Canadian Actors Ratify New Labor Deal With North American Producers

Courtesy of ACTRA

ACTRA has included new language for auditions and on-set filming to protect its members and combat sexual harassment as it renews its Independent Production Agreement for three years.

Canada's actors union ACTRA has ratified a new three-year labor deal with Canadian and U.S. producers that includes new language to protect its members and confront sexual harassment on and off the set.

ACTRA members voted 85.8 percent in favor of the new Independent Production Agreement, which offers a rate increase of 9 percent over the three-year term to run to Dec. 31, 2021. The IPA also reveals a new sensitivity and complaint procedures to tackle sexual harassment in the wake of the #MeToo era.

The latest labor deal, for example, newly defines sexual harassment in the workplace as "unwanted conduct, or a course of conduct, of a sexual nature made by a person who knows or ought reasonably to have known that such conduct is unwanted." The existing IPA, which runs through to Dec. 31, defines sexual harassment as "unwanted sexual attention," as opposed to conduct.

"The producer shall use its best efforts to maintain a working environment that is free from discrimination, harassment (which includes sexual, racial, or personal harassment), and violence," the new labor deal adds. The latest IPA lays down the legal obligations of ACTRA members, their union representatives and North American producers to allow actors to safely report workplace harassment.

That includes a continuing closed-door adjudicatory process to protect the identity of alleged harassers. "The producer shall take immediate steps to investigate a complaint brought to its attention in as discreet and confidential a manner as possible, and to take appropriate action, up to and including dismissal, against any person found to have violated this article," the new IPA stipulates.

The Canadian Media Producers Association negotiates the IPA, which governs workplace rates and conditions for unionized actors in Canada, on behalf of the major studios, and top studio executives are consulted before a final settlement is agreed on by all sides. American producers who shoot in Canada become signatories to the IPA.

The latest multiyear deal also has new language for auditions and filming on sets, where sexual harassment has occurred. For example, no performers will be required to provide a nude photo ahead of an audition, or appear nude or semi-nude "until after having been auditioned" and been told "with as much information as possible" what will be expected of them.

The latest IPA also adds that auditions will not be allowed in hotel rooms "where the performer is alone with a representative of production." The new agreement will take effect Jan. 1.

The IPA does not apply in British Columbia, where U.S. producers shoot under a separate labor agreement negotiated by ACTRA's local affiliate, UBCP/ACTRA.