Thesp union, producers at odds in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — In response to an application by the producers of “Wrongfully Accused” and the dramatic TV series “Sleepwalkers,” the British Columbia Labor Relations Board issued an interim order Thursday that the Union of B.C. Performers rescind a bulletin to its members that called for them to reject work on non-union film or TV sets.

“This is another in a series of violations of the fundamental rights of union workers by what is supposed to be a pro-labor government,” said outraged union president Peter Partridge. “It’s stripping the actors of their rights and putting them in the position of being offered up to Hollywood on a non-union casting couch.”

The provincially governed LRB ordered the union and the two production companies back to the bargaining table, to come up with a collective agreement by Aug. 25. In the meantime, talent agents are required to notify actors of auditions. Whether or not they book their clients without a collective agreement is another matter, according to Partridge.

“Wrongfully Accused” production manager Warren Carr refused to discuss the details of the hearing, but he said he was relieved that the Labor Relations Board had lifted the union’s “boycott” of his production.

“There’s a significant amount at stake for all parties,” Carr said. “I feel its is a very positive step and a step can only be made more positive if the two parties look each other in the eye and work to the same goal.”

It’s the last battle in what is fast becoming a drawn-out war between the 1,100-member union, big-budget Hollywood studios and the B.C government.

Last week, the labor board rejected the union’s application to go on strike against “Police Academy” when contract negotiations failed.

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