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SAG-AFTRA, ACTRA Partner on Unionization Initiative

Variety logo Variety 3/9/2017 Dave McNary
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Performers’ unions SAG-AFTRA and ACTRAare developing a joint plan to address non-union production in North America.

“Professional performers bring immense value to a production and it is crucial that they have strong union contracts protecting them,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “Globalization and technology change are issues affecting performers across North America. As the entertainment and media industry grows beyond traditional structures it is imperative that we respond.”

The #WorkingTogether initiative — announced on Thursday — calls for the performers’ unions to pool together resources to promote the value of union work to employers while increasing work opportunities for members.

“As our industry changes and grows we see new opportunities for unions to organize and grow,” said ACTRA National President Ferne Downey. “More than 90% of film and television produced in North America is under a union agreement, but a growing number of commercials are shooting non-union. That lowers working standards for performers across North America.”

SAG-AFTRA has about 165,000 members while ACTRA — the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists — has 23,000.

The initiative calls for cooperation between the two performers’ unions in ensuring employers live up to their commitment to produce only under a union agreement. The unions hope to attract new signatory agencies by demonstrating the value of producing with union performers.

Downey noted that some non-union commercials may have been shot by agencies that have signatory agreements with the unions, which would violate those agreements.

“Performers won’t tolerate a race to the bottom. Signatory agencies may have produced some of their commercials non-union in the recent past. ACTRA and SAG-AFTRA will work closely with signatory agencies to ensure all their future commercial production is under the appropriate union agreement,” Downey said.

SAG-AFTRA campaigned in 2015 and early 2016 against ad agency Droga5, alleging that it was using union performers for non-union work. The organization denied the allegations.

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