Canadian actors threatening strike action

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A strike threat is hanging over U.S. film and TV shoots in Canada after domestic actors said Thursday that they could take to picket lines to fend off North American producers' demands for steep pay cuts (HR 10/27).

Negotiations on a new Independent Production Agreement between ACTRA, which represents 21,000 domestic performers, and Canadian and U.S. producers broke off Wednesday, with the performers urging that a mediator be brought on board to end an apparent impasse.

ACTRA national executive director Stephen Waddell said Thursday that the call for formal conciliation was a necessary step before he could legally poll his membership on a possible strike.

"It starts the clock," Waddell said. "Our contract expires on Dec. 31, and you need conciliation to terminate the contract."

ACTRA also has promised labor peace for producers shooting north of the border if they sign a "continuation letter" and agree to pay unionized actors rates in line with current demands.

Talks got off to a rocky start Monday when actors were asked to take pay cuts of 10%-25% on minimum daily rates paid from film and TV productions shot here.

Producers also proposed reductions in overtime rates, turnaround times and producer contributions to insurance and retirement accounts, ACTRA said.

Waddell, whose membership called for a 15% raise in minimum rates over three years for homegrown shoots and a 40% jump over five years for U.S. productions in Canada, said his membership will never accept a rollback agreement.
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