Overstory Media workers file to unionize with CWA Canada
A majority of about 30 editorial employees of Overstory Media Group have signed union cards with CWA Canada, which filed today for certification with the federal labour board.
The reporters, editors and community managers who work at 12 media outlets across the country say that forming a union, to be known as the Overstory Media Guild, will ensure the success of the journalism startup as it continues to grow.
The electronic membership cards were filed at the Canada Industrial Relations Board, which normally grants certification without requiring workers to vote on the matter.
CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon welcomed the OMG workers, saying unionizing will be good for staff, for the company, and for journalism.
“Having a union and a collective agreement will empower OMG workers, give them a true voice in the workplace, make them real partners, and increase job satisfaction, morale, and stability. That’s good for everyone.”
A person on the organizing committee said that “Members of Overstory Media Guild joined the company optimistic in its message: to provide high-quality journalism to our communities, and the goal of this union is to uphold that promise.”
The application is the culmination of a months-long campaign to organize workers located in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax.
The organizing committee said in a mission statement that it aims to help members and the company address a variety of issues including skills development, work-life balance, diversity, turnover and burnout.
The company, founded in 2021 by CEO Farhan Mohamed and Executive Chairman Andrew Wilkinson, comprises a dozen outlets, including two acquired last year: The Coast in Halifax and The Georgia Straight in Vancouver. Those are in addition to: Capital Daily, Fraser Valley Current, Burnaby Beacon, Vancouver Tech Journal, Victoria Tech Journal, New West Anchor, The Westshore, Oak Bay Local, Tasting Victoria, and Calgary Citizen.
Overstory Media Guild Mission Statement
In the past year and a half of its existence, Overstory Media Group (OMG) has grown into one of Canada’s leading journalism companies, with high-quality, award-winning reporting from Capital Daily, The Coast, Fraser Valley Current, Burnaby Beacon, Vancouver Tech Journal, Victoria Tech Journal, New West Anchor, Calgary Citizen, The Westshore, Oak Bay Local, Tasting Victoria, Eat Tri Cities, and The Georgia Straight.
We, the workers of OMG, take pride in the hard work, ingenuity, and passion that have gone into making this journalism start-up a success. In order to ensure its continued success, we believe that forming a union is the best way forward — not only for ourselves, but for OMG as a whole.
The company itself was founded on the principles of “community-first” reporting and “high-quality storytelling.” On World Press Freedom Day, Overstory CEO Farhan Mohamed summarized it this way:
“We will never seek to maximize profitability over ethics or treating our people and communities right. [We will] do what’s best for the community. Listen to what people need. Deliver the right information and create great experiences.”
We believe a union is an indispensable part of this equation and a critical component of building a workplace that listens, treats its people and communities right, and helps OMG reach its best potential. This will only become more important as OMG continues to grow and introduce more brands across the country.
With OMG’s growth, we believe that a union will help our company to develop pathways for each of its employees to pursue challenges, develop skills, and continue to grow professionally; to build a workplace that celebrates and nurtures its members’ strengths, and cares for them as individuals; to increase our publications’ reach and quality of coverage; and to introduce and strengthen systems to reduce turnover and burnout. We will all benefit from clear policies setting out brand and editorial vision, organizational structure, and employee success, while also introducing concrete measures for achieving greater diversity in our workplace and programming, encouraging long-term employee retention, and protecting our members’ work-life balance.
Forming a union will help each of us to perform our jobs better. By forming a union as OMG grows into its second year and looks toward continued expansion, we believe we’re setting Overstory and its workers up for long-term success. This process will help us build upon the hard work that got us here, and to create a healthy, sustainable, and equitable future for the company.
Overstory’s mission is “community first.” At its core, we believe this union will help us to better serve our communities for years to come — together.
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