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News
November 7, 2018

If you’re wondering what’s going on with the class action lawsuit against Cineflix Canada, you’ll have the opportunity to find out more about it and ask questions next week.

We’re  holding a webinar and Q&A for anyone interested in finding out more about this legal action. It’s scheduled for Tuesday, November 13 from 7:30 pm to 8:15 pm EST.

During the webinar you’ll hear from the ‘representative plaintiff’, Anna Bourque, about why we need this action now. You’ll be able to ask questions to the lawyer at Cavalluzzo LLP, Tassia Poynter, who is heading up this lawsuit. And we’ll also talk about how forming a union can help us go beyond the class action to make permanent improvements in our industry.

This free interactive webinar is hosted by the CMG’s Fairness in Factual campaign. You can register to participate at this link. You’ll have the option to participate in this webinar anonymously.

News
October 9, 2018

Claim says hundreds of people were hired improperly, denied pay and labour standards

TORONTO (Oct. 9, 2018) – The Canadian Media Guild / CWA Canada is welcoming a $35-million class action lawsuit filed by law firm Cavalluzzo on behalf of hundreds of reality and factual TV workers who have worked at Cineflix Canada, which produces such TV shows as Property Brothers and Mayday.

The legal action follows a five-year campaign by CMG and its parent union CWA Canada to bring fair working conditions to this part of the entertainment industry.

“Reality and factual TV are the wild west of the entertainment world,” said Lise Lareau, a co-ordinator of the CMG’s Fairness in Factual TV campaign. “People working in this area of production are cut out of labour laws. They don’t have the rights of other employees, and historically they’ve been left out of union contracts enjoyed by the rest of the entertainment industry.”

Most reality and factual TV production companies make their workers set up their own corporations or sign contracts saying they are “independent contractors” and then don’t provide overtime pay, vacation pay and paid holidays. The failure to pay these basic entitlements is the basis for the Cavalluzzo class action lawsuit.

The statement of claim for the suit is based on the experience of Anna Bourque, a production worker whose most recent contract at Cineflix was September 2017 to February 2018.

“Picture editors and story editors work together taking hundreds of hours of footage and sharpening it into 43 minutes or so of entertaining television, but as schedules get squeezed our hours expand and there is never compensation for that, so our pay becomes inversely proportional to the hours worked,” Bourque said.

The ‘Fairness in Factual TV’ campaign began five years ago when a group of reality and factual TV workers decided enough was enough and sought the support of the Canadian Media Guild / CWA Canada. More than 400 people have signed up as supporters since the campaign began.

“Since these workers aren’t covered by union contracts, production companies often use them as a way to create less expensive but still lucrative programming,” said CMG organizer Denise O’Connell, who has spent 20 years in the industry.

Kat Lapointe, an organizer with CMG / CWA Canada, said the fact that you sign a contract that calls you an independent contractor does not mean that you are not entitled to basic minimum employment standards.

“It is not that simple. Treating people as outside of employment laws keeps people vulnerable and unable to build sustainable careers. It means they’re forced to deal one-on-one with the company — putting each individual worker at a disadvantage — rather than having a collective voice to win fairness and respect at work.”

The Guild is urging people in the industry to talk about this issue at work and join our campaign www.fairnessinfactualtv.ca. If you feel your work conditions have been unfair, contact the union at factualtv@cmg.ca. Write a few lines about your experience and attach a recent contract. It will be held in complete confidence.

Those who have worked at Cineflix, Boat Rocker Media, Insight Productions or other companies who want more information about class action lawsuits can visit the Cavalluzzo LLP website: http://www.cavalluzzo.com/factual-televison-classaction or email: factual-television-classaction@cavalluzzo.com.

For more information:

Lise Lareau, CMG Fairness in Factual TV campaign: lise@cmg.ca; 416-524-5473

Kat Lapointe, CMG/CWA Canada organizer: kat@cmg.ca; 416-795-8598

Denise O’Connell, CMG organizer: oconnellmedia@yahoo.ca

News
July 17, 2018

Do you work in factual TV production in Canada? We invite you to join with your industry colleagues to improve working conditions and safety, and help make this a sustainable industry.

It’s time to stop assuming we are excluded from the going rates, balanced hours, work security, pay consistency, safe sets and decent treatment just because we happen to work in factual and reality TV. The business if booming (yes it really is!!) and it’s not going away. There’s no reason why we should be treated as if we’re the passing fad.

We’ve been left behind.

The entertainment industry is doing well. Despite a rash of consolidation deals and a shrinking number of production companies, there remains an insatiable demand for video content both in Canada and around the world. That’s true of both the scripted and unscripted genres. Yes only the workers on the scripted productions have access to union contracts and set rules. We’ve been left behind, both by the producers and the industry unions.

Until now.

A group of factual TV workers is coordinating efforts with the CMG to see if there’s enough support to form a union at one or more companies. Such a move could only happen if there is a majority who want it. That’s why you may be asked to join a committee or talk to others about the campaign.

Who can be involved?

Anyone who works in factual/reality production – from story producers to assistant directors, to camera operators and editors to production accountants. All would be most welcome as supporters or committee members.

The Canadian Media Guild hosted a night for Factual TV workers at Bier Markt in Toronto on Thursday, July 19, 2018. Photo by Marta Iwanek.