Cineflix Media will not be signing a collective agreement with unions CWA Canada and IATSE following its settlement of a class action lawsuit from factual workers last year.
The Montreal-based media company has opted to pay out $2.5 million to members of the class action, rather than the alternative option of paying $1 million with a collective agreement.
“We have learned a great deal through this process, and we are very confident that our policies and practices surrounding factual production are consistent with the employment standards across the industry,” said Glen Salzman, co-founder and co-CEO of Cineflix Media, in a statement. “We believe that our settlement decision is in the best interest of the company and its employees, and will allow Cineflix to continue to operate successfully.”
In September 2021, Cineflix reached a settlement with Toronto firm Cavalluzzo over a class action lawsuit that alleged Cineflix violated the Ontario Employment Standards Act by classifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees, claiming that workers were not compensated for overtime, vacation or holiday pay.
If Cineflix had opted to sign the agreement, it would have been the first time a production company in Canada formed a collective agreement with factual workers. The template agreement provided by CWA Canada and IATSE had provisions such as minimum pay scales, overtime, vacation and holiday pay, as well as meal breaks and travel time.
However, the outcome is considered a “win-win” for workers, according to a release from CWA Canada.
“I think it could actually be the best result for all workers. Cineflix decided to pay $2.5 million to all the people in the class action, none of which hinders the Cineflix workers from organizing, unionizing, and getting a collective agreement anyway,” said Anna Bourque, the representative plaintiff in the class action case.
A similar class action lawsuit between factual workers and Toronto-based production company Insight Productions was filed in 2020, but was dismissed this past January due to a “legal technicality” arising from a misunderstanding of deadlines in case management meetings, according to CWA Canada.
CWA Canada launched a Fairness in Factual campaign more than six years ago to lobby for better working conditions for crew members on unscripted productions. IATSE joined the campaign in 2019 and broadened its scope to provide more comprehensive coverage to factual workers. The union currently represents more than 30,000 workers in Canada, largely for scripted productions.
By Kelly Townsend, Playback Daily