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June 9, 2005

Gunderson, Kennedy And Eisenberg Represent Equity At May Meeting Of FIA North American Group In Toronto

Eastern Regional Vice President Arne Gunderson, Central Regional Vice President Dev Kennedy and Executive Director Alan Eisenberg attended the May meeting of the Federation Internationale des Acteurs (FIA) North American Group, a division of FIA, an international body that represents trade unions and associations of actors, singers, dancers and performers throughout the world.

The conference brought together representatives from Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio (ACTRA), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA), FIA, Australia’s Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG) and Union des Artistes (UDA). The representatives reported on each union or guild’s activities and shared perspectives on issues of special interest to the attendees.

Mr. Eisenberg reported on the completion of contract negotiations for the Production Contract and the LORT agreement during the last year. Equity has made significant strides on issues concerning workplace safety in two recent contracts and is working on renewing an agreement with agents. He also commented that Equity’s health plan is facing substantial cost increases. Under “new initiatives,” Eisenberg said the Union was looking into ways to raise the profile of Actors’ Equity among key constituents. He also spoke of the potential of a stronger strategic alliance among the four unions in the United States.

“Participation in these meetings is important for Actors’ Equity for a number of reasons,” said Eisenberg. “It gives us the opportunity to share experiences and strengthen ties with our sister unions. It also gives us the chance to hear about issues other unions face, and how they solve those problems. This kind of exchange brings fresh ideas and new thinking to topics important to Equity.”

Reports from the other unions included updates on negotiations, strikes and boycotts, legislative issues, internal governance and strategic alliances with unions outside of the entertainment business. Mexican dubbing performer Rebecca Patino made a special guest appearance to speak to the FIANA Group about the strike of dubbing performers against the company that dubs “The Simpsons” into Spanish in Mexico.

ACTRA’s representative spoke about the Union’s strategies for raising culture issues in the pending federal election and discussed its new Strategic Alliance with the United Steelworkers. AFTRA reported on the continuing battle with Spanish language broadcaster Telemundo and well as the renegotiated Network Code in which insurance contributions was a key issue. The status of the current Interactive negotiations and upcoming negotiations with four major sound studios and next year’s Commercials Agreement was also discussed. AFTRA is looking into issues relative to pension reform and examining a major change in its governance structure

CAEA described efforts on a variety of topics including the boycott of the BLUE MAN GROUP, the tax status of independent contractors, and funding for the arts. Internally, CAEA has drastically altered its governance structure. CAEA has also paired with the Nambian actors union and an exchange of staff is being planned. MEAA announced that recent federal elections in Australia may lead to a loosening of cross-media ownership rules and could negatively impact the general right of access of unions to the worksite. UDA reported that a strike against Quebec theaters earlier this year resulted in payment to performers for rehearsals and that the Montreal Symphony is currently on strike. The union also advised the group that an agreement with the Quebec music industry had been successfully completed.

A discussion was held on various items that would be on the agenda at the upcoming FIA Executive Meeting that will be held in Sydney, Australia later in the year. It was determined that an international meeting on live performance would be beneficial and Mr. Eisenberg volunteered to co-chair the working group with Susan Wallace of CAEA. Together, they will gather pertinent information on safety issues from FIA members worldwide.

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