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Statement on Unifor’s political actions and Canadian journalists

September 20, 2019

As unionized employees of media outlets, we are members of Unifor, the private-sector trade union that represents more than 300,000 Canadian workers in 20 sectors of the economy. But many of us are also journalists whose livelihoods depend on being able to report the news free of outside influence.

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Like the vast majority of Canadians we have the right to join a union and defend our jobs and working conditions. Sometimes, this aligns us with the broader labour movement — unionized workers in a variety of sectors who can and do take stands on many issues. We recognize that for them, this is fine. But it may leave some observers with a false impression of Unifor-affiliated journalists because we are under the same labour umbrella. While we have no doubt that our journalism is uncompromised by our union membership, others may see things differently.

Public perception of our work matters for us in a way that it doesn’t for workers in most industries. Having the trust of our audiences is what gives us credibility. And these days, the perception of journalists is not always great. This is magnified in an election year. Readers and politicians alike may harbour suspicions about the motivations of the journalists who cover politics, and their bosses. But we hope and believe that most audiences understand this fact: our professionalism and integrity are too important to be subject to the whims of our employers — or our union.

We have been watching with growing concern as the president of Unifor, Jerry Dias, has led a very public campaign against the leader of the federal opposition, Andrew Scheer, and his Conservative Party. When the head of Unifor speaks, many of our readers assume that his words reflect the views of his members, including media workers. Attacks aimed at any political party, leader or candidate can introduce doubt among readers about bias and the independence of journalists. Meanwhile, those on the receiving end of such attacks will gladly inflame such doubt to further their own agendas.

To us, it doesn’t matter which political parties Mr. Dias or the Unifor executive decide to support or oppose. Our response would be the same if Unifor’s political action was against Justin Trudeau and the Liberals. Journalists must remain independent to be taken seriously.

Mr. Dias says that he and the national union office will carry on with an “aggressive campaign” to warn Canadian voters about the Conservatives’ “anti-worker” platform ahead of election day. As journalists first and foremost, we would like to make this point clear: On matters of partisan politics, Jerry Dias and Unifor do not speak for us.

Signed,

Mason Wright, The Globe and Mail
Adrian Morrow, The Globe and Mail
Amberly McAteer, The Globe and Mail
Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail
Matt Lundy, The Globe and Mail
Steven Chase, The Globe and Mail
Daniel Leblanc, The Globe and Mail
Evan Annett, The Globe and Mail
Adrian Lee, The Globe and Mail
Peter Scowen, The Globe and Mail
Michael Haslett, Global National
Carrie Tait, The Globe and Mail
Bryan Gee, The Globe and Mail
Sean Silcoff, The Globe and Mail
Elizabeth Renzetti, The Globe and Mail
Joy Yokoyama, The Globe and Mail
Simon Houpt, The Globe and Mail
David Akin, Global News
Cliff Lee, The Globe and Mail
Carine Abouseif, The Globe and Mail
Janice Dickson, The Globe and Mail
Michael Snider, The Globe and Mail
Chris Hannay, The Globe and Mail
Campbell Clark, The Globe and Mail
Marieke Walsh, The Globe and Mail
Michelle Zilio, The Globe and Mail
Erin Anderssen, The Globe and Mail
Kristy Kirkup, The Globe and Mail
Nicolas Van Praet, The Globe and Mail
Jeffrey M Jones, The Globe and Mail
Sherrill Sutherland, The Globe and Mail
Jeremy Agius, The Globe and Mail
Renata D’Aliesio, The Globe and Mail
Christine Dobby, The Globe and Mail
Melissa Tait, The Globe and Mail
Josh O’Kane, The Globe and Mail
Nathan VanderKlippe, The Globe and Mail
Shannon Proudfoot, Maclean’s
Ricardo Veneza, CTV News Windsor/AM800 News
Brian Thomson, The Globe and Mail
David Parkinson, The Globe and Mail
Robyn Doolittle, The Globe and Mail
Judith Pereira, The Globe and Mail
John Daly, The Globe and Mail
Adam Radwanski, The Globe and Mail
Tom Cardoso, The Globe and Mail
Jeff Gray, The Globe and Mail
Ryan Thorpe, Winnipeg Free Press
Kathy Tomlinson, The Globe and Mail
Matthew Uhrig, Winchester Press
Justin Ling, Freelance, member of the Canadian Freelance Union
Joe Castaldo, The Globe and Mail
Tim Smith, Brandon Sun
Max Wark, CTV Kitchener
Oliver Moore, The Globe and Mail
Tom Brodbeck, Winnipeg Free Press
Steve Alexander, Global News
Tim McKenna, The Globe and Mail
Joe Fries, Penticton Herald
Erik Pindera, Global News Winnipeg
John Ibbitson, The Globe and Mail
André Picard, The Globe and Mail
Mark Bryson, Waterloo Region Record
Mark MacKinnon, The Globe and Mail

This letter is now closed to new signatures. Thanks for your support.

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