AMPTP and CMPA warn of implications if DGC BC’s strike vote goes through

The AMPTP and CMPA say the directors guild's vote, which closes Thursday, "sends a message of labour uncertainty in the province."

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) have issued a stern message about the Directors Guild of Canada’s B.C. District Council (DGC BC) call for a vote in favour of a strike mandate.

In a joint statement, the AMPTP and CMPA say the strike authorization vote “sends a message of labour uncertainty in the province and seriously jeopardizes British Columbia’s reputation as an attractive location for motion picture production.”

The statement issued Wednesday evening (April 6) added: “Considering the potential for labour instability in British Columbia, companies represented by the AMPTP and CMPA may be forced to re-evaluate their plans for basing new productions in the province.”

On Monday (April 4), DGC BC issued a news release saying it was calling for its members to vote in favour of a strike mandate after year-long negotiations with the bargaining representatives of the producers — the AMPTP and the CMPA — had broken off. Voting for the strike mandate began Wednesday and closes at 5 p.m. PT today (Thursday).

The creative and logistical personnel who make up the DGC BC membership have been without a collective agreement for a year, after the last one expired on March 31, 2021. The DGC BC has been negotiating with the AMPTP and the CMPA’s BC Producers Branch (CMPA – BC) for a new three-year collective bargaining agreement covering the categories of director, second unit director, production and unit manager, plus those employed in the various assistant director and locations departments.

According to the DGC BC, the main issues in the bargaining talks include payment terms for COVID testing and employer clawbacks to the current collective agreement. The DGC BC said it also wants to ensure that as minimum wage increases, all wage rates of lower-paid positions do as well, and that there’s a retroactivity of wage increases to the expiry of the last collective agreement.

But the AMPTP and CMPA statement disputes some of that, noting “the producers carefully considered the guild’s key priorities and offered a comprehensive proposal to address those demands.”

The proposal “contains no ‘rollbacks’ or reductions in benefits” and included “across-the-board wage increases, outsized increases for the lowest-paid classifications, outsized wage increases for location managers, the creation of a new and higher-paid key background coordinator classification and increased benefits for members working on certain high budget SVOD productions including residual payments for directors,” said the statement.

The AMPTP and CMPA statement added that following BC Labour Relations Board-assisted mediation, the DGC BC “indicated that it would accept the recommendations proposed by the chair of the Labour Relations Board.”

“In follow-up discussions, there remained one point of difference between the parties. The DGC BC requested a ‘trade’ of issues and the producers agreed to that trade in an effort to close out negotiations,” said the statement. “After being so close to reaching an agreement, the DGC BC then made additional demands and the opportunity for settlement evaporated. Now, the guild is asking its members to authorize the calling of a strike, based on demands that were not part of the mediator’s recommendations.”

The DGC BC issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying “there are numerous inaccuracies in the AMPTP and CMPA joint statement” and that “the negotiating producers have mischaracterized the negotiations and proposals, which highlights the difficulties we have had in this year-long round of bargaining.”

“Their statement also does not reference all the clawbacks they are seeking in their last offer,” said DGC BC. “We’re simply fighting for respect, fairness and safety for our members, especially the lowest paid and most vulnerable. We are not asking the negotiating producers for anything that they haven’t given to others.”

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