who helped with my campaign. There are too many names to list here, but I’ll be in touch with everyone to thank them personally.”

Outgoing Director Arnold Amber congratulated O’Hanlon on his successful campaign. “It’s certainly good that we finally have a declared winner. Now we can move ahead.”

The voting period was twice extended due to the postal dispute. Results were originally expected to be announced on June 27, in time for the winner to be sworn in on July 12 at the 73rd convention of the Communications Workers of America held in Las Vegas.

Amber, who remains as Director until O’Hanlon can assume office, will conduct the swearing-in sometime in the next few weeks. O’Hanlon will be arranging for a leave of absence from his position as parliamentary editor for The Canadian Press in Ottawa.

Amber has been Director of the union since its inception as TNG Canada/CWA in 1995. He noted that O’Hanlon “was there from the beginning” as one of the delegates to the founding meeting.

This was the first time that members of CWA Canada directly voted for Director of the union. Prior to 2008, the Director and Deputy were elected by delegates to the National Representative Council meeting. (Lois Kirkup, president of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild, was acclaimed Deputy Director at this year’s meeting in April.)

Some Locals arranged for in-plant voting while others opted to have members vote by mail-in ballot.

The National Elections Committee, comprising Scott Edmonds, Gord Holder and Nigel Sones, who gathered in Ottawa on Saturday for the official tally, reported there were 65 ballots not counted because they did not conform to the rules. They included 30 unsigned return envelopes, four spoiled ballots and one that was challenged. A procedural error in one Local’s in-plant voting led to another 30 ballots not being counted.

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Martin O’Hanlon Elected Canadian Director


The National Elections Committee of CWA/SCA Canada announces the  results of the election for the position of Canadian Director.

Martin O’Hanlon: 440 votes
Ron Carroll: 167 votes

Uncounted ballots
Unsigned return envelopes: 30
Spoiled ballots: 4
Challenged ballot: 1
Procedural error by a Local Elections Committee: 30 ballots not counted

Martin O’Hanlon is declared elected as Canadian Director.

Scott Edmonds, Gord Holder, Nigel Sones
National Elections Committee members

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‘We need to be in the streets as well as at the ballot box’

Today’s tough economy and political attacks demand a “broader, deeper” movement, organizing not just new union members but building alliances that will make it clear where America’s true majority stands, CWA President Larry Cohen said Monday in his convention address. “We need to be in the streets as well as at the ballot box,” Cohen told the 1,600-plus delegates, retirees, family and friends at the 73rd CWA convention. “We need the energy and intensity of Madison, Wisconsin, or Cairo, Egypt. We need to unite with non-labour groups who share our vision of restoring the American Dream for working families.” As history proves, collective bargaining rights are essential to that dream, Cohen said. In both the United States and Canada, as bargaining coverage grew from the 1930s to the 1960s, “we negotiated real improvements in living standards — better health care, better pensions, higher wages and expanding organizing rights, and we expected that our children and grandchildren would have a better life,” he said. But as bargaining rights declined, everything changed. Despite still-growing worker productivity, workers’ wages have stagnated while “CEOs keep getting richer because they are writing the rules,” Cohen said. “Bargaining rights are critical to any functioning democracy,” he said. “And they are critical for a functioning economy.” Drawing rousing cheers from delegates, Cohen unveiled a short new video showing CWA in action with its partners in recent battles. “This is movement building. This is what democracy looks like,” Cohen said.

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Election 2011 CWA-SCA Canada Director / Notice on Extension of Voting Period

June 28, 2011

To: CWA/SCA Canada Locals and Guild Activists

From: National Elections Committee

Re: 2011 Election for National Director of CWA/SCA Canada

Fellow members,

Because of uncertainty about the resumption of postal service in Canada following the labour dispute at Canada Post, including when the mail already in the system will be moved, the National Elections Committee of CWA/SCA Canada has decided to extend the voting period for the election for the position of National Director.

Ballots must now be received in the designated post office box by the CLOSE OF BUSINESS at the national office of CWA/SCA Canada in Ottawa on FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2011.

Ballots received by that deadline will be COUNTED on SATURDAY, JULY 23, 2011, followed by the announcement of the election results as well as the seven-day period during which protests of the election results may be submitted.

If you have any questions about this election, contact the National Elections Committee through the national office of CWA/SCA Canada:

Unit 7B – 1050 Baxter Road, Ottawa, ON K2C 3P1

Telephone: 613-820-9777

Toll-free: 1-877-486-4292


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