5 things you need to know about the dispute between the ICA and ACTRA/ACA

5 things you need to know about the dispute between the ICA and ACTRA/ACA

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the breakdown in negotiations between the ICA and ACTRA/ACA aimed at creating a new National Commercial Agreement (NCA).  The issues at stake are critical to the long-term health of Canadian agencies and performing talent. Here are some of the key facts from the perspective of the ICA and its member agencies.

1 – The NCA is a contract, not a collective bargaining agreement. There is no union busting but ACTRA’s threats against ICA members are part of a deliberate attempt at agency busting.

2 – ICA agencies that previously signed and honoured the NCA with ACTRA were treated less favourably than agencies that did not sign the NCA. We think that is wrong. ACTRA and the ACA disagree.

3 – ACTRA allowed non-signatory agencies and in-house client agencies to opt in/opt out of the NCA at will – using ACTRA talent outside the terms of the NCA as they pleased. ICA signatory agencies were bound by the NCA with no exceptions, which raises the question: Why sign with a partner who gives non-partners a better deal than you get? Signatory agencies deserve equal rights to non-signatory agencies. (Yes, we had to re-read that sentence, too, but it’s true.) 

4 – The ICA was clear in its intent as a good faith negotiator that signatory agencies deserved the same opt in/opt out privileges that non-signatory agencies are getting to level the competitive playing field. We stayed to the very end of negotiations; we did not leave the table. ACTRA and the ACA then made a secret deal with each other to keep the status quo in place. The NCA is the same (except that the ICA is not party to it) and the issues of basic fairness and proper governance of an agreement remain unaddressed.

5 – It is no surprise that ACTRA talent also lose under the current NCA. They lose union scale when non-signatory agencies are permitted to work non-union. ICA agencies also lose the ability to provide ACTRA talent with union work when non-signatory agencies are allowed to undercut us by going non-union. Maybe ACTRA members need a union that protects their interests just like ICA agencies need a partner who honours the terms of a contract.

The ICA and its member agencies cannot stand by any longer and allow ACTRA to disrespect the NCA framework by sustaining such an unfair operating environment.  It is unfair to our agencies who want to work with ACTRA talent, and unfair for the ACTRA talent who have a long history of working with our agencies. It pains us to go through this issue, but the status quo is a wrong that needs to be set right.

For further information or advice, please contact Scott Knox, ICA President & CEO or go to