For more than 60 years, ACTRA performers have made commercials through a collective agreement called the National Commercial Agreement (NCA). It’s a gold standard for gig workers, providing higher rates, retirement contributions, and a multi-employer benefit plan.

ACTRA wasn’t the only member of the NCA. Some ad agencies (the ICA) and companies that commissioned ads (the ACA) also belonged. But earlier this year, during bargaining to renew the contract, the ICA made proposals it knew ACTRA would never accept:

  • A 60% cut to rates.
  • No retirement contributions.
  • An end to the multi-employer benefit plan.

Exactly as concern was growing about how precarious gig workers were treated in other sectors, like lift providers or food delivery people, the ICA wanted to lower wages and eliminate benefits for gig performers. It also wanted to use ACTRA talent when it felt like it—and not when it didn’t. When it failed, it locked-out ACTRA performers so its agencies could make non-union commercials instead.

Fortunately, the ACA did not agree and agreed to a one-year extension of the NCA with ACTRA until June 2023. Dozens of agencies signed continuance agreements so they could continue to use the top talent only ACTRA performers can provide. And A2C, which represents agencies in Quebec, also joined the NCA—which remains very much in effect.

Over the next year, ACTRA, the ACA, and A2C will be working to modernize and simplify the NCA. We’d welcome the ICA and its agencies to join us. And if they do, they won’t only be part of the modernization, they’ll again be able to access ACTRA performers to make commercials that get results.

We hope they do. Because there are consequences to following the ICA’s bad advice. ACTRA has filed a complaint of bargaining in bad faith at the Ontario Labour Relations Board. We’re taking action against agencies that have locked ACTRA performers out, filing more than 80 grievances. And we will continue to pressure them outside their offices, on-line, and in the media.

Our message to these agencies is clear. You cannot make proposals in bargaining that you know will never be accepted, then simply walk away from a collective agreement. That’s not how bargaining works. Issues within the industry should be dealt with through bargaining, and you can help modernize and simplify the NCA anytime.

And to ACTRA performers, your union will never stop fighting for the respect, rates, benefits, and retirement contributions you deserve.