TORONTO — A feud is brewing as the Teamsters look to take over representation of about 500 transportation workers on film and TV sets in the Toronto area.
Set drivers there traditionally have been repped by IATSE and NABET, which cover production technical workers; the function historically was too small for the Teamsters to bother with, principal officer of Local 847 in Toronto Gil Davis told Daily Variety. But explosive production growth in the city the past five years, coupled with complaints from IATSE drivers who Teamsters say have “a substandard wage and benefit labor contract,” have whetted Teamsters’ appetite for taking over.
“Close to 500 people are permanently employed in the transportation (for filmmaking), and that makes a viable amount of people for the Teamsters to run a successful local union,” Davis said.
The Teamsters are hoping IATSE and NABET will surrender the jurisdiction. IATSE has rejected Teamsters’ overtures in no uncertain terms. “At no time have I or will I ever authorize the release of the Transportation Dept. of IATSE Local 873 to the Teamsters or any other union,” IATSE international prexy Thomas Short wrote in a letter to Mimi Wolch, business agent for IATSE Local 873 in Toronto. “If this unwarranted and vicious raid of our historical jurisdiction continues, we will file the appropriate charges with the Canadian Labour Congress and seek retribution by issuing IATSE Transportation charters throughout the United States and Canada.”
“If he legitimately means what he says,” Davis responded, “here is a union that represents 55,000 or 60,000 people picking a war with a union that represents 1.5 million people.” He said the conflict could lead to “labor unrest in the movie industry, mainly in the U.S.”