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Quebec pic union, IA suspend talks

Represention of film technicians at issue

MONTREAL — Negotiations between the Quebec film technicians union and the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have been suspended. The two film unions have been in talks over who should be allowed to represent technicians working on film shoots in Quebec.

The bitter fight between the two unions has virtually shut down Hollywood film shooting here. There has not been a single major American film production in Quebec so far this year.

Celine Daignault, interim president of AQTIS (Alliance Quebecoise des Techniciens de l’Image et du Son), said the Quebec film union’s board of directors decided Thursday to break off talks with IATSE because the two sides were too far apart.

The Quebec union notified Francis Fox, the Quebec government-appointed mediator, on Friday morning that it was suspending negotiations with IATSE.

Even though the union dispute is far from settled, however, it is expected that Paramount pic “The Spiderwick Chronicles” will be shooting in Montreal this summer, which would give a major boost to the film production milieu. But it is not known if the pic would work with AQTIS or IATSE.

AQTIS has called a special meeting of its members for Thursday to decide what to do next.

“We’re having trouble with the negotiation process, and there’s a difference of opinion on one point,” said Daignault.

Until recently, AQTIS had the Quebec film scene to itself. But IATSE began signing up Quebec film technicians last year and now represents between 800 and 1,000 Quebec technicians.

The Quebec union has been aggressively trying to keep IATSE out of the film biz in Quebec, arguing that is illegal for IATSE to operate in the province because of Quebec’s Law on the Status of the Artist. This opinion is not shared by IATSE.

But it is unclear how AQTIS members feel about their union’s opposition to IATSE. Most of the technicians who have signed with IATSE also remain members of AQTIS, and there is plenty of discontent among members with the Quebec union.

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