Dear Members,
As I sit down to write this, I reflect on the past three years and ponder our future.  As performers we have been through a lot of uncertainty; COVID, the NCA lock-out and the strikes of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA.  This last year has been particularly difficult.  On average, performers’ income in 2023 was less than in the worst year of COVID–with no CERB to ease the pain.  Fortunately, through our partnership with the AFC they have been able to help many, assisting 122 UBCP/ACTRA members and providing them a total of $305,676 in emergency financial aid in 2023.  They are accepting applications again starting January 8, 2024 and I encourage those in need to apply, especially if you face eviction, foreclosure or having your utilities cut off.  Although the strikes are over, we are not out of the woods yet.
This is also true for our Union, as the various challenges of 2023 resulted in us closing the year with a significant financial deficit.  We are fortunate that we have over the years built up, through prudent management of our resources, a reserve that enabled us to maintain our infrastructure (which in large part is the collective wisdom and experience of long-standing staff) so as to be ready to respond to the industry starting up again and work returning for performers.  It is not lost on me that while we in one sense acted out of self-interest, in another we showed how we valued our staff by committing to stability in their working lives while many of us were experiencing just the opposite in ours.  I have no doubt that the staff recognizes this and will continue to serve us with the dedication they have always shown.

We have been fortunate in the outgoing executive board members who served us well through challenging times and contributed considerably through committee work, negotiations, and government lobbying.  Though the unspoken rule has always been, family first, work second and board service third, I know that this rule has oftentimes been pushed aside as union commitments sometimes take precedence. It is easy to overlook the fact that board members are volunteers, contributing freely of their energies and time. Our thanks to them as they return to and move on to other things in their lives.  I know several will continue to contribute through committee work and otherwise.

Many thanks to all who ran for office.  It is a high form of volunteerism to be willing to take on governance in a union.  Reading the candidates’ statements and listening at the All Candidates Meeting, I was struck by the quality of potential future leaders we have in our ranks.  I hope that you who ran will consider getting involved with committee work (if you are not already). Also, keep in mind that three years goes by quickly and there will be another election then.

As I look forward, I see that work is returning, gradually at first, as we ramp up again now the strikes have been settled.  Hopefully we will reach levels we are familiar with in the coming weeks but, of course, there are no guarantees. 

The next year will see us in preparation for bargaining the two largest collective agreements in the country, the British Columbia Master Production Agreement (BCMPA) and the Independent Production Agreement (IPA).  When we work in recorded media it is under the BCMPA in BC and the Yukon and the IPA in the rest of the country.  Since the Membership agreed to a roll-over of the BCMPA for one year, it means that the dates these two agreements terminate are closer than they have ever been; just three months apart—IPA December 31, 2024 and BCMPA March 31, 2025.  Fortunately, ACTRA has been fostering a collegial relationship with us and all the branches across the country, bringing  our connection to a point where it is now better than it has ever been. We can anticipate a strong partnership as we approach bargaining strategy together.  In the coming months we will be holding consultations with the various constituencies in UBCP/ACTRA to identify issues and areas of importance. These consultations will be your opportunity as Members to contribute to the process.

In the next month or so, the new Executive Board will be re-constituting our committees, and we have quite a few, so you might want to take a look on the website and see if there are any you might want to lend your energies and experience to. Committees are a vital part of this member-driven organization.  It is through committees that members make recommendations to the Executive Board for action.

So, here we go again.  I am very excited to be working with so many committed and talented new board members and grateful for the continuity of the four of us who return to the board as officers.  We will be busy, and a significant learning curve is to be expected.  We must be patient with each other as we assume the mantle of leadership.  

In solidarity,

Keith Martin Gordey
President, UBCP/ACTRA