Canuck union disrupts SAG plans

UBCP demands actors join guild or pay 50% premium

HOLLYWOOD — SAG’s attempt to beef up contract enforcement beyond the U.S. border may have hit a roadblock in Canada thrown up by another union.

The Vancouver-based Union of B.C. Performers has been notifying SAG members who have worked in Canada that they must either join the union by Sept. 27 or pay a 50% premium on all future work permits.

The UBCP has been sending out the notices signed by prexy John Juliani in recent weeks. Although union officials refused to comment, the action by the UBCP appears to be a serious disincentive to hiring SAG performers for work in Canada.

Although the UBCP is the British Columbia branch of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists, its move appears to be at odds with ACTRA’s previous pledges to support SAG’s efforts on its Global Rule One campaign. That SAG initiative, which launched May 1, is designed to ensure that SAG members work under SAG terms and conditions on foreign-based projects aimed for the U.S. market.

SAG has insisted that it is receiving cooperation from all English-speaking performers unions on Rule One, under which members will face disciplinary action if they work for nonsignatory producers on foreign projects aimed at the U.S. market. SAG has estimated that such a step adds an average of 3% to overall budgets.

ACTRA officials announced last May that shoots within Canada fall under ACTRA jurisdiction but also asserted that it would permit SAG members to work in Canada with individual contracts incorporating SAG’s terms and conditions.

SAG has argued that the enforcement of Rule One is critical to provide funds to the SAG-industry health plan, claiming that potential contributions to the plan have fallen $23 million short in the last five years due to SAG members’ work on non-union contracts overseas.

The plan, jointly administered by reps of SAG and the studios, announced last week that skyrocketing medical costs had forced trustees to implement a second round of tightened eligibility requirements and benefit reductions following the initial August 2001 announcement.

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