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November 7, 2007, 8:02am Report to Moderator
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Unions behind U.S. brethren
November 7th, 2007

The associations representing Canadian actors and screenwriters are showing solidarity with the striking Writers Guild of America, telling members they can't work for U.S. productions coming here to get around the work stoppage.

The U.S. guild, which represents 12,000 members, went on strike at 12:01 a.m. yesterday, the first such action in 19 years, after contract talks broke down with the U.S. film and television industry.

Stephen Waddell, national executive director of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), confirmed its 21,000 members would respect the U.S. strike, adding, "we will not perform in any ... production that comes to Canada to evade a strike."

Canadian-scripted shows won't be affected by the strike south of the border.

The Writers Guild of Canada issued a statement promising to support the U.S. strike "to the fullest extent possible" and directing members not to take work if approached by "an American engager."

"The issues the Writers Guild of America is addressing will affect every professional artist seeking compensation for their work in the digital age.

"Their fight is our fight," said Canadian guild president Rebecca Schechter in a statement.

ACTRA members endured a six-week strike earlier this year in large part over the same issues facing the U.S. screenwriters guild: rights to compensation for use of their work in digital media.

Waddell said members have ratified the only contract worldwide so far that confers minimum rates and user fees on digitial products, but expects compensation rates to increase once contracts are concluded with the three major U.S. film and television unions.

Meanwhile, about 300 ACTRA members picketed the annual Canadian Association of Broadcasters convention in Ottawa yesterday to protest the lack of Canadian content on TV particularly dramas since 1999, when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission dropped specific Canadian content and spending requirements.
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