The impact of big tech, shrinking revenues and increased job cuts in the media sector, race and reporting, and harassment of journalists were among the headline discussions at this year’s Unifor Media Council, held Sept. 22 to 24 in Halifax.
Unifor National President Lana Payne spoke to the 100 delegates via Zoom and acknowledged media workers have had their share of hardships over the past years, including 2023.
Media sector layoffs continue to be a major concern for Unifor members, she said. There have been roughly 368 job losses for Unifor members working in the media since the beginning of the year.
“All of these [layoffs to date this year] were devastating for our members and devastating for the state of local news in this country,” said Payne. “I have repeatedly said that Canadians need to start paying attention because one day they will wake up and there will no longer be any local news.”
Unifor will continue to advocate for safer workplaces for media workers, guard against job loss from artificial intelligence (AI) by protecting work through collective bargaining, Payne said. The union will also keep fighting for legislation to force big tech to pay up.
“Don’t discount your victories,” she said. “Fighting big tech is not for the faint of heart. Fighting for legislation even if it is imperfect is still a great win.”
Keynote speaker Howard Law, a retired Unifor national representative, took the stage on the first day to speak about how big tech giants are impacting Canadian news media.