In November of 2000, the IATSE was approached by the employees of Neptune Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Through the course of signing representation cards and commencing the certification process, a number of unexpected issues arose, most importantly the IA found out that there was an already existing, valid, thirty year old, certification in place. As it turns out, Neptune was certified by Local 680, thirty years ago, however a collective agreement was never attained. In the Nova Scotia labour code, there is no provision for abandonment of bargaining rights, so even after this incredible period of time elapsed, the IA was still in a position to commence bargaining with the theatre.
After notifying Neptune of the intention to bargain, the IA was informed that the theatre was going to take the position, that because the original certification excluded anyone above and including the rank of “foreman”, they were not intending to include any of the “heads of department” in the bargaining unit. Their interpretation of “foreman”, meant “heads of department.” Immediately, the IA filed at the Labour Board for clarification of the original unit. Subsequent conversations with Neptune convinced us to put the application for clarification on hold, with hopes that through the collective bargaining process we could come to terms with the issue of “heads of department.”
Finally, after nearly forty years of non-representation, the employees of Neptune Theatre have unanimously ratified their first collective agreement. This agreement not only covers all heads of department; it includes assistants, all shop employees and casuals. We were also successful in obtaining the wardrobe construction shop. Additionally, it is the first collective agreement for stage craft in Local 680’s jurisdiction. As a direct result of this theatre being organized, Local 680 is bringing into membership approximately 20 new members, which represents almost 25% of their total membership.
Some main benefits realized in the new agreement are:
- sick and bereavement leave
- shift premium
- 4 hour minimum call
- all the jobs in the jurisdiction
- meal break penalties
- 10 holidays per year
- increase to 6% and 8% vacation pay based on years of service
- up to 33% increase in wages for some employees
- 10 hour turnaround
It is hard to pinpoint an exact percentage that accurately reflects the increases Neptune employees will enjoy due to the signing of this contract. However, and more importantly, there is now structure in the working environment and the employees now have a way to address common concerns with their employer.
Negotiations were spearheaded by International Representative Sean McGuire.