|Original News Release|
On Nov. 18, 2003 the minister of skills development and labour appointed a one-person industrial inquiry commission to study how the B .C. film and television industry is structured and functions. The commission was to address labour issues which seem to be hindering the administration of five collective agreements in the industry, the industry’s competitiveness with other jurisdictions and its current and projected growth.
Recommendations to the industry:
The commission states that its most important recommendation is that changes to the seniority dispatch systems of Teamsters local 155 and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees & Allied Crafts of the United States and Canada (IATSE 891) be made to allow production companies to request specific crew members by name.
Currently, production companies may request crew members by name. However, the teamsters union often over-rides the company’s choice through its seniority lists. British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in North America that handles hiring in this manner.
Grievances and Jurisdictional Issues:
The B.C. Council of Film Unions, created in 1995, is comprised of three trade unions – IATSE 669 and 891 and Teamsters Union 155. Two other unions – the Director’s Guild of Canada (DGC) and the Union of B.C. Performers (UBCP) are not affiliated with the council.
An unusually high number of grievances are filed in B.C. relative to the size of the industry. At the time of the review, 45 grievances were outstanding.
Tysoe notes that the DGC has not filed grievances and that recent changes in the UBCP are expected to reduce the number of grievances involving that union.
The commission recommends that grievances should be pursued via the following process:
· The council should obtain an independent assessment of a grievance;
· The grievance or any jurisdictional disputes between council members should be resolved internally first and should only proceed to arbitration if two out of the three unions agree;
· The cost of taking legal action against a grievance should be borne by the council.
Three Strike Rule:
Existing collective agreements allow an employer to refuse to hire an employee who has been previously discharged for cause. However, in the film industry, each production is a new employer. Union seniority rules mean a producer may be forced to take on an employee he or she has previously dismissed from another production.
Tysoe recommends a “three strike” rule where any film employer could refuse to hire an employee with a record of three discharges for cause.
Separate Master Agreement:
When the B.C. Council of Film Unions was formed in 1995, it was anticipated that a separate master collective agreement would be negotiated to cover lower budget productions.
This has not happened. As a result, each lower-budget production must negotiate separate “enabling agreements” under the master collective agreement.
Tysoe recommends that the council comply with a Labour Relations Board request that they negotiate a separate master agreement with the Canadian Film & T.V. Production Association and the Alliance of Motion Picture & T.V. Producers to cover lower budget productions.
Priority of Collective Agreements:
There have been a number of cases where unions have claimed that their rules supersede the collective agreement. For example, even though the agreement allows a producer to hire drivers by name, the teamsters union has claimed that its rules allow a member with more seniority to “bump” the person the producer wants.
Tysoe recommends that all parties explicitly acknowledge that the provisions of their agreements are paramount and take priority over internal rules and policies.