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SAG strengthens ties with Canada’s ACTRA

The Screen Actors Guild has just strengthened its grip on productions shooting in Canada, having now authorized the largest actors union there to enforce SAG contracts with signatory companies shooting on Canadian soil.

As part of this new agreement between SAG and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema , Television & Radio Artists, both unions will begin monitoring the number of members who cross the border — both ways — to work.

“What we tried to do in working out a policing effort was to raise the level of cooperation between the unions to a higher level,” noted Ken Orsatti, SAG national executive director. “Prior to this, we had been processing immigration petitions from Canada in the same manner as with any other country.”

Now both unions will be reporting those figures to each other on an ongoing basis, namely to see if there is an equitable exchange taking place. They also will be reporting the figures to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service , which has given a thumbs-up to this new agreement.

“The idea was to see if there is an equitable exchange going on,” Orsatti said. “If there isn’t, then I’m certain that one union or the other will want to take another look at the exchange program.”

ACTRA will now be SAG’s official representative in Canada. They will be able to intervene in production problems, file claims and ensure that SAG signatory producers and their affiliates are adhering to the union’s agreements.

ACTRA, which has approximately 10,000-12,000 members nationally within Canada , has been fighting its own unions battles over the past two years after one of its locals decided to break off and form its own union, the Union of British Columbia Performers. It has decided to reunify with ACTRA by this time next year.

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