Halifax Media Co-op

News from Nova Scotia's Grassroots

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!
Advertisement

Fighting the union tooth and nail

Egg Films locks out 290 technicians

by Robert Devet

In 2013 Sara Thomas, co-owner of Egg Studios, told reporters that unionization would drive the company out of Nova Scotia. Unionization happened anyways, and the company is still here. It just locked out 290 technicians. Photo facebook
In 2013 Sara Thomas, co-owner of Egg Studios, told reporters that unionization would drive the company out of Nova Scotia. Unionization happened anyways, and the company is still here. It just locked out 290 technicians. Photo facebook

(KJIPUKTUK) HALIFAX - Earlier this month Egg Films, the largest local producer of television commercials, locked out 290 unionized freelance film technicians after failing to reach a second collective agreement.

The workers are members of Local 849 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). They are the people who are involved with the logistics on film sets, from transportation to lighting to makeup.

“We weren't out to punish them of destroy their company,” Gary Vermeir, business agent for the Local, tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“We were trying to make sure that when our workers worked (for Egg Films) they were covered by Workers' Comp, that they would be able to file for Employment Insurance if they needed to, and that somebody was making some contributions to their health and retirement plans,” he says.

To say that the owners of Egg Films, Sara Thomas and Mike Hachey, don't like unions is an understatement.

They fought the Local 849 union certification at the Labour Board, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, and the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

In September Egg Films ran out of options when the Supreme Court of Canada tossed out its final appeal.

At one time co-owner Sara Thomas threatened to just leave the province if unionization efforts wouldn't go away.

“Why would anyone want to do business here?” she asked Coast reporter Jacob Boone in 2013.

They're still here.

Collective bargaining has been exceptionally difficult, says Vermeir.

Egg's recent proposals removed all the conditions that were in the existing collective agreement and excluded the union from many of the spots that its members would be shooting, he says.

Earlier this month co-owner Mike Hachey told the Chronicle Herald that Egg Films walked away from negotiations because it has to remain competitive with Toronto companies.

Nonsense, says Vermeir.

“We work with low budget producers in the film world all the time, and we negotiate individual deals that are suitable for the budget and help support those smaller producers,” Vermeir explains.

“We made the same offer and Egg never took us up on it,” he says.

For Vermeir the current conflict speaks to larger issues.

“We are simply reiterating the rights of any Canadian worker to collective bargaining and to belong to a union,” he says. “Regardless of whether they are a permanent employee of a company or whether they are contractors who deal with many employers over the course of a year.”

The union has countered the lock out by filing an Unfair Labour Practice complaint against the company.

IATSE has also declared Egg Films an unfair employer, meaning any IATSE member anywhere in North America is barred from working for the company.

That means that Egg Films will not be able to use unionized camera men.

That has to hurt, since having access to the best cinematographers to shoot their commercials is part and parcel of Egg's business, Vermeir explains.

Follow the campaign of the locked out workers of IATSE Local 849 on Facebook

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter

 

 


Socialize:
Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
Topics: Labour
498 words

Advertisement

User login


Google+
Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!