Category Archives: CWA Canada

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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Kingston campaign aims to restore Whig-Standard’s greatness


CWA Canada hopes Quebecor responds to pressure

It’s a project the size and likes of which CWA Canada has never before undertaken. The mission? To enjoin an entire community in a campaign to pressure a corporate media giant to restore the quality of its daily newspaper.

An advertising blitz that heralds the launch today of the ambitious multi-media campaign is sure to make the Kingston Whig-Standard the talk of the town, which some time ago dubbed its once highly regarded publication the “Sub” Standard. The message to “Make It Great!” will emanate from billboards, transit ads, radio spots, flyers, the website and a Facebook fan page.

Quebecor chief Pierre Karl Péladeau is about to get an earful from disgruntled readers and advertisers who have lamented the newspaper’s rapid decline under his stewardship. They will be sending email messages and signing a petition that calls on Quebecor to “devote the appropriate resources to the Whig-Standard so that Kingston can once again have a newspaper worthy of our great city.”

Martin O’Hanlon, deputy director of CWA Canada, initiated the project last fall and has overseen its development over the past six months. The executive of the Kingston Typographical Union (KTU), which represents Whig employees, heartily endorsed the plan and connected its architects with community leaders and activists who were quick to embrace the campaign.

“This is about fighting the good fight for quality local news and jobs. It’s not about union versus management; it’s about doing what’s best for everyone,” says O’Hanlon.

“We want to convince Quebecor that investing properly in its newspapers and keeping jobs in the community is good for readers, employees, democracy — and profits.”

Paul Schliesmann, a veteran reporter at the newspaper and vice-president of the KTU, says this is a last-ditch effort: “This project gives me the only hope I have left for the Whig-Standard.”

As the campaign material notes, the Whig-Standard used to be one of Canada’s best small-city newspapers. It won national awards for investigative reporting, offered in-depth coverage of Kingston issues and provided a balanced forum for discussion of matters of local and national importance.

In recent years, and particularly under Quebecor ownership, the qualities that once made the Whig-Standard a source of pride for Kingston have dramatically declined. Readers and advertisers keenly feel the loss.

Petitioners, whose message will go to both Péladeau and Ron Laurin, the newspaper’s publisher, will “request that Quebecor devote the appropriate resources to the Whig-Standard so that Kingston can once again have a newspaper worthy of our great city.”

Alec Ross, a long-time activist in Kingston who cares passionately about the Whig’s status, is co-ordinating the campaign for CWA Canada. A local company was contracted to design and construct the website, which features video testimonials from people in the community who describe the impact of Quebecor’s corporate decisions.

Among those weighing in are Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, Richard Kizell, chair of the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, professors, business people, politicians, writers and former Whig reporters.

“Generally,” says Ross, “I chose the video subjects because they are thoughtful, engaged and articulate Whig readers. We have a lot of support from prominent Kingstonians who totally sympathize with the cause, but who — for various reasons — declined to do a video.”

Lawrence Scanlan, who used to work at the Whig, recounts the halcyon days and expresses his sadness for what has been lost. He’s one of many dedicated journalists who recognize that a once proud profession has been undermined by a corporate ownership more interested in proselytizing a political ideology than upholding the public’s interest, a newspaper’s traditional role.

Indeed, Quebecor’s Sun Media has spread its right-wing tentacles into its newspapers and broadcast outlets to espouse its agenda and silence voices of opposition. The chain’s newspapers are filled with articles that spread the gospel and barely reflect the communities they purport to cover.

Centralizing of functions such as subscription services and advertising has eliminated scores of jobs at Sun Media publications and disconnected the publications from the communities they are supposed to serve.

For interviews or more information, contact Martin O’Hanlon (email / 613-867-5090) or Alec Ross (email / 613-572-3182).

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