Guest blogger: Pollyanna

Sent to me by sadforcbc.

Dear Hubert

The departure of Stephen Satchel to Coca Cola Ltd. is an opportunity.

It’s an opportunity to redefine the relationship between CBC and CMG and it should be seized.

No doubt they were cracking Pepsi’s in the union office for a couple of days, but now that the carbonated euphoria has worn off, you and they ought to sit down for a chat about going forward.

The stakes are enormous.

As you know, Stephen’s replacement will be the person entrusted with negotiating the next contract with the CMG. This is an awesome responsibility, as she/he will be the face and voice of the corporation as it engages all of us, the non-management employees.

Everyone should know this but I’ll say it anyway. Contract negotiations don’t simply begin and end with a contract. In a sense, negotiations never end. They are continuous, shaped and molded by the policies and desires of the two sides day in day out. As a lawyer Hubert, I am sure you appreciate that contracts live and breathe. As you well know, they are constantly interpreted, reinterpreted, tested, grieved and arbitrated.

By definition, ours is an adversarial relationship because both sides are forced into an “us and them” mentality which defines how we interact.

How many times have we seen this movie, or a variation thereof?

Scene One: Management announces initiative.

Scene Two: Union denounces saying it wasn’t consulted.

Scene Three: Management says see? They hate everything so we can’t consult.

Scene Four: Union says management is a bunch of boneheads who have no vision of public broadcasting.

Scene Five: Everyone gets all worked up and entrenched in their positions.

Scene Six: Players retreat to their respective caves, bitter as all get out.

Scene Seven: CBC bashers chortle.

The Sequel: Same old.

In all seriousness Hubert, I salute your commitment to discussion. It is crucial that your management team reflects that spirit of openness and bravery.

For too long, management and employees have focussed on their differences rather than exploring common ground. Dick must still go, in large part because he is the biggest impediment to this process, but for the purposes of this post, the issue is bigger than Dick.

That’s why we need to continue the constructive discussion you have engaged us in. As for Stephen’s replacement, whomever it is that represents you and negotiates with us, in this adversarial relationship we have inherited, needs to come to the table with the skills and confidence and ideas required to yes, debate temps and meal breaks and contracting out etc etc, but also the vision to help forge and define a more comprehensive relationship which brings us together. The CBC is fighting to survive and we all have a common stake in that.

So maybe this is a good time to catch our breath. A good time to look around, not necessarily at each other. A good time to talk about the things we have in common, a good time to learn to trust. The new Stephen needs a healthy dose of that.

Maybe it’s pollyannaish to hope that things can turn around. But maybe the new Stephen needs to be a Pollyanna. Or at least be familiar with her thinking.

So in the spirit of constructive discussion, she asked the community at large, are there some thoughts on what it is we can all agree on?



  1. Anonymous
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 2:52 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I want to thank sad for commenting on the future of this organization in the positive spirit which it deserves. After attending today’s meeting regarding the corporate re-structuring under Richard Stursberg, I couldn’t help but feel that nothing has changed. The same senior managers responsible for the lockout still linger, except for Jane Chalmers. And until the head of English Services moves on, I don’t feel good about future negotiations. The CBC needs someone, anyone, to step up and stand for what is right. By following some of the ideas in sad’s essay, we have a real chance to do better.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 1:06 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The NEW Stephen Satchel will have horns because once they knock you to the ground that’s when the kicking starts.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 6:41 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    As a 23-year veteran of the Mother Corpse, I couldn’t add any more to this – you’ve hit the nail full on the head!

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