Thirty reporters, editors and community managers across 12 media outlets are behind the unionization drive, which will be known as Overstory Media Guild, following what CWA says was a months-long campaign to organize workers in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax.
Founded in 2021, by CEO Farhan Mohamed, co-founder of Daily Hive, and Executive Chairman and tech entrepreneur Andrew Wilkinson, the startup acquired legacy alt-weeklies The Coast in Halifax and The Georgia Straight in Vancouver last year. They joined Victoria’s Capital Daily, Fraser Valley Current, Burnaby Beacon, Vancouver Tech Journal, Victoria Tech Journal, New West Anchor, The Westshore, Oak Bay Local, Tasting Victoria, and the Calgary Citizen.
Earlier this week, OMG laid off four editorial staff at Capital Daily – the company’s second round of layoffs in as many months – releasing managing editor Jimmy Thomson; journalist and copy editor Jolene Rudisuela; and reporters Brishti Brasu and Shannon Waters.
Overstory Media Guild’s mission statement indicates its goal is to help members and the company address a variety of issues spanning skills development, work-life balance, diversity, turnover and burnout.
“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,” it states.
“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,” the statement continues. “This will only become more important as OMG continues to grow and introduce more brands across the country.”
CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said in a statement that unionizing will ultimately be good for staff, the company, and 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,” said O’Hanlon. “That’s good for everyone.”
Subscribe Now – Free!
Broadcast Dialogue has been required reading in the Canadian broadcast media for 30 years. When you subscribe, you join a community of connected professionals from media and broadcast related sectors from across the country.
The Weekly Briefing from Broadcast Dialogue is delivered exclusively to subscribers by email every Thursday. It’s your link to critical industry news, timely people moves, and excellent career advancement opportunities.
Let’s get started right now.