The ICA disappointed by ACTRA’s refusal to modernize its National Commercial Agreement (NCA) during OLRB Mediation

The ICA disappointed by ACTRA’s refusal to modernize its National Commercial Agreement (NCA) during OLRB Mediation

Mediation sessions failed to resolve the ongoing dispute between the ICA and ACTRA after the union refused ICA’s offer to return to the bargaining table and instead demanded ICA agencies re-sign, without changes, the outdated and expired NCA from April 2022. 

The sessions had been proposed by ACTRA within the context of its application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). The OLRB application is part of ACTRA’s pressure campaign to resist changes to the old NCA.  Significant changes are needed to modernize working conditions and provide ICA agencies the same fair and equal access to ACTRA performers granted by ACTRA to non-signatory agencies. (See: ICA Fact Checks ACTRA Misinformation).

It is deplorable that ACTRA continues to disrupt opportunities for its members to work in advertising while spreading misinformation about the issues.  ACTRA is continuing with its bad faith attempt to force agencies that were formerly signatory to the NCA to accept a status quo for the industry that is a disadvantage for all stakeholders with the exception of non-signatory agencies who can continue to work mostly non-union and are allowed to access ACTRA members when they please.

said Scott Knox, President and CEO of the Institute of Canadian Agencies. 

ICA member agencies value our many long-standing relationships with ACTRA performers; these performers continue to lose opportunities because ACTRA refuses to permit them to work with ICA agencies during this dispute while falsely claiming they are locked-out.

The ICA offered the following proposals in mediation in an effort to modernize the NCA and place signatory agencies on a level playing field with non-signatory agencies, in-house client agencies and media companies:

  • Provide fair and equal access to all to the NCA
  • Accept ACTRA’s position to pay an extra 2% on renewals and dormancy to performers
  • Decouple production from creative to open direct client access to union talent – this would result in ICA agencies losing the revenue for production work during an interim period while the parties try to agree on a new and much improved NCA
  • Removal of systemic barriers for diverse performers to increase opportunities and open more global production

All of the above are important steps needed to modernize the NCA and reverse recent declines in unionized production that impact agencies and performing talent alike. The ICA’s initiatives on diversity are especially important because BIPOC performers are poorly represented in ACTRA ranks. Casting Directors report that 70% of their requests for BIPOC talent cannot be met by ACTRA with its current membership. A minimum union fee of $1600 is a significant barrier to performers early in their career, which discourages diversity in ACTRA’s membership. ACTRA’s response to the need for more openness has been to recently change its by-laws to restrict ratification votes first to only 1,800 of its 28,000-person membership base and then to restrict them further last week to only its 30-member National Council.

We believe a new NCA is required to make performing more open and accessible to everyone and to make the production of world class Canadian advertising fair and equitable for all agencies.

said Knox. 

I am personally shocked that after all the claims ACTRA and the ACA have made about working to modernize the NCA since April that ACTRA would show up at a mediation they requested with a closed mind and no new proposals. Their members deserve better.  We are no closer to a resolution now than we were on April 25, 2022

The ICA will continue to advocate for a modern NCA, and resist ACTRA’s pressure campaign aimed at returning to an unfair and broken status quo of the old NCA.  The ICA will return to the bargaining table with no pre-conditions other than to let ACTRA members profit from renewals and dormancy, and to work directly for advertisers through third parties who are signatory to ACTRA.  ICA and its agency members offer stability for now in an effort to achieve – through negotiations with ACTRA – stability and opportunity for years to come.

For more information on this and anything related to the ACTRA dispute contact Scott Knox, ICA, President & CEO