Two months of mediation talks between ACTRA ((Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) and ICA (Institute of Canadian Agencies) have ended as their 17-month long dispute over working conditions, benefits, and competitive pay for commercial production performers continues.
Mediator Eli Gedalof concluded Monday that ”the parties are simply too far apart on issues that are fundamental to each, and that the conditions are not ripe for compromise at this time.”
Marie Kelly, ACTRA’s National Executive Director & Lead Negotiator, said in a release that while an eight per cent increase in fees is on the table, under terms of the ICA proposal performers would be taking a 50 to 60% pay decrease, compared to current National Commercial Agreement (NCA) rates.
“At a time when workers are struggling with record inflation and corporations are earning huge profits, its deplorable that these big advertising agencies are insisting on drastic pay cuts for some of the most precarious workers in Canada,” said Kelly.
ICA, which has been negotiating in partnership with the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA), said ACTRA refused almost all proposals presented.
“The problem we face today is of ACTRA’s making,” ICA said in its own statement. “ACTRA has created the dominance of the non-union performer sector with its manipulation of Article 3005, which opened a Canadian ‘backdoor’ into the National Commercial Agreement (NCA). In essence, ACTRA has allowed an opt-in/opt-out for non-signatory agencies, brands, and tech giants, thereby creating a significant competitive disadvantage for signatory agencies.”
“Unfortunately, because of the backdoor into the NCA, there now exists a dominant non-union talent pool that delivers the performances advertisers are happy with. And with no advertiser being a signatory to the NCA an advertiser is free to choose either union or non-union by choice of signatory or non-signatory agency,” the statement continued.
ICA says that if it was to sign the NCA deal ACTRA wants, the speed of exit by advertisers from union to non-union would accelerate dramatically.
ACTRA has been leading a boycott of brands it maintains are not paying union rates, including Wendy’s Canada, Sleep Country, Rogers, H&R Block, Canadian Tire and Home Hardware.
In addition to the 8% fee increase, the ICA proposal included an increase in digital fees; a pilot project to test bringing lower budget TV back to union members; an independent committee to investigate diversity, equity, and inclusion issues; and a jointly-funded campaign to protect performers and creatives against artificial intelligence (AI).
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