ACTRA says it will back SAG

Canuck union to sit in on negotiations

TORONTO — Canada’s actors union will be working closely with SAG and AFTRA during the strike negotiations, and in the event of a strike, Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) national executive director and chief negotiator Steve Waddell wants it to be known that ACTRA will be behind its U.S. brethren.

Waddell and ACTRA president Thor Bishopric have been invited to sit in on the negotiations between SAG/AFTRA and the AMPTP on Tuesday and Wednesday, and they will be attending on and off until the June 30 deadline.

SAG, AFTRA and ACTRA traditionally sit in on each others’ negotiations, said Waddell, to show support for one another and to stay on top of the issues for their members on either side of the border.

Canada’s actors have slightly different issues than those in the U.S., however, noted Waddell. There is no cap on foreign residuals in Canada, and ACTRA already has jurisdiction over Internet play.

And like siblings who must sometimes agree to disagree, ACTRA and its brethren to the South don’t see eye to eye on runaway production. “Having disagreed on those issues, we continue to maintain solidarity on a very fundamental level with SAG and AFTRA members,” Waddell said.

And while he’s optimistic that in the wake of the Writers’ Guild settlement an agreement will be reached, he says ACTRA’s willing to go to the wall with SAG and AFTRA.

If a strike is called, ACTRA will instruct its members not to work in any production that relocates to Canada. ACTRA’s own independent production agreement doesn’t expire until the end of the year, however, so those who produce under that agreement will continue to do so.

“We can’t withdraw services from producers who are already signed to our collective agreement,” notes Waddell. “Alliance Atlantis will continue to produce. Dufferin Gate and Pebble Hut will continue as they have in the past.”

ACTRA will be carefully checking out any new productions that come, in case it’s a relocated project incognito.

“That’s already happening,” says Waddell. “SAG in particular right now is looking at each production that’s going on outside of the U.S. where there are SAG members involved and determining whether or not it is a bona fide foreign production, because of the possibility (the production) might go past June 30.”

A thumbs-down from SAG is likely to result in the cold shoulder from ACTRA, as well. “We certainly will consult with them on these productions,” said Waddell. “We will have our input into the process, reviewing each one with SAG and making our determination.”