The Alliance québécoise des techniciens et techniciennes de l'image et du son (AQTIS - Alliance of Image and Sound Technicians) represents some 6200 freelance professionals in more than 134 trades associated with the design, planning, set-up or creation of audiovisual productions. It represents, defends and promotes their interests in dealing with various stakeholders, provides them with a social safety net, and negotiates collective agreements that establish the working conditions to which they are entitled.
AQTIS members are active in the key departments associated with movie and television production:
- TV Production
- TV Control Room
- Production Assistance
- Set Design/Scenery
- Technical Effects
AQTIS was born of the need of freelance professionals to work together to find common solutions to the challenges they face. It is intended as a collective tool for discussion, action and advocacy on behalf of all technicians working in the image and sound industry, regardless of their occupation or sector of activity.
In the context of its union mandate, AQTIS is recognized under the Quebec Act respecting the professional status of artists as the exclusive representative for the artistic creation sectors in the field of film and television production recording using images and sound. It holds the same status under federal laws.
A LONG HISTORY!
The Alliance québécoise des techniciens de l’image et du son was born of more than 45 years of struggle on the part of image and sound technicians to create an association to defend their interests.
In the early 1960s, a group of freelance technicians working for the National Film Board and Radio Canada – as well as in the private sector, where the industry was still in its infancy – felt the need to work together to establish the basis for fairer working relationships with employers.
1963 : crEATION OF THE ASSOCIATION PROFESSIONNELLE DES CINÉASTES
A first association, the Association professionnelle des cinéastes (APC – professional film-makers’ association) was established in 1963. This led to the first union accreditation, for the Syndicat général du cinéma et de la télévision, under the federal Public Service Labour Relations Act. This accreditation covered only the activities of the National Film Board (NFB).
1970 : BIRTH OF THE SYNDICAT NATIONAL DU CINÉMA
1970 saw the creation of the Syndicat national du cinema (SNC), a union representing freelance technicians. It was incorporated under the Quebec Professional Syndicates Act. The first collective agreement was signed with an American producer. Supported by the Fédération québécoise de l’industrie du cinéma, the newly established SNC recognized the need for strong local representation of technicians in order to counter attempts by American unions to establish themselves in Quebec.
What followed was a series of piecemeal agreements due to the fact that the negotiating regime established by the Labour Code did not provide for accreditation to negotiate a single agreement with all producers.
In 1973, the SNC undertook to negotiate a collective agreement with the Association des producteurs de film du Québec (APFQ). This negotiation was terminated by the APFQ in 1974, and no agreement was signed.
1976 : foUNDING OF THE ASSOCIATION DES PROFESSIONNELS DU CINÉMA DU QUÉBEC
The technicians reacted in 1975 by attempting to impose a collective agreement on all producers. A series of actions followed that were aimed at forcing producers to sign SNC contracts. Not everyone was happy with this position, and in 1976, some of the members founded the Association des professionnels du cinéma du Québec (APCQ), which mainly covered advertising for English-language productions and for co-productions.
That same year, the SNC finally signed a first collective agreement with the APFTQ. This was a civil agreement because labour laws proscribed standard accreditation for self-employed workers. Meanwhile, the SNC affiliated itself with the CSN in order to benefit from specialized labour relations services. The collective agreement was renewed in 1979.
In the years that followed, the situation on-set became quite difficult: the presence of two unions and the notion of set majority opened the door to a multitude of licensees and new members. In addition, numerous producers who were not APFTQ members worked without an SNC contract, threatening the fragile balance of power between producers and technicians. Production also declined, leading to difficult periods of unemployment for some, even as they paid very high membership fees.
1983: crEATION OF THE SYNDICAT DES TECHNICIENS DU CINÉMA DU QUÉBEC
In 1983 the members of the two associations – the APCQ and the SNC – decided to merge under the name Syndicat des techniciens du cinéma du Québec (STCQ), and to leave the CSN.
In early 1987, a new agreement, still a civil contract, was signed with the APFTQ. Not long after, the STCQ added video to its business activities, becoming the Syndicat des techniciens du cinéma et de la vidéo du Québec (STCVQ).
By the end of that year, under relentless pressure from the Union des Artistes, the Government of Quebec realized that it was impossible for self-employed workers in the performing, recording and film industries to have their rights recognized under the Labour Code, and brought in the Act respecting the professional status and conditions of engagement of performing, recording and film artists. This became known as the Status of the Artist Act. It allows technicians to be recognized as artists and to require producers’ associations to negotiate agreements with the associations representing the various categories of artist.
In July 1989, the STCVQ was recognized as an artists’ association for the film production industry by the Commission de reconnaissance des associations d’artistes et des associations de producteurs (CRAAAP). Initially, 16 artist occupations were recognized, out of the 65 listed on the application.
In 1991, technicians working on platforms other than film did not feel represented by the STCVQ, and founded the Association des professionnels de la vidéo du Québec (APVQ). In July 1993, the APVQ was recognized by the CRAAAP for the video production sector. The CRAAAP thereby limited the scope of associations’ jurisdiction by using the platform as the reference. The APVQ signed its first collective agreement with the APFTQ in August 1996.
2004: THE EMERGENCE OF AQTIS
Technological progress rendered the separation of production types by platform obsolete, and led to the two technicians’ associations merging in 2004, thereby creating the Alliance québécoise des techniciens de l’image et du son (AQTIS).
The process of merging proved to be more complex than anticipated, and the new association had difficulty encouraging the technicians and employees of the two former associations to unify. Furthermore, there was a dramatic collapse in the number of productions, which until that point had been constantly increasing. The year was a trying one financially for technicians, and as a result, for the association.
2005-2008 : DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN AQTIS AND THE IATSE
In late 2005, some technicians from a local of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE) decided to take advantage of this difficult period by creating a situation that threatened the industrial peace for American productions shot in Quebec. A series of negotiations followed in an attempt to reach an agreement between the two associations, under the supervision of a government-appointed mediator. The parties were unsuccessful in finding a solution. The IATSE filed an application with the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) to become the technicians’ union representative. AQTIS defended its exclusive recognitions. The conflict went to court, and opposed the two Quebec laws governing union representation.
In February 2007, threatened with massive job losses because American producers were afraid to film in Quebec, the Government of Quebec was asked to become directly involved in resolving the problem created by the existence of two competing laws governing the industry. The government struck a committee to prepare an update on the legislative context in order to re-establish peace in Quebec’s film and television industry.
2008 : SHARED JURIDICTION BETWEEN AQTIS AND THE IATSE
In the summer of 2008, the two unions reached an agreement, and in September of that year, signed a temporary agreement limiting IATSE’s jurisdiction to certain sectors of American productions, while awaiting the adoption of legislative amendments expected in the spring of 2009.
In 2014, the labour peace agreement came to an end, opening the door to inter-union poaching.
AQTIS undertook a restructuring of its services. It is involved in first collective agreement arbitrage, its area of expertise. Its services to members have made it stronger and more unified. AQTIS remains the association most seriously involved in defending the interests of its members, as an industrial partner and in political arenas, in these times of technological and regulatory change.
AQTIS represents more than 6 200 creative artists, craftspeople and technicians in at least 134 different occupations, including set design, make-up, hair styling, camera, sound, scripts, technical effects and lighting, editing, control room, post-production, TV control room and TV production.