Halifax, NS – October 2, 2012 – Motion picture technicians in Nova Scotia have had their rights to unionize upheld by a Nova Scotia Labour Board (NSLB) decision issued last week.
The NSRB decision to certify a union bargaining unit at Egg Films, the region’s largest producer of television commercials, comes 15 months after IATSE members cast their ballots in a certification vote.
“The crew who voted had the courage to say that a film set is a film set, whether the producer is shooting a feature film, a sitcom or a TV commercial,” says Gary Mitchell, president of Local 849. “If they are doing identical work, they deserve to have the same protections for their families and themselves.”
In its decision, the NSRB deliberated several keys points – whether film crew can be considered employees, whether the production of television commercials is a substantially different industry than the production of other motion pictures, whether the union’s attempt to certify a one-day shoot was legitimate, whether adequate notice of the vote was provided and whether the bargaining unit applied for by Local 849 was appropriate.
In a 58 page decision delivered April 3, 2012, the NSLB backed up the union’s requests on all points. A subsequent 36 page decision delivered September 21, 2012, confirmed that the bargaining unit applied for was appropriate and that a second certification vote would not be ordered. This then permitted the ballots, which had been cast on March 16, 2011, to be counted by the Department of Labour on September 27th. The vote was unanimous in favour of the union.
The NSLB determined that casual or non-permanent workers, such as film crew who may work for multiple employers each year, have the constitutional right to organize their workplaces for the purposes of collective bargaining.
“This certification is not about wages,” says Gary Vermeir, Business Agent of Local 849. “It’s about ensuring that film technicians are treated as employees by this production company – so that they have the protection of Workers Compensation coverage, Employment Insurance, CPP and the medical coverage the union provides for them and their families. These protections are standard in the motion picture industry and the production of television commercials is part of the motion picture industry.”
“We look forward to bargaining a collective agreement that benefits both Egg Films and the members of Local 849. It is in our best interests for Egg to remain a healthy, profitable employer of our members.”
Local 849 of the IATSE represents 420 motion picture technicians throughout Atlantic Canada.