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May 2nd, 2016 Board Minutes

Media Coop Board Meeting

May 2nd, 2016

Present: Ashley, Arielle, Geordie, Roddy, Darryl, Vanessa

Darryl taking minutes

 

Agenda:

Distribution

Financial Accountability

Payment for Special Issues

Wages

AGM

MARG Conference and Caroline leaving

 

Distribution

- How many issues will we print?             

- We need a distribution plan

- estimate 1100 for sustainers

- 500 for lapsed sustainers

- Reserve hundreds for unions: CUPE, Unifor, etc.

- 150 for MARG – Reduced rate subscription for MARG attendees. Roddy will provide Ashley with sign up cards to hand out at MARG when she is in Montreal.

- Target the MPs – free mailing to MPs.

- 200 for Magazines Canada          

- Several hundred to students organizations that donated money to us

 

Promotional Tour

- Talk about doing a promotional tour in North Western BC in the fall to not only promote and further distribute the special issue, but also to promote The Media Coop and encourage people to get involved in it. There could potentially be workshops on citizen journalism, and how to use the MC website to promote local issues. We could apply for grants and PIRG funding, as similar tours were conducted in the past (in southern Ontario) and funded by PIRGs. Since the tour would be focused on reaching out to the Indigenous communities directly affected by these land defense issues, it will need to be done in the most respectful way possible and it would be great to have someone like Billie involved in the tour if she is interested since she was highly involved in the making of the special issue.

- Roddy pointed out that while North Western BC is a great location for the tour from a journalistic perspective, we’d raise more money in Southern Ontario. Suggestion to have tour cover both regions.

- Details about what the tour could look like can be discussed at a future meeting, but if we’re going to do it we need money. We could apply to Freedonia for a grant but the deadline is May 15th so we will need to do this ASAP.

- Roddy volunteers to apply for the Freedonia grant for this tour and will have the draft written up by this weekend. He will forward it to Arielle and the board to look over.

- Other potential PIRGs to ask are the UNBC PIRG, VIPIRG, SFPIRG, and the resource groups in September.

- The tour can focus on capacity building

- Roddy mentions grants that he would ask including government grants, the White Rabbit grant, and the summer students that we will likely get this summer who can help us organize the tour.

- Arielle asks Roddy to provide a list to the board of other places and individuals Roddy is thinking of asking for money.

- Roddy suggests that we can go ahead and print a lower number right now and then go back to Winchester later for reprinting of the issue if we find we don’t have enough copies for the tour.

- The question is raised whether this will cost a significant amount of money or not. Arielle says she will double check how much it would cost. Roddy thinks it would only be a few hundred dollars.

 

Magazines Canada

- Should we sign up with Magazines Canada and if so, how many issues would we need to allocate for them?

- Signing up with them is an investment into building our capacity because it allows us to reach people we wouldn’t otherwise reach

- In the past we’ve given them 200 issues (and received 15-20% returns on them)

- In general we’ve only ever sold 100 off of newsstands – mostly in the Toronto region in the student annex – it’s asserted that it never does well in Montreal because Montreal is highly competitive for alternative media options.

- It’s asked if this is due to the lack of bilingualism in the publication and it’s acknowledged that this is an issue.

- Ashley asks if the distribution locations are up to us or Magazines Canada.

- It is up to Magazines Canada to decide where to distribute them but they get distributed across Canada in all the urban locations.

- The issue with whether to order 5000 or 10000 isn’t the cost rather where we would store it.

- There is talk of storing it at Geordie’s in Toronto, but it’s questioned whether it will cost more money to ship it to multiple locations.

- It’s pointed out that we’ve never distributed 5000 copies before, even with our most successful special

(Ashley?) makes the motion to order 5000 copies.

It is seconded and then voted all in favor.

The motion to order 5000 copies passes.

The motion is made to sign up with Magazines Canada.

The motion to sign up with Magazines Canada passes.

Roddy says he will get us back on board with them ASAP since their deadline is now.

Podcast

- What is happening with it?

- Roddy says he will be meeting with David this week to finish the hiring process and needed documentation for it.

Launch Party –

- As it is, we only have one launch party being organized at the moment and it had to be postponed. It was initially going to be May 7th in Montreal, however, the Wolfe space said they were uncomfortable with the party being held there. Now we will be doing the party with CKUT, Submedia, and Juice Rap News in June. Likely June 12th or 13th.

- We need other cities/locals to organize launch parties.

- We will discuss this further over email.

 

Financial Accountability

- There are concerns about a lack of transparency in the ways Roddy has been conducting the chequing account since taking over it six months ago. Arielle has requested a number of times that he scan all financial documents, as she did while holding the position. He never responded to any of the emails she sent asking him to do so. In addition to this, she is confused about the ways he has changed the record keeping methods in the invoice tracking document. Instead of making the record keeping system more transparent, it has become more difficult to understand the system as it has been changed significantly since he took over the responsibility. There are also some inconsistencies in the remittance numbers that are written in the invoice tracking document with the bank statements. These inconsistencies point to the need to have an easily accessible folder with the requested scanned documents.

- Roddy states he is really busy and sorry he didn’t respond to the emails. He says he thought it was redundant to send the scans since he had arranged a system with Heather the bookkeeper where he didn’t have to do that.

- Arielle points out that while she held the responsibility she always sent scans to Roddy and Heather, but that she feels they should be sent to the MC board. Also, she points out that she had previously been storing them in a folder.

- Geordie states that it is important to have a paper trial of all financial records in one, easy to access space and asks if Roddy has a barrier in place that prevents him from doing it.

- Roddy says it’s difficult to find a scanner sometimes, but that he can do it.

- Vanessa agrees that it is important to have these records available to the board.

- She points out that having the records in one easy to access folder where the MC board can access them, rather than having them on various people’s computers and in random files, makes the organization more organized and transparent. It also guards against institutional memory loss in the case that the people holding those responsibilities are no longer present in the organization.

- Ashley agrees that we need to have these files in an easy to access folder for all MC board members.

- Roddy agrees that he will scan the eight invoices from the past six months and put them into a google doc folder for the MC board by the end of this week and that he will keep easily accessible records of all receipts, invoices, checks and deposit slips from now on.

- He also agrees that he will explain the invoice tracking document.

- What is our current cash flow? $6065 in the bank, with the $6000 Arielle and Ashley raised, but there’s going to be $3800 after payroll and remittances. Plus it will cost $525 for Magazines Canada. We also have around $1500 from advertisers and donors coming that Roddy was able to raise. Overall, we’ll have $11000 with all the money mostly raised by Caroline, Arielle, and Ashley but we will have a lot of bills to pay soon.

- Roddy says he will try to negotiate with the accountant to pay her later and commits to putting together a cash flow document with outstanding payments due.

- Geordie asks for the overdue analysis of where our members come from – Roddy says he’ll do it in next 7 days.

- Roddy states that we also have around $1700 a month coming in from subscribers.

 

Payment for Special Issues

- Arielle points out that Ashley and Billie need to get paid for their work on the special issue, in addition to the need to pay the issue’s contributors. She points out that Ashley took a leading role in publishing the issue and took on a lot of tasks that are normally reserved for paid staff, including fundraising, organizing meetings, ensuring deadlines were met, and finding writers, in addition to the editing tasks. In addition to this, Ashley and Geordie both contributed to the editing process in significant ways that deserve remuneration.

- Geordie states that he does not want to get paid because he is a volunteer.

- Darryl states that he’s never been paid for his labour in the organization and that when he asked to get paid for organizing an important event he was denied by the national.

- Geordie points out that it wasn’t the national responsible for organizing the event, rather it was the Toronto Media Coop, and that he did get his labour remunerated by the Toronto Media Coop.

- Arielle points out that Billie and Ashley were invited as guest editors and promised honorariums for their labour, though the exact amount was never decided on. She suggests that Ashley get paid $2000 for her labour since she played an integral role to the creation of the special issue and helped finance $6000 for it.

- Vanessa states that it is important to ensure people get paid fairly for their labour and points out that it is important that people track their hours so that there is a record.

- Ashley states that she’s been heavily involved in the process since November 2015, and spent the first couple months searching for another Indigenous editor to reliably sit on the collective with her. They weren’t able to go forward with the content production until they found Billie in January, at which point the labour involved in the process became intensive for a four month period. She estimates that if she low balls how many hours she put in over the course of those four months alone than she counts a minimum of 500 hours.

- Vanessa points out that at 500 hours a $2000 honorarium is equal to a wage of $4 per hour and that it is unsustainable for the organization to fail to properly reimburse people’s labour like this. She emphasizes the importance of ensuring people’s labour gets fairly reimbursed.

- Arielle makes a motion that Ashley get paid a $2000 honorarium for her work as guest editor in the special issue.

- The motion passes.

- Ashley states that she is interested in writing up a proposal on how the editing process can become more expedient and less time consuming, so that future special issues don’t take as long or as much labour. She thinks a lot of the labour she did could have been avoided if there had been better editing guidelines and accountability structures in place.

- Ashley makes a motion to pay Billie an honorarium of $1000 for her work as guest editor for the special issue.

- The motion passes.

- Roddy asks that there be flexibility in payment to Billie and Ashley, depending on finances, and suggests a three month payment program. He states he will look at the finances and draft up a payment schedule.

 

Fundraising

- Arielle proposes that we hire a dedicated fundraiser on contract. We can pay this person a set amount each month and their sole duty would be to raise more than this number. They can be paid a commission on all money raised above this number as further incentive (maybe 10%?)

- Roddy points out that this has been tried in the past and failed, in part due to lack of oversight and prospects

- Ashley, Geordie and Vanessa express interest in this idea

- Roddy questions the need for further effort towards fundraising, claiming he raised $55,000 last year

- Roddy discusses the importance of making long-term strategic goals to work towards with fundraising. He discusses how in organizations, you make goals and then figure out how to achieve those goals. He gives the example of a wage increase from $11/hour to $15/hour

 

Wages

Arielle’s wage doesn’t even match the rate of social assistance, yet she has more responsibilities in the organization than any other employee ever has. When Tim did this position he had less administrative responsibilities and the help of four experienced editors. Arielle’s job portfolio has taken on more administrative work and she has not had the same kind of volunteer support that Tim had to help with the position. This has made the position untenable for her to continue unless she is given a higher hourly wage. As it is, she cannot afford to continue doing this job which takes up all of her time yet pays so little to the point that she is forced to rely on her savings every month. While she is doing the bulk of the administrative work for this organization and often working more hours than she is paid, she doesn’t even have the time to pursue a secondary income outside of this position to financially survive. This makes the current wage and work load unsustainable to the point that she cannot continue with it unless her wage is increased. She states that she recognizes this is a difficult thing to do at this point given the special issue costs and the lack of money we have at this point.

Roddy states that the organization should have a long term goal of providing decent wages to its employees, but that right now we don’t have the money to do so.

Ashley points out that we currently have enough money to not only pay all the special issue payments, but also to immediately implement a higher wage for Arielle.

Roddy concedes that if there is a clear number on the table he would know what to fundraise for each month and that yes it is doable but that there are barriers to finding that money.

Ashley puts forward a motion to increase Arielle’s wage to $15 per hour after the special issue payments have been dispensed.

Darryl seconds it.

Geordie points out that while he will support this motion he prefers that a formal process be followed for future proposals, including that financially based proposals such as this be sent to the board two weeks ahead of time so that the board can look at the numbers and decide if it makes sense.

Arielle states that she is uncomfortable with the motion and that she wants to hold off on a pay raise until after the special issue payments have been disbursed.

Time for the meeting has gone over and the issue gets tabled.

 

Tabled for next meeting:

Discussion on Arielle’s pay wage

Planning the AGM

MARG Conference and Caroline leaving

 

 

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