MONTREAL, March 6. – The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada AFL-CIO, CLC has been forced by all the misinformation swirling in Montreal to set the record straight regarding the film Jumper and the producing company’s relocation of production to Toronto.
But first, the IATSE wishes to make it clear that it is a Canadian union. Thirteen percent of its 105,000 members live, work, pay taxes and vote in Canada. Thirteen percent of the IATSE would take umbrage at being called “an American organization.” The IATSE has been part of the Canadian entertainment industry for over one hundred years and sees no reason to leave the Province of Quebec.
The IATSE wants to bring more work to Quebec, which is why it must ask did Jumper jump or was it pushed? Why isn’t Jumper filming in Montreal?
For that answer, we turn to the Quebec 800.
Almost 800 working people in the Quebec film industry have joined the IATSE within the last five months in the hope affiliation with the IATSE can bring more film work to Quebec. The Quebec 800 want the IATSE to negotiate a solid collective agreement with employers that contains superior wages, working conditions, health benefits and retirement plans. Unlike members of Alliance québécoise des techniciens de l’image et du son (AQTIS), who typically individually negotiate terms and conditions of employment, the Quebec 800 want a strong union to collectively negotiate terms and conditions on their behalf, just as the IATSE does for entertainment workers in the rest of Canada.
It has been said that no producer wants his project to be “embroiled in an inter-union dispute” in Montreal. The IATSE agrees with that statement, which is why the IATSE earlier this year suggested that the IATSE and AQTIS sign a letter that would have ensured that Jumper would have shot in Montreal, even under an AQTIS agreement.
AQTIS refused to sign the agreement. AQTIS was unprepared to agree that it would not sue or file grievances against the produces of Jumper if they worked under an IATSE agreement. One more point: the IATSE, in writing, declared that it would do nothing to prevent Jumper being shot in Montreal under an AQTIS agreement.
So, did Jumper jump or was it pushed?
The producers were pushed and AQTIS did the pushing. Now it is clear that producers wanted to use an IA crew but were not willing to face lawsuits and grievances filed by AQTIS. They were pushed by AQTIS to locate in Toronto in order to work with IATSE crews, under an IATSE agreement that costs the producers more than shooting in Montreal would have cost.
The Quebec 800 have looked to the IATSE to stem the tide of falling U.S.-based film production in Quebec, which has declined in each of the last three years and may now, thanks to AQTIS, be in a free fall.
AQTIS should re-read the Status of the Artist Act, which only protects and regulates 16 artist categories when artists work as independent contractors, not as employees under collectively bargained agreements.
The leadership of AQTIS should also make note, as its members have, that they have failed to operate in an open manner. AQTIS has failed to call an election to elect a president and continues to operate under an interim president without any accountability to the members.
The IATSE calls upon the leadership of AQTIS to openly and honestly act in the best interests of the industry. Allow producers to work in Quebec without the threat of legal action. Until that happens, the working people of the film industry in Quebec will continue to suffer.