British Columbia Directors Union Issues 72-Hour Strike Notice

The union that represents film and TV directors in Vancouver issued a 72-hour strike notice on Tuesday, saying that a negotiating session with employers on Monday had not yielded any progress.

The notice gives the Directors Guild of Canada the power to call a strike in British Columbia as early as Friday. Under Canadian law, unions must provide 72 hours’ notice of labor actions.

Shows that are currently in production under “safe harbor” agreements would not be affected by a strike, but as of Tuesday no new safe harbor agreements will be issued. Any production that is not covered by such an agreement will be subject to strike, if the union chooses to call one.

The DGC represents about 1,700 workers in the Vancouver area, including directors, unit managers, location workers and production assistants. The membership overwhelmingly approved a strike authorization vote earlier this month, with 92.2% voting in favor.

Allan Harmon, chairman of the union’s B.C. District Council, said in a statement that he had hoped that the vote would have resulted in some progress on the union’s concerns. The union requested the meeting, which took place on Monday, but the employers refused to budge.

“Their refusal to address these issues has left us with no other choice but to issue strike notice,” Harmon said.

The union has been working for more than a year on a new contract with the studio employers, and are seeking wage increases particularly at the lower end of the pay scale. The union is also seeking to make increases retroactive to the expiration of the last contract, in March 2021, and is seeking compensation for COVID testing days.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Canadian Media Producers Association — which represent the employers — have warned that the union’s actions send a message of “labor uncertainly” and that companies might be forced to consider shooting elsewhere.

Vancouver is a major hub for production thanks to provincial and national tax credits, and the city is often used to stand in for New York or other cities on screen.

The British Columbia Labour Relations Board has been working to mediate the dispute. The board imposed safe harbor agreements on the industry in 2008 as a way to protect the stability of the industry while contracts are being negotiated.