SAG/AFTRA supports Canadian union

ACTRA, which reps 21,000 performers, is eyeing strike

In a rare show of solidarity, SAG and AFTRA have sent out a joint statement throwing their support behind their sister actors union in Canada and its current stalemate in commercials contract talks.

"We applaud the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists for its efforts to be responsive to the changing needs of the advertising industry," the performers' unions said. "We believe that it is critical that the industry meets them halfway and ensures that ACTRA members receive just compensation for their creative performances and for their willingness to make modifications where appropriate."

ACTRA said Tuesday that it plans to poll its members regarding a possible strike in light of the deadlock that has continued between it and North American commercial producers.

The Canadian counterpart to SAG and AFTRA reps 21,000 performers. It said Tuesday that 17 months of negotiations with the National Commercial Agreement has yielded little progress.

Strike authorization ballots will be counted after an Oct. 14 deadline.

SAG and AFTRA have locked horns since the latter ended its joint-bargaining agreement in the primetime/TV contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. Since then, SAG has publicly criticized AFTRA in its decision to sever ties and its subsequent new contract with the studios.

In the meantime, talks between SAG and the AMPTP have stalled, though union leaders say behind talks continue outside of the negotiating unit's office. The AMPTP denies this and said its final offer is still on the table.

The two unions, however, agree that its members share the same concerns as ACTRA.

"In the event that ACTRA is forced to call a strike, AFTRA and SAG will take all actions legally possible to support striking ACTRA members, including instructing our members to refuse to accept any engagements from struck employees, particularly any attempts by those employers to relocate productions to the U.S. or other locations."

An ACTRA source said SAG's senior adviser John Maguire contacted the union to see what it could do to help. Separately, AFTRA national executive director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth also reached out to the Canadian union.

AFTRA and SAG also are on the cusp of negotiating a new commercials contract; however, the two unions have agreed to a six-month extension that will last through March 31.

Leslie Simmons reported from Los Angeles; Etan Vlessing reported from Toronto.