Monday, January 26, 2015

Renewed Reciprocal Agreement signed with ACTRA

Equity Council is pleased to announce an update to the longstanding Reciprocal Agreement with the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA). A joint committee of ACTRA and Equity Councillors met to sign the updated document on December 8, exactly forty-three years to the day after the original agreement went into effect.

The new version generally simplifies the language and tidies up some loose ends. More significantly, it also removes the reciprocal joining requirement, so that members of one association working in the jurisdiction of the other now have access to the full range of member or permit options that would ordinarily apply to whichever engagement they may be involved in.

Going forward, ACTRA members will be eligible for permit engagement under our joining programme when doing initial contracts in theatre. This change will offer ACTRA performers, new to the professional stage, the opportunity to build experience in live performance and familiarity with Equity engagements before committing to membership. The specific terms of engagement will depend on what is available for the contract in question, and not on ACTRA membership.

Note that some engagement policies, such as the Artists' Collective, do not require joining for non-members to participate. Equity has historically excluded these engagements from the Reciprocal Agreement joining requirement anyway, so the change only serves to formalise what has long been the case.

ACTRA members can get more information on their engagement options for a given contract by contacting either Equity office.

ACTRA and Equity have enjoyed a long and collaborative relationship, and this renewed commitment to reciprocal recognition and assistance is designed to serve our memberships well into the future. Both national Councils have also committed to ongoing discussions aimed at greater opportunities for connection and collaboration, including the upcoming review of our Strategic Alliance, which generally covers all matters of joint advocacy.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Council Elections - Looking for your input

Council is currently in planning mode for the next round of elections this fall, and we have an idea on which we'd like your input. In short, we're considering a return to rotating elections, where we would renew Council over the course of several years, instead of all at once.

The winter EQ should be arriving in your mailbox or inbox any day now, and there is more information provided in that issue. Please give it a read, and get in touch if you have any ideas or concerns you'd like to share.

Nothing is decided yet, but we do need to get moving on any changes within the next few months. It's your association, so please take the time to help us make it better.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Working in an Educational Setting

At its November meeting, Council concluded work on changes to how members may be contracted while working as educators at post-secondary institutions.

Equity has long excluded members working as educators from the requirement of being signed to an Equity contract, since teaching, even by an Equity member, is not within our jurisdiction. In most cases the division was quite clear. For example, a stage manager, SMing a show at a university, was quite clearly doing a job within Equity's jurisdiction, and expected to be hired under an Equity contract. The same member, however, serving as a coach to a student SM on a university show was quite clearly working in a teaching capacity, and could therefore be contracted under a suitable instructor's contract.

When the Directors, Choreographers and Fight Directors Committee brought the topic forward to Council for consideration, they pointed out that members working in those disciplines frequently had to manage both Equity and teaching responsibilities, e.g. directing a show and also doing a scene study class and grading students on their work.

In these dual-nature jobs, the contracting requirement was frequently a matter of some tension with the school. Existing unions within the educational institution, for instance, might prohibit the hiring of instructors on the contracts of another professional association. Or issues of bonding or prepayment might be administratively challenging for organisations that did not work that way for any other hires. In reviewing the matter, Council elected to open the discussion up to cover all disciplines, so that there would be consistent handling of post-secondary educational contracts for all members. 

Beginning this year, when working within the post-secondary educational sector primarily as educators, members may choose to be hired under either an Equity agreement or a teaching contract, letter of agreement or other document provided by the institution that provides at least the core workplace benefits and protections set out in our policies. We anticipate that this will relieve most of the issues. It will ensure that all members have basic workplace protections, and those members able to use Equity contracts will have access to those additional benefits as well.

Councillors and staff will be preparing an information bulletin on this later in year, but we wanted to give everyone a heads up on the change.