DGC BC members authorize strike with ‘overwhelming’ majority

The vote, which closed Thursday (April 7), resulted in more than 92% of voting members in favour of a strike mandate, with DGC BC stating its goal is to return to the negotiating table.

A n “overwhelming” majority of members of the Directors Guild of Canada’s B.C. District Council have voted in favour of a strike mandate following the guild’s first-ever strike vote.

More than 92% of voters, which encompassed 86.2% of eligible voters, said yes to a strike mandate following the collapse of negotiations between DGC BC and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA).

“We thank our members for the solidarity they have shown with this overwhelming mandate. Their strength and resolve make it clear that respect, fairness and safety in the workplace are non-negotiable,” said Allan Harmon, district council chairman, DGC BC, in a statement. “We are fighting to achieve and maintain fundamental rights for everyone working under our collective agreement.”

DGC BC executive director Kendrie Upton said that the goal “is to reach a fair agreement” and go back to the negotiating table with the CMPA and AMPTP. The CMPA has not responded to a request for comment as of press time.

“Our BC membership has spoken with a clear voice for themselves, and for those members and permittees in our lowest paid and most vulnerable positions. I cannot express how proud I am to hold shoulder-to-shoulder beside them, now, for respect, fairness and safety… from coast-to-coast-to-coast, the DGC is united behind them,” added DGC National president Warren P. Sonoda.

The parties have been without a collective agreement since the previous one expired on March 31, 2021. Among the core issues, according to DGC BC, are wage increases for lower-paid positions, payment terms for COVID testing, retroactive wage increases and employer clawbacks.

The producer associations released a joint statement on Wednesday (April 6) that a strike authorization vote would send “a message of labour uncertainty in the province” and could potentially force production companies to “re-evaluate their plans for basing new productions in the province.”

Both parties have provided conflicting accounts on the breakdown of negotiations. The CMPA and AMPTP stated, following mediation with the BC Labour Relations Board, DGC BC “made additional demands and the opportunity for settlement evaporated.” In a statement to Playback Daily, DGC BC said “negotiating producers have mischaracterized the negotiations and proposals, which highlights the difficulties we have had in this year-long round of bargaining.”

The DGC BC says a strike vote does not authorize those working under the DGC BC agreement to take immediate job action. Rather, it gives the negotiating team a strong mandate and empowers it to serve strike notice if the negotiating producers refuse to respond to members’ concerns. Should the guild choose to issue strike notice, it will tell its members as well as employers and the BC Labour Board.

The DGC BC tells Playback Daily there are no negotiating sessions currently scheduled. DGC BC can issue a 72-hour strike notice anytime within the next three months but its goal is and remains to get an agreement, says the guild.

The DGC BC says film productions in the province have protection during collective bargaining and from job action, because the BC Labour Board has mandated that the negotiating producers and unions enter into safe harbour agreements. It says productions are protected from labour disruption if they sign a safe harbour agreement prior to strike notice being issued, and comply with its terms.

With files from Victoria Ahearn

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