Hundreds rally at Egg Films

By Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Hundreds of members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), in town for a meeting of IATSE’s International General Executive Board, rallied this morning at the offices of Egg Films on Lower Water Street.

Hundreds of IATSE members, in town for a conference, rallied at the Egg Studios office in downtown Halifax to protest a recent lock-out of its members. Photo Robert Devet
Hundreds of IATSE members, in town for a conference, rallied at the Egg Studios office in downtown Halifax to protest a recent lock-out of its members. Photo Robert Devet

In March of this year Egg Films, the largest local producer of television commercials, locked out 290 unionized freelance film technicians, members of IATSE Local 849, after failing to reach a second collective agreement.

Earlier the company fought the Local 849 union certification at the Labour Board, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, and the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

In September of last year Egg Films ran out of options when the Supreme Court of Canada tossed out its final appeal.

For the owners of Egg Studios, Sara Thomas and Mike Hachey, it clearly is an emotional issue.

Thomas, Hachey and fifteen or so supporters appeared at the union rally and loudly berated the union members at every opportunity.

The union leadership consists of bullies and the certification vote was flawed, they tell the Halifax Media Co-op.

Egg Studios supporters also say that the Labour Board that certified IATSE was biased, and that the Nova Scotia Court if Appeal doesn’t understand the law it is supposed to uphold.

“I wished they (IATSE) would just go back home and if they want to pick on somebody pick on somebody their own size,” Kevin Springer, a supporter of Egg Studios, tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

Gary Vermeir, business agent for the Local, shrugs it all off.

“We certified Egg Films according to the laws of the land,.Vermeir says, pointing to the trail of legal appeals lost by Egg Studios, all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court.

“So if Egg Films has problems with the Supreme Court of Canada then I don’t know what to tell you,” Vermeir says. “We followed the rules, the appropriate number of people voted and at the end of the day we won the vote and we were certified. We didn’t twist anybody’s arms, we played by the rules of the land.”

“There seems to be an ideological bend with this company in that they absolutely don’t want anything to do with unions and as a result our members suffer. So who is the bully really,” Vermeir asks.

The union wants the Egg Studios lock-out lifted and bargaining to resume, Vermeir tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“Our people like working for Egg,” he says. “We’re not saying that they are evil people, we are saying that they are anti-union.”

“Our people like working for Egg,” he says. “We're not saying that they are evil people, we are saying that they are anti-union.” Photo Robert Devet
“Our people like working for Egg,” he says. “We’re not saying that they are evil people, we are saying that they are anti-union.” Photo Robert Devet

The union has countered the lock out by filing an Unfair Labour Practice complaint against the company.

IATSE has also declared Egg Films an unfair employer, meaning any IATSE member anywhere in North America is barred from working for the company.

That means that Egg Films will not be able to use unionized camera men anywhere on this continent.

Soon Europe may follow.

“We have a commitment from BECTU, the technicians union in England. They are going to spread the word in Europe as well,” Vermeir says.

“It’s all so foolish, and it’s all so unnecessary,” Vermeir says. “This company rather throws money at lawyers, instead of rewarding and working with the crews that have been with them for years.”

A version of this article originally appeared at the Halifax Media Co-op

Follow the campaign of the locked out workers of IATSE Local 849 on Facebook

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