A2C joins agreement with English actors’ union

The association representing agencies in Quebec will join negotiations for a new NCA over the next year.

The Association des agences de communication créative (A2C), the organization representing agencies in Quebec, has joined the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) in recognizing a new National Commercial Agreement for working with English talent in their ads.

The NCA is the document governing how brands and their agencies are to engage English-language actors and other performers for commercial work, covering 28,000 ACTRA members.

A new agreement was reached in April, and the deal came into effect on June 1 for a shorter-than-usual one-year term. The main change to the agreement was a 2% increase in rates, meant to give performers a much-needed pay raise while ACTRA and ACA continued negotiations around “modernizing and simplifying” the rest of the NCA.

Now that it is on board, an A2C representative will also be part of those negotiations over the next year. Though the A2C’s 80-plus members include several national and international agencies – such as Cossette, Ogilvy, FCB, Lg2, Sid Lee and Rethink – the agreement will only apply to their Quebec offices.

“This agreement will help ensure stability in Quebec’s commercial industry and facilitate fair and plentiful work for Quebec talent in addition of having a voice in modernizing the NCA,” said Dominique Villeneuve, president and CEO of A2C, in a statement.

The other major change in the NCA is that the ICA is no longer a co-administrator of the agreement. The ICA had been pushing for an opt-out provision it said would allow it to “level the playing field” with agencies it said had been able to operate outside the terms of the NCA, something ACTRA said it could not agree to, as it would allow agencies to decide when they would and would not agree to the deal’s terms. When a mediator declared an impasse after a new agreement could not be reached by the April 26 deadline, the ICA declared its position was that the NCA expired. ACTRA and the ACA, however, continued negotiations and reached the new deal. The ICA says it is not bound by the terms of the new deal, while ACTRA’s position is that the ICA is engaged in a lockout of its members.

That resulted in ACTRA filing a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board, alleging the ICA bargained in bad faith by demanding to reduce the scope of ACTRA’s bargaining rights to the point it created a deadlock.

The NCA only covers engaging performers in English. Relations with French-language performers are governed by a pair of agreements with the Union Des Artistes (UDA): the Internet and New Media Agreement (which expired in 2018) and the TV/Radio Agreement (which expired in 2015). Both agreements have remained in effect since they expired, though all parties agreed to “improvements” to TV/Radio Agreement in 2020.

Negotiations to renew both the Internet and New Media Agreement and the TV/Radio Agreement resumed in early May after being placed on hold during the pandemic. Those talks include the ICA, which comes together with the A2C and ACA to form the Association des Joint Producers and negotiate the deal.