With a strike authorization vote now underway in British Columbia among members of the Directors Guild of Canada, the AMPTP and the Canadian Media Producers Association are warning that labor instability in the region could force producers to think twice about filming there.
The two employer groups, which have been bargaining with the union for more than a year, said in a joint statement on Wednesday that “The DGC BC’s strike authorization vote sends a message of labour uncertainty in the province and seriously jeopardizes British Columbia’s reputation as an attractive location for motion picture production. Considering the potential for labor instability in British Columbia, companies represented by the AMPTP and CMPA may be forced to re-evaluate their plans for basing new productions in the province.”
The guild, whose current contract expired on March 31, 2021, is asking for a “strike mandate” from its 1,700 members that would authorize a strike if the companies won’t budge from their current bargaining position. That vote concludes on Thursday and is expected to be overwhelmingly approved, although a strike, if it comes to that, could still be weeks away.
The guild, saying that it’s reached an “impasse” with the companies at the bargaining table, maintains that its done “everything in its power – using every tool available – to get a fair deal. The only option now is to seek a strike mandate.”
The DGC BC says it’s “fighting for respect, fairness and safety for those working under its collective agreement, especially the people in the lowest paid and most vulnerable positions, which includes those from diverse and underrepresented groups in the industry.”
The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, which represents the major U.S. companies, and the CMPA, a trade association for independent producers, say that they have “carefully considered the Guild’s key priorities and offered a comprehensive proposal to address those demands, including across-the-board wage increases, outsized increases for the lowest-paid classifications, outsized wage increases for Location Managers, the creation of a new and higher-paid Key Background Coordinator classification and increased benefits for members working on certain high budget SVOD productions including residual payments for Directors. This generous offer contains no ‘rollbacks’ or reductions in benefits.”
Last May, after the companies told the guild that they would not be available for bargaining for three months, the guild applied for mediation at the Canadian Labour Relations Board, which appointed a mediator who met and received submissions from both sides, and issued recommendations for settlement on August 6.
“The mediator’s recommendations required compromise from both sides,” the guild said. “The DGC BC agreed to the mediator’s recommendations in order to conclude an agreement. The Negotiating Producers rejected the mediator’s recommendations and continued to seek further concessions. The DGC BC held strong. The Negotiating Producers’ most recent offer contains clawbacks from both the mediator’s recommendations and their prior offer. The DGC BC countered that offer; the Negotiating Producers rejected the counter without discussion. The parties are at an impasse.”
The AMPTP and the CMPA, however, maintain that following that mediation, the guild “indicated that it would accept the recommendations proposed by the Chair of the Labour Relations Board. In follow up discussions, there remained one point of difference between the parties. The DGC BC requested a ‘trade’ of issues and the Producers agreed to that trade in an effort to close out negotiations. After being so close to reaching an agreement, the DGC BC then made additional demands and the opportunity for settlement evaporated. Now, the Guild is asking its members to authorize the calling of a strike, based on demands that were not part of the mediator’s recommendations.”