Quebec unions reach accord


MONTREAL -- A tentative deal has been reached to end an 18-month turf war over Hollywood movie shoots in Montreal between rival film production unions.

The Quebec government on Monday said an "agreement in principle" has been agreed to by rival unions the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees locals 667 and 514 in Montreal and the Alliance quebecoise des techniciens de l'image et du son, a local Quebec technicians union.

Quebec Culture Minister Line Beauchamp, who last week intervened to help end the dispute between the rival unions, said the deal now awaits ratification by the rank and file of both unions.

"I hope it (agreement in principle) will be ratified as soon as possible so that foreign production can return to Quebec under the best possible conditions and with the assurance of having skilled technicians readily available," the provincial minister said in a statement.

All parties in the dispute have withheld details on the tentative agreement until both unions have had a chance to hold a ratification vote.

IATSE local 667 is voting on the deal today, while local 514 is set to poll its members this coming weekend. AQTIS members will place their own ballots on Thursday night.

IATSE earlier proposed that it come away with jurisdiction over "independent American productions," or Hollywood movie shoots that are foreign-controlled, to secure an agreement with AQTIS.

For its part, AQTIS was expected to land jurisdiction over projects by local Quebec producers.

Quebec film commissioner Hans Fraikin said the tentative deal was reached late Friday night in Montreal after marathon talks.

Fraiken added that the agreement in principle focuses solely on foreign, mostly American shoots, in Montreal.

Fraiken added that the tentative agreement marked a turning point for Montreal's film industry, which began experiencing labor instability when IATSE began making a play for AQTIS jobs in Montreal in 2005.

"This deal is going to mean the difference between a healthy 2007 and a disastrous 2007," the Quebec film commissioner said.

Fraiken added that he will be explaining the tentative agreement to studio representatives this week and next as they consider bringing projects to the city in the coming months.