By Stephanie Ciccarelli
January 8, 2007
With negotiations going on until 6:20 a.m., ACTRA walked out, disabling nearly 21,000 Canadian television and film performers overnight and grinding production to a halt for production companies across the country.
ACTRA, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, said January 3rd that they were going to strike on January 8th, 2007 if their demands were not met by producers.
As you may have guessed, things didn't go as ACTRA had hoped and now a random array of made-for-tv-movie and drama actors are walking the picket lines while their commercial counterparts are shooting in the studios.
Actors who are in productions affected by the strike were told not to go to work, even though the union was in midst of negotiations.
On January 7th, 2007, ACTRA posted the following strike conditions for members on their site:
"In the event of an ACTRA strike, performers are not to report to work, auditions or ADR on any IPA production that has not signed a continuation letter with ACTRA.
If ACTRA does go on strike, performers can still do work under other ACTRA contracts: UBCP, commercials, student films, broadcast agreements.
ACTRA By-Laws set out the rules for the conduct of ACTRA members during a strike. ACTRA members - including Full, Apprentice and ACTRA Extras - must not work for struck engagers during an ACTRA strike. Members are expected to know the strike rules and regulations, and are expected to uphold the strike. Any member who fails to adhere to the strike rules is subject to disciplinary action."
Some programs have special permission to keep filming, including the Rick Mercer Report and Royal Canadian Air Farce.
According to the CBC, ACTRA may get into hot water over this "wild cat" strike. This strike is grounds to take the union to court, sources say.
Now, you might be wondering what this is all about, eh?
ACTRA is striking over 2 issues.
First, they want a pay increase. Currently, ACTRA is 32% behind their American counterpart, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). ACTRA aims to get a wage increase between 10% - 15%.
Secondly, there's something about new media that needs to be taken care of. ACTRA is very concerned with how talent are to be compensated for the use of their work on the Internet which includes coverage on websites, podcasts and the like.
Talks actually broke while discussing this sensitive issue at 6:20 a.m. this morning.
Remember when DVDs came on the market? ACTRA does, and the organization is not prepared to see what happened to them back then repeat itself in 2007.
When DVDs first came out, there was significant doubt about the staying power and influence of the product with consumers. ACTRA was lead to believe that the reach of the DVD would not be great, so they agreed upon lower rates than would be expected if negotiated today.
Retrospective vision is 20/20 after all and history does repeat itself, hence the concern from ACTRA over the 'new media' phenomenon, a form of media consumption that is quickly becoming a standard means for PC users and owners of portable media players to enjoy their content.
Provinces that are affected by the ACTRA strike include Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. ACTRA will be on strike in Quebec on Wednesday, January 10, 2007. Other provinces will follow shortly after.
For more information, check the ACTRA website.
P.S. Click to read a personal message from ACTRA's National President Richard Hardacre.
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