Monday, September 1, 2008

Letter of Support from Anna Willats and Mayworks

August 26, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Art. Mayworks is a multi-disciplinary arts festival that celebrates working class culture. Founded in 1986 by the Labour Arts Media Committee of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, Mayworks is Canada's largest and oldest labour arts festival. The Festival was built on the premise that workers and artists share a common struggle for decent wages, healthy working conditions and a living culture. Mayworks' goal is to promote the interests of cultural workers and trade unionists, and to bring working-class culture from the margins of cultural activity onto centre stage.

We are outraged at the recent actions of the CKLN Board of Directors and management, who have fired News Director Kristin Schwartz (a journalist and producer of programming which has aired across Canada and the United States) and staff member Tien Providence, and dismissed over 30 volunteers – all without cause. These are violations of Kristin and Tien’s rights as unionized workers in the midst of bargaining for a first contract, and profoundly disrespectful toward volunteers – activists like Adhri Redman, Verlia Stevens, Nik Red, Don Weitz and many others - who have given many many hours of their time and their passion to CKLN and its listeners.
Up until recently, we have been able to rely on CKLN's news department for broadcasting progressive perspectives on the critical issues of our time and for providing access to the airwaves to marginalized people who are underrepresented or misrepresented in mainstream media. CKLN also created opportunities for students, youth and community members to learn about broadcasting. As a small non-profit organization, Mayworks was very appreciative of Kristin Schwartz’ and the CKLN team’s excellent support for community events such as ours. But with these most recent actions, we must conclude that the CKLN board no longer is committed to a social justice or community building perspective.

Mayworks joins many in our community who protest this unjust treatment of staff and volunteers, which seems targeted at those who have challenged the board, and we demand that all those who have been dismissed be reinstated, and that the people currently controlling the board step down and that the legitimately elected board be reinstated, to return CKLN to its former well-respected position.

Yours truly,

Anna Willats, Chair

Mayworks Festival of Working People & the Arts

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