SAG-AFTRA targets Ontario neighbour as studio shoot destination

The union slams Michigan over proposed "right-to-work" legislation, marking another change in fortune for the once-strong competitor to Ontario for studio location shooting.
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How fortunes change: Michigan, a once-formidable rival to the Canadian production sector, has become a target of American actors after being made a “right-to-work” state.

“SAG-AFTRA urges Michigan residents to immediately call their senators and representatives and urge them to stop this bill from passing,” SAG-AFTRA, the Hollywood actors union, urged its members Friday in a statement.

The union call follows Michigan’s House and Senate passing bills to make it illegal for unions to receive dues from non-union workers.

“‘Right-to-work’ laws allow non-members to work under union contracts and enjoy all of the benefits of those union contracts without paying for the union’s services,” SAG-AFTRA said in its appeal to its membership.

The labour friction in Michigan follows the border U.S. state putting a cap on its film tax credit to help balance its budget, a move that sent once-bustling Hollywood film and TV production elsewhere.

The drastic decline in film incentives for Michigan only helped neighbouring Ontario and other Canadian jurisdictions to preach stability north of the border, compared to the tax credit chill in rival U.S. locales.

In 2009, Michigan had unveiled plans to open a mega-studio in Pontiac, just 40 KM from the border at Windsor, Ont., in a bid to win Hollywood film work away from Canada.