The 3% Deduction
Another major bone of contention relates to deductions from the pay cheque. Full members have deductions from their cheques, which go towards a retirement plan, medical benefits, term life insurance and other benefits.
Section A3703 of the IPA refers to Equalization Payments and Deductions. The producers and ACTRA appear anxious to ensure that it does not cost production more or less for hiring an Apprentice member, so great care is exercised to make sure that Apprentices and members are treated as equals, where payment is concerned.
And yet this quest for equality does not extend to work or audition opportunities for Apprentices. We wonder why?
However, the permit fees (where applicable) and the 3% deduction from Apprentice cheques provide no tangible benefits for Apprentices. These deductions are not made so that Apprentices might see a benefit through an RRSP or retirement programme, but are made solely to ensure that production pays no more for an Apprentice than a full member.
We believe that such deductions, certainly of the 3% which is shown quite clearly on the cheques as "Retirement", are illegal and would not stand if tested in Court. Deductions cannot legally be made if there is not a corresponding benefit for the person from whose payment the deduction is made.
a) In order to equalize the payments and deductions in respect of ACTRA members and non-members, the Producer shall: (i) contribute an amount equal to 10% of the Gross Fees paid to each Performer who is not a member of ACTRA. Including those designated as Apprentice or temporary members, and work permittee (A Non-Member)…….
The purpose of including this clause is to show that despite clause A501 stating quite clearly that Apprentices are considered for the purposes of the IPA to be deemed "members", this section of the IPA puts Apprentices fairly and squarely under the heading of "Non members".
This is yet another blatant example of casting Apprentices in the role of "non members" when it suits either ACTRA or Production.
A3803: Deductions from Performer's Fees for Retirement:
The Producer shall deduct, for retirement purposes, an amount equal to 3% of the Gross Fees (inclusive of Use Fees) paid each Performer who is a member of ACTRA (excluding Apprentice Members), subject to articles A3804 and A 3805.
Here we have a clause which states quite specifically that the 3% is not to be deducted from Apprentice members, yet this is done. Regardless of the so-called "equalization" programme implemented by ACTRA and the Producers, the 3% deduction is contrary to Article A3803 of the IPA.
I am delighted to say that our efforts to effect some sort of change in this area have been very successful. The 3% "equalization" deduction will still be in place, but 100% of those deductions taken from Apprentice cheques in the two years prior to an Apprentice becoming a full member will be returned to Apprentices through a contribution to their retirement fund administered by Actra Fraternal.
This will take effect for any Apprentice becoming a full member after March 1st 2003.
Please note that the deductions are for the two years immediately prior to the Apprentice becoming a full member. If you have been an Apprentice for, say, 4 years, you will not be credited for any deductions taken in the first 2 years.
If you graduate from Apprentice to Full member within a two year period you will, effectively, receive back all the 3% deductions that were taken during your Apprentice days.