UNEQ backtracks on contributions

Under pressure for two weeks, the Union of Writers and Writers (UNEQ) finally reconsidered its decision and will convene a new general meeting to determine the contributions that the authors will have to pay to it. The UNEQ had aroused the ire by granting itself a union dues of 2.5% on the income of its members and 5% on those of its non-members.

These amounts were set in June at the annual general meeting, in which only 46 people participated by videoconference. The UNEQ had announced the result of the vote to its 1600 members only in December, which earned it a number of criticisms in the literary world in recent days, in particular from several well-known authors.

Several accused the UNEQ of lacking transparency and questioned the legitimacy of this vote. Others criticized the UNEQ for imposing twice as high a fee on non-member authors, when the latter had not even been invited to the general assembly. The writers’ union has always defended itself by asserting that all members had been invited to participate in the meeting and that the content of the meeting had been made public beforehand.

However, this is where the shoe pinches. As reported The duty in its pages Thursday morning, the members never knew that a vote on the thorny question of dues was going to be held during this general meeting. The word “dues” does not appear in the email invitation or in the agenda.

In a letter sent to its members late Wednesday evening, the UNEQ said it had taken note of it after being made aware of it last week by one of its members. The union maintains that this situation is explained by the fact that the reform on the status of the artist, which gives it the right to impose a contribution on all authors in Quebec, had not yet been adopted the National Assembly when the invitation was sent to its members at the end of May. But after a review with its legal adviser, the UNEQ says it has come to the conclusion that this is a procedural error.

“I recognize that this procedural error justifies the holding of a new general meeting, during which a new vote will be taken on union dues. I sincerely apologize to those members who participated in good faith in [l’assemblée générale annuelle] of June 20. If it hadn’t been for this procedural error, their vote would have been valid and fully in accordance with our statutes and regulations,” writes President Suzanne Aubry.

The terms of the new general meeting will be set on January 17, during the meeting of the board of directors. Even if the issue of dues affects all authors in Quebec, members and non-members alike, the new general assembly will once again be reserved for those who have been members of the UNEQ for more than 30 days. That said, « given the current context and for the sake of transparency and participatory democracy, the meeting will be scheduled on a date that will allow those who wish to become a member and obtain the right to vote », undertakes the UNEQ.

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