IATSE Joins the Fairness in Factual Campaign!
•  Posted on  January 29, 2019  

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), North America’s largest entertainment union, is joining forces with Fairness in Factual TV. It is teaming up with media union CWA Canada, which is the ‘parent union’ of the Canadian Media Guild, specifically to support our campaign.

“What we’ve learned after five years of being a voice for factual TV workers is that they need and want union contracts similar to those in the scripted TV industry but tailored to factual,” CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said.  “They’re done with being treated as poor cousins. This alliance will help them improve their working lives.”

IATSE, which represents factual/reality workers in the United States and a large majority of workers in scripted TV in Canada, brings its experience and influence to the campaign.

“Workers in factual TV need a strong, experienced voice that can represent them when they are fighting for better working conditions,” said John Lewis, IATSE International Vice President and Director of Canadian Affairs.  “We have decades of experience representing entertainment industry workers and understand their unique needs.”

Denise O’Connell, a former factual TV worker who has been a key part of the Fairness in Factual TV campaign, says the alliance is a great step forward.

“CMG / CWA Canada has a history representing workers in information programming, many of whom also work in factual. IATSE has stood up for health and safety protections on set, which is a major issue in the industry, and its contracts cover both independent contractors and employees. So it’s a great combination.”

Independent contractors and employees often work side by side in the industry and misclassification is common, which robs workers of their legal rights, such as overtime and vacation pay. That is the subject of a $35-million class action lawsuit filed by Cavalluzzo LLP last October against Cineflix, one of the biggest production companies in Canada’s industry.

The lawsuit has changed the landscape of the industry in just three months according to Lise Lareau, a co-ordinator with the Fairness for Factual TV campaign.

“We know producers are making some small changes in how they employ people, in response to the lawsuit,” Lareau said. “It’s a start, but they are minimal changes so far. Union contracts are the only way to ensure pay increases as the industry adjusts to its new reality.”

The Fairness in Factual TV campaign is part of a wider activism among factual TV workers in North America. In early January, factual TV workers at Peacock Productions in the U.S. signed their first union contract. Workers at VICE Media in Canada, which produces news and broader nonfiction programming, joined CMG / CWA Canada and won a first contract in 2017.