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10 

ACTRA MAGAZINE

Arguably, negotiating ACTRA’s collective

agreements is one of the most important

activities our union does for our members.

When negotiating with producers, we strive

to improve the wages and working condi-

tions of performers while resisting produ-

cer demands for roll-backs and

concessions. Most negotiations are settled

with neither ACTRA nor the Engagers feel-

ing theywon or lost big over the other, which

is the best result. But not all negotiations

unfold that way.

Our 2006 Independent Production Agree-

ment (IPA) negotiations remain one of our

most volatile, and ultimately successful,

rounds of bargaining.

In anticipation of our first day of IPA ne-

gotiations on October 23, 2006, we knew

Internet production was going to be on the

table. Robb Wells, Mike Smith, John Paul

Tremblay, Eric Peterson, Alberta Watson,

Wendy Crewson, David Sparrow, Maurice

DeanWint, TonyaWilliams andmany others

joined our bargaining team that day in

75 years

of collective

strength

By Stephen Waddell

support of the ACTRA negotiating commit-

tee and our objectives. When the producers

tabled their proposals, we saw their pro-

posals would have eviscerated performers’

pay—10–25% pay cuts; attacks to our resid-

ual system; and no additional payment for

performers’ work in digital media.

An exacerbated Gordon Pinsent was so

offended by the proposals, he stood up from

the bargaining table and walked right out

of the room.

In the tough days and nights that fol-

lowed, our membership across the country

supported our bargaining team. Following

unsuccessful efforts to find an agreement

with the assistance of amediator, ACTRA’s

Negotiating Committee and National Exec-

utive jointly issued a letter asking themem-

bership to support a strike mandate. The

membership responded, voting overwhelm-

ing in support of the Negotiating Commit-

tee. Notwithstanding, the Engagers per-

sisted in their demands for performers to

work for free on the Internet. On January

8, 2007, ACTRAmembers (except members

in British Columbia who work under the

BCMPA) went on strike for the first time

in the union’s 64-year history. And what a

unique strike it was! ACTRA unilaterally

published a version of the IPA under which

performers could work while on strike that

included a 3% increase in minimum fees

and all of the proposals presented by AC-

TRA in negotiations. On the first day of the

strike, producers lined up outside the AC-

TRA office to sign our promulgated agree-

ment to keep productions shooting. All

projects in production at the time of the

strike continued to shoot having signed

ACTRA’s temporary Agreement, and per-

formers enjoyed an increase in pay. Never

before (and likely never again) had any

union called a strike while the workers

continued working with a pay increase!

Canadian performers stood their ground

for seven weeks. On February 19, 2007, a

settlement was reached and the strike offi-

cially ended. By standing in solidarity, AC-

TRA members avoided devastating con-

cessions, and secured a collective agree-

ment that increased minimum fees by 3%

in each year of a three-year agreement as

well as payment for Use on the Internet.

ACTRA was the first performers’ union in

the world to establish minimum fees and

Use rights in entertainment product for

digital media.

The 2007 negotiations of the B.C. Master

Production Agreement (BCMPA) could have

been similarly challenging after producers

tabled Sideletter #9, a proposal that would

have significantly harmed B.C. performers.

The producers’ Sideletter #9 was a proposal

providing tiered discounts for lower-budget

films or the first two seasons of a TV show.

This Sideletter would have cut performers’

rates and Use fees, and reduced Insurance

& Retirement contributions. Concerned

about this proposal, a large contingent of

high-profile UBCP/ACTRAmembers joined

their bargaining team on the first day of

negotiations in a demonstration of solidar-

ity to show producers they would not ac-

cept these terms and would consider strike

action if necessary.

This collective show of strength caused

the producers to take the proposal off the

table and UBCP/ACTRA members avoided

what would have been a devastating change

to the BCMPA.

ACTRA has achieved additional world-

firsts in negotiations in other areas of pro-

duction as well.

We would not have been successful in sig-

nificantly improving our made-for digital

media Use rates in the last round of Nation-

al Commercial Agreement (NCA) bargaining

ACTRA was the

first performers’

union in the world

to establish minimum

fees and Use rights

in entertainment

product for digital

media.