UNI Global Union’s affiliate in the United States and Canada, IATSE, has joined the global effort to push for gender equality in the workplace. IATSE, one of the largest media unions in North America, is joining the fight to ratify ILO Convention 190 on harassment and abuse at work.

“The tremendous power and solidarity the women of IATSE have contributed, and continue to contribute, to both the entertainment industry and the greater labour movement, cannot be understated.  I am proud to have had the opportunity to appoint the first IATSE Women’s Committee and to join them in their fight for equality,” said IATSE President Matthew D. Loeb

After Uruguay ratified the groundbreaking ILO Convention 190, Spain, Finland and Argentina have also made commitments to do so.

Last week, as part of the Canadian Labour Congress’ National Lobby Day, UNI MEI’s affiliate IATSE sent 20 lobbyists to join 387 labour representatives from unions all over Canada to urge the government to ratify ILO C190. Representatives of IATSE were hopeful that the Canadian government would ratify the Convention by the end of 2020.

“Media and entertainment workers have been on the frontlines of fighting gender-based violence at work, and IATSE in Canada is continuing that push with their drive to get ILO C190 ratified,” said Johannes Studinger, Head of UNI MEI. 

IATSE’s anti-harassment work

IATSE, whose members work in live theatre/concerts, motion picture and television production, television broadcasting, as well as equipment and construction shops that support the entertainment industry, has been a pioneer in fighting harassment in the workplace.

The work the union has done on collectively bargaining around harassment and violence has made a difference to workers like Cecilia Waszczuk (Assistant Electrician, National Ballet of Canada), Melissa Grandovec (Scenic Carpenter, National Ballet of Canada), Pascale Thibodeau (Local 58 member) Ashley Rose (Head Electrician, National Ballet of Canada).

“I’m a stagehand.  It’s important for me to know that I’ve got protections in the workplace around violence and harassment, whether I require them or not,” says Cecilia Waszczuk, Assistant Electrician at the National Ballet of Canada and IATSE 58 member. “Thanks to my union, I do.  All women should have the same protections.”

Domestic Violence Paid Leave

The Canadian province of British Columbia has proposed new legislation to provide 5 days paid leave for workers facing sexual or domestic violence.  The changes to the Employment Standards Act have been met with unanimous support from all parties and is broadly welcomed by business groups.  According to the proposal, all employees will be eligible – full-time and part-time staff – and no police reports or other documentation will be required.  The province joins Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick, who also provide five days of paid leave for those facing domestic violence.

In the live performance industry, some IATSE locals have bargained (or are in the process of bargaining) language around sexual harassment or leave for domestic violence directly into their contracts.  IATSE Local 58, which represents stagehands in Toronto, has negotiated the following:


The vast majority of IATSE members on film sets across the US and Canada now receive anti-harassment training at the outset of each new production. In Montreal, IATSE Local 514 created an online anti-sexual harassment training for their members and made it available on a per-member fee basis to other locals interested in offering it to their members. The training is mandatory for all new members.

IATSE’s equality statement can be found here.

For more information on the efforts to ratify ILO C190, watch UNI Equal Opportunities’ video here.