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Brothers in arms

Canadian union sez nix U.S. work during strike

TORONTO — Canadian actors have been asked by their union to turn down U.S. work if their American brethren strike this summer, although the request carries no legal weight.

“No one wants a strike, but Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television & Radio Artists (ACTRA) members should be prepared to support U.S. performers in the event they’re pushed to the wall by the producers,” national executive director Steve Waddell told several hundred union members this week at a membership meeting.

Waddell said the declaration came in response to questions by ACTRA members about the impact of possible film-TV strikes by the Writers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. The WGA’s pact expires May 2, while the SAG/AFTRA agreement ends June 30.

Strike ‘serious’

ACTRA said in a news release that strikes by the U.S. union could have “serious consequences for the Canadian entertainment industry, at least in the short term.”

The recommendation, which is part of a reciprocal agreement with the U.S. unions, is similar to ACTRA’s advice to its 17,000 members during last year’s SAG/AFTRA strike against advertisers.

ACTRA asked members not to accept struck work, which meant non-union ads aimed at the U.S. market, but the recommendation was basically an appeal to members’ sense of solidarity since ACTRA was not on strike against Canadian commercial producers. As a result, many commercial producers shot ads with ACTRA performers during the strike.

ACTRA also held rallies in support of SAG and AFTRA and protested Buick’s non-union shoot with Tiger Woods near Toronto. Woods was fined $100,000 by SAG for strikebreaking.

Unofficial support

In the case of film and TV work, ACTRA is again in the position of being unable to stage a sympathy strike since its Independent Production Agreement with Canadian producers does not expire until the end of this year. But Waddell said he does not expect many U.S.-based producers to come to Canada if SAG and AFTRA strike.

“If SAG and AFTRA tell their members not to work on productions, Canada would not see a significant increase because the producers would not be able to get U.S. stars to work on them,” Waddell said.

Waddell also said he is hopeful that ACTRA will eventually be able to match contract expiration dates with SAG.

(Dave McNary in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)

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