The Directors Guild of Canada, the BC District Council, is threatening to strike for the first time against the film and TV industry, after years of negotiations with employers broke down because the parties failed to reach a new agreement. A strike would effectively shut down production across British Columbia.
The Guild, whose current contract expires on March 31, 2021, is seeking a “strike mandate” from its 1,700 members that would allow companies to strike if they do not withdraw from their current bargaining position. That vote will begin on Wednesday and end on Thursday.
The Guild, which says it has reached a “stalemate” with the companies, maintains that it has “done everything in its power – using every available tool -” to get a fair deal. The only option now is to order a strike. “
“For the first time in our history, the DGC BC is urging its members to vote for the strike,” said Alan Harmon, chairman of the DGC BC’s district council. “We’ve been bidding in good faith for a whole year, but the employers’ bidding team is unwilling to get involved in our most important issues and continues to demand more callbacks throughout the process. Despite their willingness to compromise on important issues, they continue to remove goalposts, making it impossible for our people to get a fair deal. ”
The Guild represents not only the managers, but also the director of the second unit, the production and unit manager, and the various assistant directors and persons assigned to the position department, as well as the entry-level production assistants.
The employers are represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Canadian Media Producers Association, a trade association for independent producers.
The DGC BC said it was “fighting for respect, fairness and protection for those working under its collective agreement, especially those in the lowest paid and most vulnerable positions, including the various and under-represented groups in the industry.”
The Guild says the main problems are:
- Minimum Wage Difference: As the minimum wage increases, so will the wage rate for lower paid positions. If the negotiating producers do not agree to a specific difference in position, after the expiration of this contract, experienced members outside the entry level can create a minimum wage. This is unacceptable. We need to protect those in the most vulnerable positions at the bottom of the pay scale.
- Terms of payment for Covid test: In the middle of the bargaining, the bargaining producers arbitrarily and unilaterally applied the terms related to Covid which were contrary to the terms of our joint agreement and the terms were being negotiated in the bargain.
- Return of wages for expiration of our last contract: In the last two years, the negotiating unions with which the producers have reached a joint agreement have been given precedence. Lack of recurrence means lower wage growth in the first year.
- Producer Clubbacks: The negotiating producers are currently trying to snatch the benefits of the tough fight in the DGC BC joint venture.
“It’s incredibly confusing and frustrating that the same studios and production companies that are actively working to diversify the workforce and attract people from under-represented groups are fighting for fair wages and treatment for our entry-level workers at the same time.” This is where the entrants to the new industry begin, “said Kendri Upton, executive director of DGC BC.
The Guild says they do not want something that companies have not already offered to others in the film industry. The companies, it says, “reluctant to address this legitimate concern, the DGC informed the BC that it is not ready to enjoy the changes now made in other unions, especially in the United States IATSE.”
“Negotiating producers, for example, have given retroactivity to every union that has decided to bargain with them in the last two years. They have refused to agree with the DGC BC. “
Last May, when the companies told the Guild that they would not be available for bargaining for three months, the Guild applied for mediation to the Canadian Labor Relations Board, which hired a mediator who met and accepted submissions from both parties and issued a recommendation. August 8.
“The mediator’s recommendation requires compromise on both sides,” the guild said. “The DGC BC has agreed to a mediation recommendation to terminate an agreement. The negotiating producers rejected the mediator’s recommendation and continued to seek further concessions. Keep DGC BC strong.
“Negotiating producers’ recent offers have both the mediator’s recommendation and their previous proposals close. DGC BC reversed that offer; The negotiating producers have rejected the counter without discussion. The parties are at a standstill. ”