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

Is Halifax Pride taking sides in labour dispute?

Egg Studios locked out IATSE workers, produces Pride video

by Rebecca Rose

The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour contingent at Halifax Pride 2014. A video produced by union-hating Egg Films has union members and sympathizers very upset.  Halifax Pride and Labour have a shared history going back to the eighties, when the parade was still a march. Photo Tony Tracy
The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour contingent at Halifax Pride 2014. A video produced by union-hating Egg Films has union members and sympathizers very upset. Halifax Pride and Labour have a shared history going back to the eighties, when the parade was still a march. Photo Tony Tracy

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) - On Wednesday June 17 Pride Halifax launched a shiny new video promoting the 2015 festival. One day later Pride found itself smack dab in the middle of one of the region’s most heated labour disputes.

That Thursday, several members of the LGBTQIA+ community took to Halifax Pride’s Facebook page to express their disappointment and disgust that Pride was working with Egg Studios.

In March Egg Studios locked out 290 freelance film technicians, members of IATSE Local 849 after failing to reach a second collective agreement.

“The reality is that by using this video, they are explicitly taking a position in the labour dispute in favour of the employer,” says Kyle Buott, the queer President of the Halifax Dartmouth and District Labour Council (HDDLC).

IATSE 849’s Business Manager Gary Vermeir says that the labour movement has been allies of the LGBTQIA+ community and Pride for years. “So, we thought we were all kind of singing from the same hymn-book.”

Pride was unaware of the lockout prior to last Thursday. During their first meeting with Egg (which Pride initiated) Sara Thomas, Egg’s President and Executive Producer, didn’t mention the labour dispute. Thomas says that while Pride covered the “hard costs” of the video, Egg donated their creative services.

Halifax Pride discussed the conflict at a Board meeting Thursday night but “it’s not something we can just decide in a 20 minute discussion”, says Halifax Pride Chair Willem Blois.

“We realized we don’t have a policy to address this specific issue or to lead us through this. So we need some time to think about what our position is and also just to gather more facts,” says Blois.

Blois wants to talk to the individuals who posted to the Facebook page, Egg and IATSE and make a decision about how to proceed this week. A day after the criticisms surfaced, full-time Egg employees, friends and relatives of Egg’s CEO also took to Pride’s Facebook page to defend the company.

In 2011 IATSE 849, which represents film technicians throughout Atlantic Canada, filed for a certification on the set of an Egg Studios commercial. The certification specifically related to freelance technicians, who Egg argued were independent contractors not employees. (Egg’s 20 full-time staff are not unionized.)

Egg was the first company to fall under Nova Scotia’s first contract arbitration legislation, and operated under an arbitrator-enforced Collective Agreement for one year.

That year was “hell”, says Thomas. Egg fought the certification hard, from the Nova Scotia Labour Board all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

That's where their case was dismissed with costs granted to IATSE.

Local 849’s core asks include health, dental and retirement contributions as well as workers compensation and employment insurance coverage.

Thomas believes it's a matter of principle.

“This is about the forced occupation of a company when the company doesn’t want the union bullies involved in our business and the crew doesn’t want the union bullies involved in their business,” she says.

Thomas claims that the concerns and criticisms posted to Pride’s Facebook page amount to bullying.

She also touts Egg’s work with groups such as the Red Cross, Bell Let’s Talk and the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. Egg is also a big supporter of Pride, says Thomas, though this is their first year officially being involved.

IATSE 849’s Vice President and Chair of the Local’s Pride Committee, Katt Evans, coordinated the Local’s first entry in the Halifax Pride Parade, which consisted of her and her partner in a decorated Kia Soul.

Evans, who identifies as “as gay as the day is long”, wants Pride to reconsider their partnership with Egg. “Because of it being a union-strong parade, not just because of 849. It is because 849 is in a dispute with Egg, but there’s the simple fact that a lot of unions support Pride and for Pride to [use] somebody who is unfriendly towards unions and in a lockout dispute, that’s just wrong.”

Last year over 50 people from at least 10 unions and labour councils (including IATSE) marched in the the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour’s contingent .

The relationship between Labour and Pride has existed informally for at least 40 years, both here in Nova Scotia as well as Canada-wide, Buott adds.

“It’s about solidarity at the end of the day,” he says.

See also: Fighting the union tooth and nail

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


Socialize:
Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
Topics: ArtsLabour
728 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!