Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montréal, November 3, 2019 - CRARR calls the International Alliance of Technician Stage Employees (IATSE), Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada to remove its Montreal Vice-President for making racially discriminatory remarks in relation to a Black employee of the Société du Parc Jean-Drapeau (SPJD) who experienced racial discrimination and harassment on the job.

IATSE is a union that represents workers in the entertainment industry in both the U.S and Canada. SPJD is a paramunicipal agency that manages the park. SPJD employees are members of this union and are represented by the Local 56 district in Montreal.

Last week, it was reported in a Montreal Gazette article (see below), that in 2016, Mr. Bienné Blémur, a head stage rigger at the Jean Drapeau Park of Haitian background and in his 60s, was called “f-ing N-” in front of his co-workers and exposed to other unfair treatments that involved being demoted to loading trucks, despite his own seniority and being sent home by the chief carpenter without explanation.

When Blémur complained to his employer, the SPJD (a municipal park management agency) about the slur, the latter replied that to be called the N-word is no worse than to be laughed at for one’s baldness.

A day-long mediation under Arbitrator Robert Rivest was held in June 2017, in which CRARR’s Executive Director Fo Niemi and IATSE Local 56 Vice-President Richard Soly participated to support Blémur. Soly was, in fact, Blémur’s union representative after the race-based incident of 2016.

The mediation led to a settlement agreement binding upon the SPDJ, IATSE and Blémur. The agreement recognizes that he was the victim of racist slurs, “isolated and excluded” and that the employer did not handle, in an effective, rigorous and adequate manner, the situation.

However, many conditions of the Agreement were not applied after its signature, despite being probated by the Superior Court. In the meantime, Blémur’s harasser was promoted by the union from team leader to chief carpenter, which meant that upon his return, Blémur would have to work under the supervision of this person. Blémur did not go back to work as a result.

After one year of absence, upon his third return to work, the same chief machinist tried to again replace Blémur in his position of head stage rigger by the same person involved in the events of 2016. Blémur filed a second grievance for discrimination, and racial and psychological harassment.

As harassment continued, Blémur left his workplace and filed a third grievance for racial discrimination and harassment. He then filed a complaint with the Quebec Administrative Labor Tribunal against his union for failure in its representation in light of the union’s handling of his case. Since January 2019, Blémur has been in court three times to fight for his right to return to work in a safe and respectful environment.

Read The Gazette article: