Sun TV Union Continuing Talks With Management

After an unexpected delay there is finally an update in the ongoing Sun TV saga.  On the official Canadian Media Guild website, the union is reporting that after two days of negotiations – Monday, March 26 and Tuesday, March 27 – “the two sides”, meaning the union and Sun TV management, “engaged in a constructive dialogue”.  (To read the entire update, click here.)
As noted on this website previously, things had gotten so bleak the union went to the federal government for assistance.  Two mediators were appointed by Federal Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn to get the negotiations back on track.  (The union had only requested one.)  They had until March 27 to work out a deal.  According to this latest update, though, despite the fact that the deadline has now passed, talks are continuing.  (“The two sides have agreed to extend the conciliation process.”)
After many frustrating months of inactivity, this move by the union has finally achieved something significant.  It has convinced Sun TV management to put forth its own proposals at a negotiating session, an unfathomable idea previously if you’ve been following this story closely over the last several months.  The union notes in this latest update that the station’s bigwigs have offered “nine proposals”.  Unsurprisingly, because of the sensitive nature of these talks, it is unknown what those proposals actually are and whether or not the union will find them acceptable.
“Negotiations are scheduled to resume on Thursday, April 5 with further meetings every Thursday in April,” notes the union.  This is a very surprising development.  For over a year now, the union has been working to reach a collective bargaining agreement, their first, with management.  Obviously, getting those federally appointed mediators involved in this difficult process has brought Sun TV back to the table and convinced them to take the union seriously.  The union should be commended for its efforts.
It is unknown what will happen if a deal is not reached after these month-long weekly bargaining sessions have concluded.  (The union notes its regret in not securing more face time with management.)  But this is the first bit of positive news this website has observed since commencing coverage of the story late last year.  Perhaps a deal can be reached after all.
However, regardless of what happens next month, Sun TV, the station, faces an uphill battle in an overcrowded market.  Facing stiff competition from CFTO (CTV’s Toronto station), CBLT (CBC’s Toronto affiliate), CITY-TV, Global and the two OMNIs, its chances of survival are slim at best.  It can’t expect to improve its stature if it’s solely dependent on old programming and American simulcasts.  It needs to be different.  It is desperate for an identity that will make it stand out from the rest.  But that will cost money and talent. 
Are the station’s managers and the union willing to work together to make the necessary changes in order to see this transformation through?  If history is a guide, the outlook is worrisome.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, March 29, 2007
4:20 p.m.
CLARIFICATION:  This piece originally stated, “For over a year now, the union has been working without a collective bargaining agreement.”  While not untrue, the new version of that sentence is more accurate.  After The Canadian Media Guild successfully unionized Sun TV workers in 2005, they began to negotiate on their behalf for their first ever CBA late that year.  Employees had solo contracts with station management prior to the emergence of the CMG.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, September 21, 2007
11:08 p.m.
Published in: on March 29, 2007 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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