Moonstone Music

Musings on music composition, walks in the woods, and life after the big city.

Location: Moonstone, Ontario, Canada

I'm a music composer, clarinetist, writer, podcaster, environmentalist and warrior against the terrors of everyday living!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

CBC Lockout

It’s a beautiful cool morning, with the sun shining through the mostly green leaves, and catching some red and gold ones. Billowing white clouds sail past, then close in for a brief rain shower, then open up again to brilliant blue sky. And it’s a Saturday morning of a long weekend! I don’t have to travel to my daytime job in Barrie until Tuesday morning Woohoo!

My husband Nick had a great idea for a Christmas CD which I think I’d like to start working on after Lilies is finished. It may be too late for this year, but there’s always next.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the CBC lockout. I used to work for the CBC and like a first love, you never really lose the passion that brought you to work there in the first place. At least I haven’t. If I were still working there, I’d be marching around Front and John Streets in Toronto because I belonged to the group of employees that is currently locked out. I went through two strikes while I was there. The second one was more painful than the first, as the first one began within two weeks of my being hired and I barely knew anyone. By the time of the second strike however, I was a fully-integrated associate director, with lots of colleagues on both sides of the line, and fully committed to my sole source of income.

I was naïve of course. Still am I suppose. But I remember waking up every morning hoping to be back to work the next day. I think it was a three week strike. I remember the humiliation of wearing the huge picket signs. I don’t know why it should be so humiliating. Maybe it’s like wearing a dunce cap, or being put in stocks. You’re being publicly marked out in a way that destroys your personal identity. You aren’t you anymore. You’re a picket sign representing an idea and it’s somehow embarrassing. Your need for paid work is being presented to the world for judgment and hopefully the world judges your cause is worthy of support.

I remember thinking that four hours of walking around the building is the least I can do to earn strike pay from the union. But it turned out to be mind-numbing, and an unusual type of punishment. Eventually I got bored with the intellectual games I played in my mind, (trying to remember lyrics of entire songs, trying to observe something new about my surroundings every day…) Reading and walking was too tricky and chatting with colleagues usually stirred up frustrated feelings. I remember watching myself walking fast under some misguided notion that the faster or better I walked the line, the sooner I’d get back to work. It’s really tough.

So I took a look at and felt all these memories come back and actually lost a sense of who I am now as I identified with the locked out CMG guild members. Part of the complex set of reasons I left CBC when I did was because I had a growing sense of unease about the way the corporation was responding to changing technologies. As a musician, I had produced a broadcast-quality CD of my own music and I was able to do it in my own home. I hadn’t used any of the marvelous CBC radio studios, microphones, technologies or staff I had worked with in my day job – just my own “prosumer” equipment and my own skills. And I could see that soon it would be just as easy to produce video from home studios. And I could see nothing in the daily life of the CBC that showed awareness and adaptation to this new world.

As a freelancer now, I should be welcoming a new commitment to contract and freelance work as that theoretically, that would make it easier for me to submit work to the CBC. It seems to me the only way it can survive. But why must CBC follow the general trend of big business to make its changes on the backs of its workers? It is so short-sighted to write off the very real value of expertise, loyalty and the unmeasurable capacity of human beings to come up with innovative solutions. To think you can cut costs and increase produce value by reducing staff is just wrong. But as long as people believe in their right to shop in dollar stores where everything they need should cost just one dollar, then how can you demand integrity about recognizing human value in a business environment?


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