Contract discussions have stalled, and the BC has issued a 72-hour strike notice, the next and possibly final step before the guild has launched a work stoppage in British Columbia. Without a last minute settlement, a work stoppage might happen anytime.
The latest move comes after the guild's members were consulted. Negotiations with the Canadian Media Producers Association and the Association had lasted for over a year.
If it comes to that, a strike would be the first in DGC BC's history, although most films and television shows currently shooting in British Columbia would not be affected because they are protected by safety harbor agreements. In 2008 the BC Labor Board approved safe harbor agreements for the industry to ensure labor stability during collective bargaining. Any production that has signed, and complies with the terms of a safe harbor agreement is protected from a labor action.
According to Creative BC, the British Columbia film commission, about 30 projects are currently underway, including: Parallel Forest and Pinky; TV series The Flash, The Good Doctor, Charmed, Snowpiercer, Riverdale, Superman & Lois, A Million Little Things, and The Nanny; and miniseries The Fall of the House of Usher and Shogun.
The act would not stop filming elsewhere in Canada, according to a strike. Directors and their crews are represented by a different district council in Toronto, which has its own separate contracts, and which is not threatening a work stoppage.
If last-ditch negotiations failed to reach a fair agreement, DGC BC members voted 92.2%. After that, the union demanded that they meet with employers in an attempt to resolve the issue. No progress was made, the guild said.
We met with the Negotiating Producers, said Allan Harmon, the district council chair of DGC BC. In light of the overwhelming support for a strike mandate, we had anticipated them to address the key issues that we have among our members. They did not. Their refusal to address these questions has left us with no other choice than to issue a strike notice.
The guild said that the strike notice signifies that "72 hours after the strike notice was received, any production that is not covered by a safe harbor agreement may be subjected to labor action. There can be no new safe harbor agreements. Productions with existing safe harbor agreements will be protected from any labor action."
We want labor stability, but we need a compromise that allows respect, fairness, and safety for everyone who works under our contract, said DGC BC's executive director. We care about this industry. We have always been willing to negotiate. The employers must do their part and work with us to reach an acceptable agreement.
According to the guild, the main issues that remain unanswered are:
- Minimum wage differentials: as minimum wage increases, so should all wage rates of lower-paid positions.
- Payment terms for Covid testing.
- Retroactivity of wage increases to the expiry of the last collective agreement.
- The Negotiating Producers demands for further concessions
The guild claims that these issues "have an impact on the least qualified and most vulnerable individuals."