Talk to any veteran of the CBC for a while, especially CBC expats, and eventually you’ll hit the deep well of vitriol that lurks within. It seems that while CBC employees love their jobs, and may even believe deeply in the “institution,” they hate their employer.
The dominant workplace metaphor at the CBC appears to be “hearty bands of dedicated workers making good shows despite their employer.”
Listen to the lockout podcasts and you’ll hear this hatred loud and clear: much of the commentary is simply about the indignity of the lockout, and it’s not unlike what you’d hear from the archetypal spouse whose partner leaves them for a younger lover despite their years of selfless toil.
It’s certainly not unusual to hate your employer — when I worked for a Thomson newspaper there was certainly no love lost for Mr. Thomson (I once received applause at a union meeting for saying I’d rather have Ken Thomson down on his knees in front of me rather than the other way around). But I think that it’s rare to have a situation where employees are, generally speaking, passionately interested in and involved in their jobs while simultaneously seething about the conditions of their employment. At best this leads to helpful “creative tension.” But at worst it’s just plain unhealthy.
Even it the CBC and the Media Guild work out their immediate differences and the CBC unlocks the doors, I can’t imagine this problem can be negotiated away. If anything, the lockout is, by getting employees out on the streets with nothing to do but talk to each other 20 hours a week, going to deepen the gulf.
Despite the several layers of democracy and bureaucracy between us, “we the people” are the real employer of the 5,500 locked out workers, and the CBC is, in theory, negotiating on our behalf. What can we do to change the employment dynamic at the corporation so that we’re not employing public broadcasters who, well, hate us.