Andrew Baker is an LLB/BCL candidate at McGill University Faculty of Law.
Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) and ACTRA have recently formalized a strategic alliance agreement that outlines opportunities for mutual support on issues of common interest, and promotes solidarity and greater unity of purpose between the two labour unions.
The two unions are far from strangers, having worked together on many strategic initiatives in the past. For instance, ACTRA has provided contracted services to CFM and its assignees for collection and distribution of remuneration to its members of funds collected under the Copyright Act. The unions have also collaborated on numerous public policy issues having conducted joint presentations to parliamentary committees, government agencies, and the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The strategic agreement brings greater formality to joint CFM and ACTRA initiatives. It contains provisions to allow the two unions to pool resources as well as provide support for one another on issues of collective bargaining, organization, and public policy initiatives.
ACTRA is presently engaged in advocacy on several issues. The union advocates for increased Canadian content in broadcasting, reforms to copyright law to ensure fair compensation for artists, regulation on foreign ownership in Canada’s telecommunications industry, and greater public investment in cultural industries. On the copyright front, ACTRA presently urges the Canadian government:
“- To ratify the provisions of the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) by amending Canada’s Copyright Act to comply with the terms of the Treaties;
- To provide a full range of economic and moral rights for audiovisual performers in Canada’s Copyright Act; and
- To update and expand Canada’s private copying levy to apply to all technologies ordinarily used by Canadians for private copying purposes, so that performers are fairly compensated and consumers can copy works for their own personal use.”
It remains to be seen how exactly the terms of the partnership will impact the two unions’ lobbying efforts since the two unions already share many common policy goals. Ferne Downey, ACTRA’s National President commented that, “Our members work side-by-side, and in many cases – are members of both unions. It only makes sense that we would strengthen our bond and work closely together to promote our mutual interests.”
CFM is a distinct division of the American Federation of Musicians, United States and Canada. For 31 years CFM has provided support to professional musicians and counts over 17,000 active members in Canada.
ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is a national organization of professional performers working in English-language recorded media. ACTRA represents 22,000 members in Canada.