Showbizreporting's Blog

June 3, 2009

Variety: SAG Mailing Out Ballots May 19 – Guild To Vote on Feature-Primetime Contract (APR. 29, 2009)

 

SAG mailing out ballots May 19

Guild to vote on feature-primetime contract

By DAVE MCNARY

 

SAG will mail out its feature-primetime contract ratification ballots to members May 19, with a return date of June 9. That means nearly a year will have passed between the time the ballots will be tallied and the June 30, 2008, expiration of the previous contract.

SAG originally said it would send out ballots in early May, but the guild needed more time to prepare the pro and con statements going out with the ballot to its 120,000 members.

The year of the contract impasse has been marked by explosive internal battles over the pact, between the hardline Membership First faction and a moderate coalition that gained a narrow majority on the national board in the fall — including January’s firing of national exec director Doug Allen for allegedly botching negotiations. The two sides are jockeying for political leverage in the next round of SAG elections in September, with Membership First bitterly opposing the deal.

SAG’s national board approved the two-year deal April 19 with a 53% endorsement. Backers touted the pact for keeping SAG in synch with the DGA, WGA and AFTRA expirations in 2011, and bringing about much-needed stability plus pay raises to thesps, along with blasting Membership First for being unrealistic in its aggressive approach to negotiations.

For its part, Membership First staged a demonstration Wednesday in Pasadena to protest the hiring of an outside PR firm, Saylor Co., to persuade members to approve the contract agreement. About 60 attended the event, including Tony Danza and former SAG president Ed Asner.

Opponents of the deal have asserted that the growth of new-media precludes accepting the same template as the WGA, DGA and AFTRA. They’ve contended that voting the deal down would force the congloms to offer SAG better terms — though the congloms have insisted for the past year that they will not sweeten the deal.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118003002.html

From AFTRA themselves (APR. 23, 2009)


April 2009

Joint AFTRA and SAG National Board of Directors Approves New Commercials Contracts for Ratification

Meeting by videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York, the Joint SAG-AFTRA National Board today voted unanimously to approve and recommend to members, new three-year successor agreements to the 2006 AFTRA Television and Radio Commercials Contracts and the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Television Commercials Contract.

The proposed agreements, which cover performers working in commercials made for and reused on television, radio, the Internet, and new media, will net a three-year increase in payments to performers totaling an estimated $36 million, including approximately $21 million in increased contributions to the SAG Pension & Health and AFTRA Health & Retirement plans. The total combined value of the AFTRA and SAG contracts is projected at more than $2.9 billion for working performers, including actors, singers, dancers, choreographers, stunt persons, and extras.

Additionally, the new contracts contain an agreement in principle outlining terms for a pilot study for the purpose of testing the Gross Rating Points (GRP) model of restructuring compensation to performers as proposed by Booz & Co. The two-year study will be conducted by a jointly retained consultant engaged by the unions and the industry. The study will be paid for by grants from Screen Actors Guild-Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund (IACF) and the AFTRA-Industry Cooperative Fund (AICF).

The unions also successfully established a first-ever payment structure in commercials for the Internet and other new media platforms. The unions established jurisdiction over commercial work made for the Internet in 2000, and new media formats in 2006. The new payment structure goes into effect in the third year of the contract.

The referendum will be mailed to the members of both unions next week (dual SAG and AFTRA members will receive one ballot) with a return date in mid-May. Results will be announced at that time.

Following the vote, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and AFTRA Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee said: “Our new agreement is a major achievement in any economy, but it is especially crucial for union members working to make ends meet in today’s difficult marketplace. I applaud the vision and hard work of the joint committee who worked together to win increases both in performers’ minimum compensation and in employer contributions to our health and pension plans, and who successfully preserved Class A payments so critically important to our members around the country.”

Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg said: “I am pleased and gratified to have achieved these gains and to recommend this agreement for ratification. I congratulate all of the parties, and particularly the co-chairs, committee members and staff on the remarkable gains they achieved for actors across the country.”

“It’s a solid agreement with meaningful gains,” said Screen Actors Guild Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee Sue-Anne Morrow. “There are significant improvements in compensation and benefits for union commercial actors and it gives the industry, including our members, a measure of financial certainty in an uncertain economy. It also guarantees advertisers continued access to the finest actors in the world on whose talent their brand success often rests. It’s a win for actors, a win for the industry, and a win for consumers.”

Screen Actors Guild Chief Negotiator John McGuire, a veteran of more than 10 separate commercials contracts negotiations said: “This is an agreement we can all be proud of and I look forward to ratification by the members of Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. I commend the negotiating committee chairs, co-chairs, and members, along with my colleagues Ray Rodriguez, Screen Actors Guild’s Deputy National Executive Director of Contracts, and Mathis Dunn, AFTRA’s Chief Negotiator.”

“This is a successful conclusion to a challenging negotiation, conducted during a difficult economic and technological time in the industry. As always, that success rests with the members of our joint committee, our staff and our counterparts at the Joint Policy Committee. Together, we served the interests of actors and the industry,” McGuire added.

AFTRA Assistant National Executive Director Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., who served as AFTRA Chief Negotiator, noted: “I commend all of our union members who participated in the many educational, informational, and wages and working conditions meetings leading up to these negotiations. They delivered a clear message to our joint negotiating committee on their priority issues. I am proud to say that we delivered on these priorities and much more. The agreement will enhance the careers of all working performers today, and protect future generations of union members as technology and consumer tastes shift in the radically changing world of new media.”

Highlights of the new agreement include:

Three-year agreement, term effective April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012, upon ratification by members of both unions.
5.5% overall increase in wages and other compensation over the life of the contracts, including a 4.43% increase, effective April 1, 2009, in Class A, Wild Spot, and basic cable session and use fees.
For product moved over to the Internet or in New Media, compensation of 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 weeks of use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use.
For product made for the Internet or New Media, a new minimum rate structure of 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 weeks of use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use, effective in the third year of the contract.
0.5% increases in the employer contribution rate to the AFTRA H&R and SAG P&H plans, and a 0.2% increase in employer contributions to the SAG Industry Advancement Cooperative Fund and the AFTRA-Industry Cooperative Fund, bringing the total contribution rate to 15.5%. Effective in year three, the agreement provides for a cap on P&H and H&R contributions for services covered by the contracts to $1 million per performer, per contract, per year with anticipated net gains in P&H and H&R over the term of the contract.
Secured five new covered jobs for commercial extras, up from 40 to 45.
Established new exclusivity compensation for made-for cable only commercials.
Instituted, for the first time, a contract provision to pay extras a round-trip mileage fee of $8.
Increased foreign use payments under the Spanish Language section of the contract.
The across the board increase under the AFTRA Radio Commercials Contract is 5.35%, in addition to contributions to AFTRA H&R and the AICF.
All of the unions’ proposals regarding diversity issues were addressed in the negotiations.
AFTRA and SAG joint member education and informational meetings will be conducted around the nation to provide members with an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the new agreements prior to voting.

Formal negotiations between the 26-member AFTRA/SAG Joint Negotiating Committee and the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) began on February 23 and concluded on the morning of April 1 in New York City.

About AFTRA
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audiobooks, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet, and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society.

About SAG
Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 actors who work in film, television, industrials, commercials, video games, music videos and other new media. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles.

June 2, 2009

AFTRA/SAG Commercial Agreement (APR. 1, 2009)


AFTRA AND SAG REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT WITH ADVERTISING INDUSTRY ON NEW COMMERCIALS CONTRACTS

NEW YORK (APRIL 1, 2009)—Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced today that the AFTRA/SAG Joint Negotiating Committee has reached a unanimous tentative agreement with the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) on terms for successor agreements to the AFTRA Television and Radio Commercials Contracts and the SAG Television Commercials Contract, subject to approval by the SAG/AFTRA Joint National Board.

 

The new three-year agreement contains a more than $36 million increase in wage rates and other payments for all categories of performers in the first year of the contracts, approximately $21 million in increased contributions to the SAG Pension and Health Plan and the AFTRA Health and Retirement Fund, establishment of a payment structure for work made for the Internet and other New Media platforms, important new monitoring provisions, and improvements for choreographers, extras, and Spanish language performers.

The new contracts also contain an agreement in principle outlining terms for a pilot study for the purpose of testing the Gross Rating Points (GRP) model of restructuring compensation to performers as proposed by Booz & Co. The two-year study is scheduled to commence on April 15 and will be conducted by a jointly retained consultant engaged by the Unions and the Industry. The results and possible adoption of the study’s findings will be subject to negotiation by the parties not later than January 3, 2012.

The unions successfully protected the critical “Class A” payment structure and continued unchanged the editing provisions in the existing contract.

Highlights of the new agreement include:

•    Three-year agreement, term effective April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012
•    5.1% overall increase in wages and other compensation over the life of the contracts, including a 4.43% increase, effective April 1, 2009, in Class A, Wild Spot, and basic cable session fees
•    For product made for the Internet or in New Media, 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 week’s use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use
•    0.5% increase in the employer contribution rate to the AFTRA H&R and SAG P&H plans bringing the total contribution rate to 15.3%. The agreement provides for a cap on P&H and H&W contributions, but the committee successfully negotiated the industry from their initial demand of $250,000 to $1,000,000 per performer, per contract, per year.
•    Secured five, new covered jobs for commercial extras, up from 40 to 45
•    Established new exclusivity provisions for made-for cable only commercials
•    Instituted, for the first time, a contract provision to pay extras a round-trip mileage fee of $8
•    Increased foreign use payments under the Spanish Language section of the contract

“The AFTRA and SAG commercials contracts provide our members with the solid foundation they need to sustain their careers and families,” observed AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and AFTRA Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee. “In this round of negotiations, during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we successfully improved wages and expanded benefits to keep our members working now and in the future. This is a major victory for our unions—and a victory for organized labor as a whole—and I applaud the Joint Negotiating Committee for their vision, hard work, and solidarity.”

“I am so proud of the work of our Joint Negotiating Committee. It was a hard-fought negotiation and our greatest victory was in protecting Class A residuals payments.  By securing a joint study to research and develop a workable compensation model, our negotiating committee protected every member who works under these contracts across the country,” said Sue-Anne Morrow, Screen Actors Guild Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee.

“Our Joint Negotiating Committee held together in the face of some very tough issues and they stood firm for our core principles.  We have achieved a deal that brings significant improvements to these contracts. Our gains include establishing the first-ever payment structure for made-for-the Internet and new media commercials and significant increases in wages during a very troubled global economy. I am proud to take this tentative deal to our Joint National Board,” said John T. McGuire, Screen Actors Guild Chief Negotiator.

“The Joint Negotiating Committee provided us with clear objectives borne out of the nationwide Wages and Working conditions meetings leading up to the negotiations,” said Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., Chief Negotiator for AFTRA and Assistant National Executive Director for Commercials, Non-Broadcast, and Interactive Media.“ Among the priorities, our members asked us to increase minimum compensation and preserve Class A. We achieved those objectives and more, including agreement on a test study that will allow for a meaningful exploration of how best to adapt our contracts to meet the changing needs of all performers working in the shifting landscape of new technology.”

Formal negotiations between the 26-member AFTRA/SAG Joint Negotiating Committee and the Industry began on February 23 and concluded on the morning of April 1 in New York City.

Details of the new agreement will be submitted to the SAG/AFTRA Joint National Board for approval at a date to be determined, and if approved, will be jointly mailed to the membership of both unions for ratification thereafter.

Someone’s opinion over the events that progressed since April 2008 (FEB. 14, 2009)

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 3:31 pm
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This is someone’s opinion. This is neither nor fiction. This is just someone’s opinion on matters at hand.


I am very pleased to report that the AFTRA New Media deal is well at work bringing productions that would otherwise have been non-union into jurisdiction.  There is nothing so useful as actual case-history unfolding before our eyes.

 

What follows is a report of new web-series currently in production.  As I mentioned, I do not have the resources of time to produce a video.  However, God bless actor David Lawrence who answers the “elephant” video better than I in a video response.  The link to David’s video follows my brief blog:

A producer reports that they are in the middle of producing several web series, each with 5 to 10 episodes a piece.  The content mirrors reality or variety t.v., with low-key product placement.  Although not a national signatory to the Net Code, the producer looked at the AFTRA language prior to commencing production.  They realized that even with their very low budgets, these productions would be above the per-minute budget to qualify for the Experimental waiver.  And, even though the shows are using real people or amateur performers, most of the shows would also end up using at least one Covered Performer – again, making the show ineligible for the waiver.
 
The producer – someone with whom we bargain (not a student making a film) ended up signing the Net Code and has been hiring a several actors for these series under AFTRA contracts.  The wages are 100% negotiable, but they’ve been reasonable.  Contributions are going into the AFTRA Health & Retirement funds.  Payments are being made on-time, since timely payment still applies to New Media production.  Instead of pushing this totally non-union, AFTRA has brought the production under their umbrella, even in a production that used primarily non-union performers.  Hello – we win.  AFTRA performers have more opportunities, contributions are made to our pension fund, and we are another step closer to the practice of jurisdiction in New Media becoming the standard. 

We must set a standard of giving our employers realistic choices that will encourage them to do things above board.  It protects everyone, including them.

Please understand what contract negotiators know first hand – contracts are enriched over years.  We have to start somewhere – and though certainly not perfect – at least AFTRA has made a real start.  We can not afford to let New Media go to the wind the way we did cable; and we are still in danger of that if we do not find a way to circle the wagons.  I do not envy our SAG negotiators going into meetings next week.  I do not believe it is going to be an easy path back to the deal that the AMPTP negotiated with AFTRA. 

Now: here is the link to David’s video.  Big thanks to him for stepping up to the camera and giving an actual account:

One more thing that has been bugging me – it has been said that Alan Rosenberg tried to unite the Guild by visiting branches and that “no other SAG president ever visited the branches” like Alan.  PULEASE.  I can name three who did.

And while Alan might have made a show of trying to unite the Guild – he worked against uniting all actors into one union.  Which is the only – only – only answer to the question — how the hell are we going to hold onto New Media.

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