ACTRA, producers discuss new proposals

4:00 AM PST 12/21/2006 by Etan Vlessing, AP

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TORONTO -- North American producers holding down-to-the-wire talks with Canadian actors on a new labor deal placed a package of proposals on the table Wednesday in hopes they hope will avert an industry shutdown in January.

Representatives for the American producers, the Canadian Film and Television Production Assn. and Quebec producers associated with the Association de producteurs de films et de television du Quebec offered ACTRA bargainers a proposal that includes wage increases in return for concessions on other key monetary issues, including new media residuals, according to participants in the talks.

The producers said that their offer is aimed at getting both sides in the talks down to short strokes on a new contract for actors before the current agreement expires Dec. 31.

Bargainers for ACTRA, which represents 21,000 domestic performers, met late into the night to consider the producers' proposals, without resolution at press time.

"We're down to the wire, and we have some difficult issues on the table that we are attempting to get through," said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA's chief negotiator.

Waddell added that he did not believe the producers had placed their final offer on the table, holding out the prospect for additional talks later this week or next.

"We do have some time, but not a lot of time. This could be a long day," he added.

Barring an eleventh-hour breakthrough in negotiations over the next ten days, Canadian actors could go on strike in January.

ACTRA's membership last week voted overwhelmingly to strike if a new deal cannot be reached in time.

A work stoppage by ACTRA's membership -- the first-ever in the union's history -- would not apply to British Columbia, where producers have a separate agreement with the Union of B.C. Performers.
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