Quebec unions resume talks

AQTIS and IATSE are back at the bargaining table, working on a more permanent solution to their ongoing turf war over Quebec's film technicians

MONTREAL — Quebec’s feuding technicians unions, which reached a temporary standoff last month to attract America summer shoots to la belle province, are back in talks to hammer out a final agreement that could be months in the making.

‘It could take until the end of the summer. And then legislative changes will be needed to finally resolve the issues after that,’ cautions AQTIS spokeswoman Brunhilde Pradier. Talks got underway last week.

Quebec’s AQTIS and U.S.-based IATSE have been involved in a protracted battle over which has the right to represent Quebec film technicians that had scared many large shoots away from the province. Provincial government negotiator Gilles Charland stepped in last month and brokered a temporary agreement under which IATSE netted the rights to rep workers on five big-budget productions en route to Montreal: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Mummy 3, Death Race 3000, The Pink Panther 2 and Whiteout. AQTIS got only one, Dead Zone.

Charland is sitting down with both sides once again, and the first issue on the table is how to deal with other American productions en route to Montreal this summer, says Pradier. ‘We have to come up with a fast-track method to work out who has jurisdiction while the long-term agreement is being worked out.’

AQTIS claims it has the exclusive right to represent technicians under Quebec’s law governing the status of artists. But IATSE disputes this claim under the Quebec labor code. As a result, legislative change is the key to working out the conflict, says Pradier. ‘The laws must be changed so there isn’t confusion.’

IATSE representatives were unavailable for comment.