During this round of bargaining, a renewal of the COVID19 LOU with the employers and the BCCFU Member Unions, became a major stumbling block in moving forward with the Master Agreement negotiations. It was, however, crucial that we had a working COVID-19 testing and compensation agreement in place prior to expiry on March 31. Upon expiry, there was an agreed to one-month extension. When this extension expired, the Producers imposed an up to $250 stipend that was inferior to our previous agreement but closely lined up with the remainder of the industry in North America. The BCCFU then filed a complaint at the BC Labour Board. Subsequently, an agreement was reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture Television Producers and the Canadian Media Producers Association – BC Branch (the Employers) on common terms and conditions related to COVID-19 testing and paid sick leave that brings BC workers into alignment with motion picture workers throughout the rest of North America.

Although Local 155’s bargaining committee was not in agreement with the process or some of the terms, the majority was in agreement, and by virtue of being part of the BCCFU, we accept that this agreement is what is now in place. To be clear, it was negotiated outside of the collective agreement as a standalone agreement.

The major differences between this COVID-19 LOU and the one previously negotiated between the BC Unions and Guilds and individual Employers, which expired on April 30th, 2021, include:

• The effective term of the Letter of Understanding is from May 1st, 2021, until March 31, 2024, though it may be discontinued prior to the expiry depending on the status of pandemic.
• Compensation for time spent undergoing testing on a day when an Employee does not work for the Employer will be in the form of a stipend of $250 not subject to overtime or turnaround and is not subject to Pension or Health contributions.
• Compensation for when an Employee is required to self-administer a temperature check or fill out a Health Assessment Survey prior to reporting to work when an Employee also works for the Employer will be a payment of 1/10th of an hour which does not affect the Employee’s start time, mealtimes, rest periods or overtime.
• Compensation for Paid Sick Leave will be capped at $750 per day, and $7,500 in the aggregate.
• The Paid Sick Leave day count per Employer when an Employee has an eligible COVID-19 Event will be set at up to 10 days regardless of any paid sick leave days paid prior to May 1st.
• The list of eligible COVID-19 events is expanded to include:

o when an Employee must provide care for a child or senior whose childcare or senior care provider ceases operations due to COVID-19,
o when an Employee needs to care for a child, parent, or spouse who is subject to a federal, provincial or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19,
o when an Employee experiences symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevents the Employee from being able to work,
o when an Employee is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for protection against contracting COVID-19.

• A variety of the expenses related to COVID-19 costs will be allowed to be discounted from budget amounts in the consideration of assigning Tier Levels.
• New provisions related to Employees required to work from home have been outlined.
As we move forward with the declining case count and the increasing vaccination rate, we hope that the terms and conditions outlined in the COVID-19 LOU will become unnecessary. We look forward to that date when all members can return to work without the need for testing regimens and special protocols.

To review the fully executed May 1, 2021 COVID-19 Letter of Understanding (LOU) please click here.