ACTRA and ICA fact-check each other in new statements

With no formal next steps in the ACTRA vs. ICA dispute over the National Commercial Agreement scheduled until October, the two sides fired new rhetorical salvos on Monday, each accusing the other of being less than truthful and providing their own facts about the dispute.

The ICA published what it called a fact check of “ACTRA misinformation,” while ACTRA published an open letter from national executive director Marie Kelly that provided numbers to counter an ICA claim, along with a statement of solidarity co-signed by a number of unions, and TAMAC, the Talent Agents & Managers Association of Canada.

(With the NCA stalemate likely to continue for a while, we created a new landing page for all of our stories, though this article provides a comprehensive overview of the dispute from late April.)

The ICA post presents six claims from the union it says are false, and then presents what it says are the facts.

For example, while ACTRA says the National Commercial Agreement is a collective agreement, ICA says it is not a collective agreement but a commercial agreement. ACTRA has filed dozens of grievances with the Ontario Labour Relations Board against a growing list of ad agencies. The ICA says if the NCA is a commercial agreement, the ACTRA “grievances will be found to be without merit.” That will have to wait until the Oct. 12 meeting to be resolved, though ACTRA is confident there is no uncertainty here, and the OLRB has jurisdiction.

On ACTRA’s claim that Canadian ad agencies are engaged in an illegal lockout of ACTRA talent, the ICA says its members want to work with ACTRA talent, and it’s the union preventing it from happening.

ICA also responded to the ACTRA claim that it is trying to “bust the union” with the demand its members be able to opt-in/opt-out of the agreement. This is the core issue at the heart of the dispute.

According to the ICA, ACTRA has been effectively giving opt-in and opt-out privileges to non-signatory agencies since 2007 through third party payroll companies. “The ICA wants its signatory agencies to have the same fair and equal access to ACTRA performers granted to non-signatories. One set of rules for everyone where everyone wins.” (Read the full ICA document here.)

ACTRA’s open letter was addressed to Leo Burnett president Ben Tarr, because his agency was the first targeted for ACTRA protests last week. At the time, Kelly said there was no specific reason for Leo Burnett to be first and that more protests at other agencies will follow.

In the letter (read it here), Kelly addresses the key claim that ACTRA has been allowing more and more non-signatory agencies and marketers to use ACTRA talent through the third-party payroll business. “You have been falsely told that signatory agencies like yours were being treated unfairly. Here are the facts,” she wrote.

ACTRA says that 90% of all commercial work done through the NCA is for signatory agencies, and another 7% is for U.S. agencies doing work in work in Canada—the reason the provision was introduced in the first place in 2007.

“Only 3% of the payroll is from non-adhered engagers—what we have all traditionally thought of as ‘recruits we’re working on,’” wrote Kelly. “ACTRA made proposals to address this group in bargaining but were ignored by your trade association.

Top Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

David Brown