Return to Work Motion Picture Guidelines

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am compelled to respond to concerns regarding all the “Return to Work Motion Picture Guidelines” being distributed by sources such as Deadline.com, Variety and various social media outlets. None of these guidelines are recognized by any labour organization in the US or in Canada. Talks amongst the Studios and US Labour Organizations have just recently started.

To publish and suggest that these guidelines can be implemented without Local Health Authority and Labour Organizations approval is both premature and irresponsible.

Could parts of these documents be in a return to work here in B.C.? Possibly, but it’s yet to be decided. I am in regular communication with Teamsters Hollywood Local 399 and New York Teamsters Local 817 regarding a safe return to work. As recently communicated, B.C. Film Unions are working together to create a safe return to work that recognizes our collective agreements and our jurisdictions. Discussions are ongoing throughout this country and the U.S. with the AMPTP on how we can return to work safely.

I have serious concerns on how the return to work will look, but just like when we, the Union Representatives, refer our Collective Agreement to a member, when our members have an issue that we can’t satisfy, this Collective Agreement is the same one we will point to the Employer when new protocols are being introduced. It cannot be at the expense of our Collective Agreement and our members.

Will a return to work look different? Yes. What it will look like is too early to tell. There are more questions than answers at this point. The key is returning to work safely. Not before.

Please try to step back and take the time to calm yourself as this will be a very big challenge for all of us as we are embarking on new territory for the next 18 months. My hope is that we can collectively redefine what a workday will look like. Production companies will have to retool, reorganize, be better prepared, schedule realistically and consider the safety of their employees more than they ever have before. Out of this, things will definitely look different. The way production was scheduled and produced had become out of control for various reasons including technological advancements. The expectations on labour had become unreasonable and unmanageable.

We all could benefit from this fresh start. Productions shutdown because the companies realized it was unsafe to continue, not from Government intervention. The responsible ones will come back when they can do so safely, regardless of when the Government lifts the current limitations. Those that don’t will have to be held responsible. We will all have to work together to make this happen. I’m confident that we can do so in due time.

In the interim, we have embarked on an outreach to various members in all divisions in an effort to incorporate their constructive feedback for solutions in our ‘best practice recommendations’ for the various COVID-19 task groups or coalitions we are participating in.

In closing I can assure you that our obligation to our members is their safety and their rights as workers under a Collective Agreement.  Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope this finds you and your loved ones well.

In Solidarity,

Lorrie Ward
Secretary-Treasurer
Teamsters Local Union No.155