VDC Dance Centre Society c IATSE 118 2023, date of decision December 11 2023

In VDC Dance Centre Society, 2023 BCLRB 190, the BC Labour Relations Board granted IATSE Local 118’s certification application for a bargaining unit of stage technical employees employed by VDC, a resource centre for dance professionals and the public. In certifying the union, the Board rejected VDC’s arguments resisting certification: inter alia, that the technical stage workers were independent contractors; that the true employer was the owner of the premise and not VDC; and that the technicians had no continuing interest in union representation because their work was sporadic and casual.

Much of VDC’s arguments against certification stemmed from the fact that the technicians were casual employees who worked infrequent and limited hours, and who also worked for other employers. The Board, however, found that its analysis must be informed by the nature of the industry and the nature of the work – i.e. stage technician work. The Board found that in the theatre industry, most technical/technician jobs are casual, with most workers moving from project to project, working on more than one show at a time. These factors, put in proper context, do not mean that stage technicians do not need the protection of collective bargaining. In fact, the factors may suggest the contrary – that workers do need collective bargaining, and that the Board should facilitate it.

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