The members of the Directors Guild of Canada in British Columbia have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, after a year of negotiations on a new contract reached an impasse.
The union announced that the vote passed with 92.2% support, with 86.2% of eligible members casting a vote. Union officials hope the vote gives negotiators the leverage to seek greater concessions in talks with film and TV producers.
“We thank our members for the solidarity they have shown with this overwhelming mandate,” said Allan Harmon, the chairman of the union’s British Columbia council. “Their strength and resolve make it clear that respect, fairness and safety in the workplace are non-negotiable.”
The union — which represents 1,700 film and TV workers in the Vancouver area — called the strike vote on Monday, the first in its history.
A strike threatens to shut down production in Vancouver, which has become a key hub for TV series in recent years thanks to tax credits from the provincial and national governments.
Productions that are already underway in the province would be protected in the event of a strike, as the British Columbia Labour Relations Board has mandated the use of “safe harbor” agreements during the negotiations. And new productions can still come to the province and sign a safe harbor agreement until a strike is actually called.
In a statement this week, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Canadian Media Producers Association warned that the strike authorization vote sends “a message of labor uncertainty in the province and seriously jeopardizes British Columbia’s reputation as an attractive location for motion picture production.”
“Considering the potential for labor instability in British Columbia, companies represented by the AMPTP and CMPA may be forced to reevaluate their plans for basing new productions in the province,” the employer groups said in a statement.
In response, the DGC said the employers were threatening to take jobs away in retaliation for the vote.
“The bottom line is that the best way to ensure long-term labor stability is for the parties to reach a deal that’s fair to everyone working under the DGC BC collective agreement,” the union said.
The union is seeking increases in minimum wages, particularly at the lower end of the pay scale. They are also seeking that increases be paid retroactive to March 2021, when the last contract expired. The employer groups say they have offered a proposal that includes across-the-board increases.
The Labour Board has sought to mediate the dispute. The DGC represents directors, location managers, production assistants and other workers.
The Directors Guild of America issued a statement on Friday expressing support for its Canadian counterpart.
“The Directors Guild of America stands in solidarity with our DGC brothers and sisters in British Columbia,” a DGA spokesman said. “The issues of respect, fair compensation and safety they are fighting for are important to all workers. We urge the AMPTP and the CMPA to return to the bargaining table and make a fair deal addressing these critical issues.”