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CMG Elections 2019 – Candidate profile: Kamala Rao

Our union, for real.

I have served as CMG’s National President since 2017 and I’m asking for your support to be re-elected and to continue important changes that have set our union on the right course.

CMG is better run and more methodical and disciplined than we were three years ago. A long-time CMG member, I have been asking tough questions about our union and developing solutions. We are prioritizing, making more responsible choices, and our union dollars go further now.

Prior to 2017, I was awarded the CBC/Radio-Canada Branch’s Order of Solidarity prize in recognition of my work heading our union’s Champion Public Broadcasting / Défendons la radiodiffusion publique campaign in connection with the 2015 federal election.

I’ve also served on CMG’s National Executive Committee since 2014, cultivating a pan-Guild vision, learning from and working with other Guild leaders.

Our union local, the Canadian Media Guild, is comprised of 5000 bargaining-unit members, employees at AFP, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), BuzzFeed, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation / Société Radio-Canada, The Canadian Press / La Presse canadienne and Pagemasters North America, Thomson Reuters, TVO, TFO, VICE, Zoomer, and private radio. (We are Local 30213, Communications Workers of America.)

CMG has an annual operating budget of about $ 5.5 million dollars, and we employ fifteen union staffers in support of our membership. In our union local, the national president is meant to function as both a political leader and as a manager.

I have been concentrating my attention on our union’s development, focusing our resources on CMG bargaining unit members:

– We are now better able to represent members, to fulfill and apply our collective agreements, and to support and organize workers who want enforceable union contracts.

– After years of fluctuating staff levels, our union is now fully staffed with full-time union staff representatives in every region for every employer group.

– We are moving past a legacy of operational deficiency. There is still a lot to improve and this is not a time to turn back.

– I’ve been planning, collaborating, and ensuring follow-through on our union’s intentions and commitments.

CMG since 2017 –

Improving Working Conditions

We have favourably negotiated and ratified ten collective agreements that improve working conditions in CMG bargaining units at AFP, APTN, The Canadian Press, CBC/Radio-Canada, CKOF, Pagemasters (in both Toronto and Calgary), Thomson Reuters, VICE, and Zoomer. We are bargaining three more collective agreements this fall and winter at TFO, TVO, and Buzzfeed, and engaging in another round at both The Canadian Press and VICE.

Attention on Pensions

We have pushed back against Bill C27, which threatened CBC pensions. The pension plan at TVO is now secured through a stable, well-funded, defined-benefit plan administered by the Ontario Pension Board. Likewise, the Canadian Press pension plan is in the process of merging with the CAAT pension plan.

Fixing and Upgrading Union Systems

We have fixed and upgraded CMG’s member information database. We can now reach almost all bargaining-unit members proactively by mail and participate properly in international union elections. Also, because of more accurate reporting on our part, CMG now retains more of our dues money and we use that revenue directly in support of CMG members.

Also, our communication protocols have been modified to better serve a commitment to bilingualism within our union. Now, for example, union correspondence addressed to members of the Guild working in French-language services begins with French. We are encouraging our wider union to follow suit.

Focusing Advocacy

CMG makes a greater impact now, supporting organizations that specialize in areas of broad and shared concern. For instance, we help support the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Friends of Canadian Broadcasting (FCB), and la Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec (FPJQ), as they specialize and work on areas of mutual concern.

Meanwhile, we internally prioritize matters which are our sole responsibility. No other organization is tasked in the same way as CMG with maintaining a focus on the terms and conditions of our day-to-day working lives as union members. Our principal aim as a union local should always be to improve working conditions and working life for CMG bargaining unit members.

Reducing Duplication between CMG and CWA Canada

We are clarifying CMG’s relationship with CWA Canada, the Canadian component of our international union, divvying-up responsibilities and respecting boundaries. This is more productive than the previous regime and reduces ineffective duplication between our two organizations.

Moving forward – 2020 through 2022

Build Our Power and Allocate Our Resources Wisely

To that end, I will drive the following priorities:

– Ensure that every new bargaining unit member is properly greeted into our union.

– Ensure that every CMG member gets a union handbook and a copy of our collective agreement with the employer.

– Structure our union in our workplaces. All members would benefit from a visible and effective CMG stewards’ network. Our union needs to be a clear presence in every CMG worksite.

– Encourage and support a high level of member participation in order to build power in our workplaces. We improve working conditions together.

Expand union education and training. Everyone who wants to be involved should know how to contribute. People also need to know where to turn when there’s a problem.

– Turn CMG’s ambitious Statement of Principles on Human Rights, at the top of our bylaws, into greater action. Doing so would transform our workplaces and our union. We want better working conditions and a better union for everyone, across our full diversity.

– Continue to improve union operations and CMG communications. An upgrade of CMG’s website is next, as are plans for quarterly online pan-Guild town-hall-style meetings.

Bring more workers into our bargaining units and support union-organizing at more workplaces. Increasing overall union density raises the floor for all workers.

Once more, I would welcome your support for another term as CMG National President.

If you are supportive of the direction I’ve outlined, please consider lending a hand during the campaign. I need your help to get the word out and to be re-elected.

If you’d like to help, please email me at kamala.rao@gmail.com

You can also show your support and follow campaign developments here: https://www.facebook.com/our.union.notre.syndicat/

Lasly – I am proudly running alongside Andrea Sellinger (for National Vice-President) and Jonathan Spence (for President, CBC/Radio-Canada Branch). Together, we share a common vision for CMG.

With best wishes, in solidarity,

Kamala Rao
National President, Canadian Media Guild

Personal background:

My first TV job was as a videographer on a weekly youth-oriented CBC show. The program, Road Movies, featured eight young videographers journeying separately throughout Canada. In that role, I researched, shot, scripted, and presented short video features, reporting solo from British Columbia, Alberta, NWT, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

I’ve worked at CBC Radio with the Syndicated Audio service at CBC News. Our unit works with local morning, afternoon and weekend CBC Radio programs across Canada. Prior to that, I worked as a chase producer at CBC News Network.

I’ve done a stint at CBC’s Arts Unit and been involved in network special programming. I’ve also been based at CBC’s The National, worked on Straight From the Hip with Judy Rebick, and the CBC Newsworld debate program, Face Off.

During my career, I have produced news items, longer-form pieces, one-on-one feature interviews, regularly scheduled panels, and current affairs and news interviews for both radio and TV.

~ Please vote, December 5-9, 2019. ~

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