Actors and producers have a deal — again

A second tentative agreement, tweaked from last week's short-lived handshake deal, has been reached by both sides in the six-week ACTRA strike

ACTRA, the CFTPA and its sister APFTQ on Tuesday finalized terms on a tentative three-year deal to end Canada’s first-ever actors strike.

‘We’re both ecstatic. I’m recommending to my board in the morning that we sign on,’ said CFTPA joint negotiator John Barrack of the new IPA during a conference call Tuesday night with ACTRA chief negotiator Stephen Waddell.

‘Subject to ratification, we have a deal,’ Waddell added, underlining that his union’s job action remains in effect until all parties ratify the new accord.

ACTRA’s 21,000 members, who began their strike on Jan. 8, will receive a 9% wage increase to Jan. 1, 2009, with a 1% rise in retirement benefits in the first year of the new agreement.

The new deal also includes reformulated terms for new media residuals to accommodate U.S. studio concerns that dashed an early tentative deal on Feb. 16.

As part of the revised IPA deal, producers may choose either Option A or Option B to pay ACTRA members for performances that show up on the Internet or other new media. Option A will see actors receive a full daily rate for new media work, and then earn 3.6% of gross distribution revenues after six months of initial use. For old media converted to digital media, including TV shows, ACTRA members will this time receive a percentage of revenues from the first dollar.

Producers can also choose Option B, which allows negotiating with ACTRA on a production-by-production basis, setting minimum fees for Canadian actors.

The catch is, productions choosing Option B must be guaranteed by an approved distribution guarantor –¬ in other words, must be a U.S. studio shoot, without being designated by name as such in the IPA agreement.

The idea is to enable Hollywood studios and their affiliates to shoot in Canada without being boxed in during their upcoming contract talks with U.S. guilds and unions by the IPA terms on new media residuals.

For that concession, ACTRA secured a ‘reopener’ provision to allow the IPA signatories to revisit the new media residuals terms by Jan. 1, 2009 or after the Screen Actors Guild negotiates a new deal with U.S. producers.

The CFTPA, which bargained on behalf of the major studios through the IPA process, and APFTQ boards will vote on the proposed three-year accord this week, with their leadership recommending that it be accepted.

ACTRA is similarly urging ratification of the new pact, but will poll its members by mail in a process that could take up to six weeks.

No picket lines will come down, but ACTRA will suspend the continuation letters that spared the disruption of around 200 productions that kept shooting during the course of the strike

In addition, the CFTPA will withdraw its attempt through the courts to question the legality of ACTRA’s continuation letters, and its ability to hold a strike outside long-standing IPA protocols.