Wednesday, August 31, 2005

How May I Direct Your Call??

I've been saying that for three days straight now - it's been the longest three days of my life, mind you. I've taken a temp job as a receptionist - it's out of necessity really. I just couldn't do it on lockout pay alone. Most of my day is spent directing other's calls and shipping packages. SHIPPING THOSE BLOODY PACKAGES. I swear I don't care if I ever see another waybill as long as I live. And THE BEST was that I was trained by the permanent receptionist on friday for a couple of hours and I distinctly remember her saying "oh don't worry about shipping internationally - that won't happen." ok, i'd say 95% of the shit i've shipped in the last 3 days has been international! and the US has some tight rules on shipping ANYTHING to their little country. yay homeland security!
anyway, the larger picture here is that i've realized i'm really qualified to do what i do and completely underqualified for anything else. seriously. i feel like such a dumbass sometimes where i'm working now - and a lot of people there i'm sure assume all i do is temp. that's pretty humbling too. someone there said to me the other day "gee i don't know how you temps do it- going from job to job!". yes- i'm fulfillling my lifelong dream right now... will you please take a picture of me and send it to my mom? ha!
kay enough bitching - at least i'm sortof working right now.
today we staged an event in front of city hall - an hour long broadcast of what we'd do if we weren't locked out. it was great - a real spirit booster, i thought. kudos to glassman and the crew that organized and took part in it - ron, portia, kim, olivier, peter, mark c, mark h, the tech crew, terry jones, ginette benoit, maria dunn - and i know there's lots i'm missing, so, sorry. it was also great to see politicians take part. you know, i never understand why some people shy away from participating in something like this. it's all in good fun. those that do participate make me happy because you have hope that they get it. they get that the cbc isn't about the institution, it's about all the people that work there to make it, well, work! i think the group that staged cbc unlocked showed that today.
read more about it soon on edmontoncbc or cbcontheline.
my last thought: while this lockout is making some headway in the spirit-breaking department, it's beginning to do what i feared most: breaking up our small edmonton-cbc family. people are starting to think about moving on - and some already have. people that know me and are reading this will think i'm being over-dramatic, but i came to edmonton knowing virtually no one, having no family here, and some of my co-workers have become my close friends and surrogate family. i LIKE going to work every day - and some of that has to do with those i work with. not everyone can say that. but i know people (even me) could move on when we were working, i just think this lockout may be expediting the process.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Fringe A No-No

Kay i have to give christine chomiak credit for that catchy title! i also have to give her heaps of credit for getting hosts of shows on cjsr to donate time to our locked out cbc show. she says the response was positive and plenty of hosts volunteered to give us 30 mins of air time. so it looks like we might get our radio show after all! will keep posted.
also we now have a local CMG edmonton site: (link to your left), not to be confused with our old news website! too funny.
i'd just like to say before i continue recapping the past days events that we've done a pretty good job of keeping the lockout in the public conciousness. even on a saturday - today i opened the edmonton journal and found three letters to the editor on the lockout: all supportive and one by our very own kim trynacity. now what i enjoyed about reading her letter was it serves as a reminder (especially to albertans) that people should really expect more from their public broadcaster, including in our regional coverage when we're back on the air. "does the cbc need a shakeup? absolutely. too much power is concentrated on too few desks in toronto." good point - and worth letting people hear about.
anyhoo, back to picketing adventures. thursday was a gorgeous day - seemed like a great day for information picketing at the fringe festival, fringe a go-go. we knew the rules: stay outside the main area, if you go in (to use the washroom, etc), roll up your sign. if someone asked you for a postcard to sign while you were on the grounds, we didn't think anything of giving people one. and we were going to meet in the beer tent at 4pm, where radio active would have normally been. so, andree, christine, ron wilson and i spent the majority of our afternoon in an area that was fenced in that normally serves as a road, but was seemingly outside the fringe boundary. we were there 1.5 hours with not so much as a peep from anyone from the festival. at about 4, we rolled up our signs and ventured inside to see if people were at the beer tent. although we didn't see anyone, we ran into a cameraman from another station and larry mcdonald outside the beer tent boundary. we all stopped to chat, the cameraman asked to see one of our cards, then gave it back to us. we said bye, turned to leave and were jumped on by this fringe beer tent volunteer and the fracas insued:
Fringe:"you can't hand those out here! i saw you!".
Andree: "but that guy's our friend and he just wanted to see one. "
F: "well you can go meet your friends off site and give them out there!"
Christine: "but he didn't even keep it"
F: "look, this is really difficult for us and next year we hope to have you back as sponsors"
Me: "yeah this is really difficult for US too" (thinking YOU try being locked out by your employer and treated like you have a highly contageous disease by a volunteer with a god complex).
we leave.
but it doesn't end there: about 10 minutes to the end of our shift, christine and i are in the place we were before (and for most of the day), when out of the corner of my eye i see burly security guard type volunteer approaching (we'll call him Burly Security, or BS for short)
BS: can i have your business cards please?
Me: no.
BS: i need your names then.
Me: no you don't. (i wasn't born yesterday)
BS: well i need you to leave then - you're on our property and you've been told not to be here.
Me: (feeling argumentative, tired, and cranky by this point) how come we've been here all day and no one's said anything? in fact other fringe people have watched us stand here for more than 2 hours!
BS: well maybe they didn't know! look don't argue with me , just get off (starts cornering us)
Me: i'm not arguing, i'm just ASKING
we leave. BS watches us go. BS feels good about himself about bullying two girls.
christine and i head to the corner of whyte and cgy.trail. along the way we're stopped by two people who really want to sign our cards, and say how ridiculously we're being treated given how much publicity we've given the fringe in the past (thank you)- we give them two to sign. out of the corner of MY eye, BS approaches. but they finish signing and we move further to the corner to wait for the traffic light.
BS does a drive by.
while waiting for the light, we're stopped by a guy who wants to know a bit more about the situation, and tells us he doesn't like unions, and argues a bit with us (friendly though). again, i see BS approaching. by this time we've stopped talking to the guy and are just waiting for the next light to cross.
BS: i told you to leave!
Me: we're just waiting for the bloody light to change!!!! To Christine: you know we should run out into traffic, cause an accident and then blame it on him!
we cross, go to the black dog for a beer and to cool down.
BS thinks all he's learned at security guard school has now paid off.

ok so whether you agree with us getting kicked off or not, i think overall the way we've been treated by them is awful. while i might be a bit biased, at no point were we ever A.disturbing the peace, or B. disrespectful to the fringe patrons. very frustrating.

so on tap for this week: a lunchtime rally/concert on wednesday in front of city hall or in the library depending on the weather. 12 -2 pm i believe.
the blog may be a little less frequent because i'm gainfully employed this week as an administrative assistant. it's just for this week, but holy crap does it ever feel weird taking on this work. not that i don't think it's important or good work, but it's not doing what i love to do, or what i'm trained to do, with the coworkers i'm so fond of. but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Friday, August 26, 2005

What Were They Thinking??

This is my new feature whereby i ask cbc edmonton employees what they're thinking this very moment on the picket line... i could ask at any time!

LYLE COTT: VJ - English TV News
"How sore my shoulder is."

OLIVIER DURIVAGE: Host- Telejournal
"The first thought that came to my mind was 'shut up' and i don't know why! i didn't mean to be rude!"

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Support Your Local Sports Guy!

This is Mark Connolly and Dan Riendeau handing out support cards Saturday at Commonwealth. You may recognize Mark from such olympics as Athens, Salt Lake, Sydney, etc etc. He also files for CNow Edmonton daily. Dan's a radio producer here, in the middle of his contract when we were locked out.


sorry - i couldn't think of a more clever title. the prospect of picketing in the sun has given me a renewed energy! yee haw!
like many other locked out cbc-ers, the edmonton crew was trying to get a 30 minute radio show with our university station CJSR. unbelievably, we've been rejected. mark harvey says the program director there couldn't find us a spare 30 minutes on their airwaves! i find this outrageous, really. calgary has successfully got 30 minutes, and i've heard the vancouver crew has got stations all over BC carrying their stuff, but we can't get a lousy 30 minutes a week??? it's especially insulting since i'm told the program director there is often a contributor to various edmonton cbc radio programs.
well, we are not to be deterred - or rather christine chomiak isn't about to be deterred! i think her plans are to e-mail the cjsr program hosts and ask if they'd like to donate 30 minutes of their show to our cause. i admire her chutzpah, but it's a shame it's come to this.
speaking of shames, apparently the fringe festival is less than thrilled with our picketing presence near their area. i know we've kept a very respectful distance, but that doesn't seem to matter. if i were in a negative mood, i'd say it seems like OH MY GOD THE WORLD'S AGAINST US! but i know that's just not true, from the volume of support we've received from people and passersby and certain politicians like ndp mla raj pannu and other labour organizations. so if non-cbc people are reading this, and you pass by one of our picket lines, it really can't hurt to offer words of encouragement - it really does keep spirits up. i even don't mind the half-supportive comments, like the one i got via e-mail from my friend sue: "while i'm kind of glad for the lockout because there's lots of coronation street - if you're not happy i'm not happy." thanks sue - it means a lot! really!
so i've been reading cbc on the line (link to your left), and read with particular interest the row with stursberg and david shannon. i think it just speaks to how pissed off lots of people are - some of it's bound to boil over. i can't help but feel that current management is killing the cbc with every day we're locked out. and how when and if we ever get back to work, we're the ones that are going to have to bust our collective asses to fix things with our local viewers and audiences. that's just wrong.
hey, if you're reading this and you live in edmonton, go see "hip hop 4 dummeez" and "gags for the masses" at the fringe (while i'm still mad at the fringe organizers, i can't take it out on the artists that come here). anyway -two hilarious shows. "gags" is also very thought provoking.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Rain, Rain, Go the F&*% Away!!

it's raining. again. seriously. i'm beginning to think we've either A. been cursed, B. did something really bad in a previous life or C. mysteriously keep waking up in vancouver. i remember my first summer in edmonton, i think it rained twice in 100 days. so i'm on my way to hit the picket line one more time in the rain.
yesterday we did some picketing at the fringe festival - this is a place where one of the radio shows has it's own beer tent and now we have no presence, except on the outside. but once again, it's a cbc-friendlier crowd, so there were lots of enthusiastic card signers.
andree lau and i have both noticed in reading some other blogs that certain picket lines seem very entertaining. ottawa for example has musical interludes! it's really great to see that people across the country are making the best of it. yesterday prior to hitting the fringe, we did the usual rounds downtown. alberta beef producers were doing bbq beef on a bun, so some of our troupe took advantage of the free lunch -- them and half the city. since i don't eat the beef, i hung back until churchill square was clearing out. barb boyechko and i did a tour with our signs around the square and noticed there was another free aspect to the bbq: FREE BEER! some edmonton MLAs were handing out beer samples, and being quite, um, generous with their sample sizes. it's no concert or street hockey game, but a fun moment to break up the day!
i'm putting some new links up to new sites, including terry reith's picture site.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Honk Please!

CBC Edmonton staff await the Prime Minister's arrival - and solicit honks of support from oncoming truckers!
photo courtesy andree lau.

Picketing Paul

First - the first manager-run CFL game and now this: Paul Martin had a fundraising bbq here today. keeps picketing interesting - let me tell you!
but not to get too far ahead: on saturday we hit the eskimos - argos game to hand out postcards people can sign and mail to pm the pm supporting cbc employees. sounds simple, but in a province where our premier has an open disdain for the cbc, and has expressed it numerous times, i knew there may be some that are less than friendly to our cause. not surprisingly i was right. it wasn't easy as it sounds getting people to sign those darn things, but we did. of course, we got the usual smattering of negativity: "get back to work" (uh - can't... we're locked out), "i don't support strikers" (uh - again... LOCKED OUT), "i don't want any" (?), and the usual people who just don't like the cbc. but on the other end of it, there was lots of support: union people, people who miss radio and tv, and people who love the cbc. that made it worthwhile. also, one of the edmonton journal columnists, scott mckeen was there to get material for today's column. (it's good by the way - i'd post a link, but you gotta pay to get it). anyhoo, other than gathering the signatures, things were pretty quiet. portia (our cnow host) , zooboy (our "do everything" guy) and i were approached by security to leave the area as we were were trying to get around the stadium. yes, we were just trying to get around. no picketing, no handing out anything... once security realized this, he was willing to let us pass, but it was a bit humbling to say the least.

that brings us to today - and the PM's BBQ.
-as an aside: we sure are getting a wide variety of picket locations in - and later this week, we're hitting edmonton's fringe festival - a typically cbc friendly crowd.

before the bbq, our two intrepid legislative reporters, kim trynacity and john archer hit up martin's press conference. kim got to ask the first question (carried live on newsnet): comments on the cbc lockout please!? according to kim, pm says he's a fan, but that he's not going to intervene in the labour dispute. great.
so at the bbq, we found ourselves sharing picket space with several other labour-challenged groups: telus workers (they say they're locked out, telus says they're on strike - we share the downtown picket corridor with them currently), federal corrections employees (still not sure if they were there in sympathy for telus or if they had their own issues), two people from the nurses union, i think i saw a postal workers sign, and two people carrying placards pushing for alberta seperation (???). it seemed like a complete gong show at times! the other groups had megaphones and whistles and by the end of it, i had a screaming headache and a burning desire to rip my own eardrums out.
by the time martin showed up, there was the usual media circus and then the crowd got a bit ugly. well, maybe not ugly, but slightly unattractive. when the gates to the parking lot closed, this wave of people pushed towards them-- most of us cbc-ers shimmied to one side and continued to chant for a while, but i think thanks to the great previous work done by kim and john, we felt heard. we also had one of martin's aids present him with two full baskets of signed postcards from the game.
the telus people were still chanting when i left. one of them was screaming "oh sure, you'll talk to cbc, but not us!!" so much for solidarity.

if there's one thing i'm learning in all this (besides that whistles are EVIL), it's that my coworkers rock. i knew this before, but it's been solidified - for the most part they are the heartiest bunch of people, making the best of this situation. makes this a whole lot easier to do.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Commonwealth Thursday

Here's Archer, Catherine, Minner and Scott all ready to take on the trucks outside Commonwealth stadium. Unfortunately no trucks ever showed, but we were prepared. Picture courtesy Andree.

Here's Andree, me and Catherine looking almost too happy on day 2 of the lockout. Yes, Andree IS wearing gloves because it was THAT COLD. If you could see my hands, you'd see that I was wearing mittens too - and somewhere in my backback, there was a toque.

Sunny Sunday

of course it's sunny today. it's the weekend and there's no picketing. since i just started this blog-thing, here's a little catch up: cbc edmonton employees have proved to be a hardcore bunch. for the first 4 days of the lockout it was cold and rainy here. i swear there were days when the rain didn't stop. we're in the unique position of being downtown edmonton, located in a mall, and in the hub of a major bus-stop location. so we walked around the entire block - making sure that people catching the bus on either side of the building saw us. every so often, we'd stand under this sheltered area to get a break from the rain. several times, we were told to leave by mall management - several ironies there, including how much money we've pumped into that mall since our tenancy began.
so day one and two were mall-based days for the most part. on tuesday, i celebrated my 29th birthday on the line. larry, one of our cameramen, was very sweet and brought me a muffin with a candle in it and people sang happy birthday. it was actually very funny and strangely moving. wednesday we were told that we'd be moving a picket line to commonwealth stadium. the cbc was setting up for it's first national broadcast: an eskimos - argos game. we'd also heard they may have hired american crews to come up and help, so we set up around the clock lines at the stadium. in the rain. still.
a bunch of us volunteered to go - frankly, the change of scenery was nice. andree and i were hoping we'd get to stop some teamsters' trucks on the way in. although no trucks ever came, i was glad we were there and had our bases covered. there were management-types already there, hanging around the winnipeg mobile that had been brought in to do the job (apparently no one knows how to work the edmonton mobile). on thursday, we returned to commonwealth to see that there had been a FENCE built around the mobile. really. now i don't know if this is standard practice, but i'm told not by several sources.