Showbizreporting's Blog

October 15, 2009

Required Reading

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 11:34 am
Tags: , , , ,

Subject: Can two unions/companies/groups, etc. merge?

This is required reading for all SAG and AFTRA members.

Why It’s Time to Retire the 401k – TIME
http://www.facebook.com/l/d5ca7;www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1929119,00.html?artId=1929119?contType=article?chn=bizTech

Can two entities like SAG and AFTRA merge? Of course. Anything is possible.

Go into that merger knowing, however, that there will be tradeoffs.

It is the responsibility of SAG and AFTRA leadership to educate the membership on the potential gains as well as the potential concessions that go with any kind of merger.

This article in the latest TIME magazine is a good place to start.

Short background: SAG and AFTRA currently have Defined Benefit (DB) pension plans. A merger likely ends those plans and moves everyone not already retired to some combination of either a DB/DC plan (hybrid) or a straight DC (Defined Contribution plan–like a 401K or IRA).

This article gives us a glimpse of the possible future.

STAY INFORMED

Anthony Thomas Desantis Iii sent a message to the members of SAG USA.

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Subject: Re-pasted link and a short response to a question.

Re-Pasted Link
http://www.facebook.com/l/d5ca7;www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1929119,00.html?artId=1929119?contType=article?chn=bizTech

Question: Wwhy does a merger likely mean an end to DB?

My brief answer: There have been almost no new DB plans opened in the past 5 years in the entire world. When two entities like SAG and AFTRA join, they do not so much merge the plans as close the old one and start a new one. There are always exceptions to every rule but this is the prevailing practice.

Everyone will fall on a continuum at that point. On one extreme end will be people who are already retired. They will retain their promised pension rights. At the other extreme are people who will be newly joined union members. They will most likely start with some form of 401K type pension from day one. In the middle will be everyone else. The trustees will run the numbers and draw a line or two on the continuum. People who are close to retirement may retain their DB rights. But everyone on the other side of that line may retain a portion of their DB rights and then everything from the day they open the new plan will be DC into that 401K-type plan. This is a hybrid situation. People with not too many years in the old plan will likely have those rights converted into a seed amount to start their new 401K plan and then retain that plan until they retire. The article has more specifics on what that means.

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September 11, 2009

SAG P & H Plans

Fellow SAG Members,

You’ve just received the latest edition of TAKE 2, the newsletter of SAG’s Pension and Health Plans, and like me, you were probably troubled by what you read:

“According to federal guidelines established by the Pension Protection Act of 2006, the [Pension] Plan is in the orange zone and considered to be seriously endangered.”

“So far this year, contributions generated from employment-based earnings are down 10%. This represents the largest drop in plan history and does not account for the full impact of the decrease in SAG-covered television pilots, which has yet to be realized.”

HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS GOING UP
You also read that starting January 1st, our Health Insurance premiums are going up: 66% higher for Plan One, 50% higher for Plan Two, and 92% higher for Plan Two “age & service” coverage. And for the first time in the Plan’s history, all Senior Performers will now have to pay monthly premiums.

PENSION ACCRUAL RATE COMING DOWN
The funding decline of our Pension Plan means that corrective action must be taken, or “the Pension Plan could enter the red zone, (the most critical status under the PPA) and risk a funding deficiency under federal law, which would require even stronger action to correct.” As a result, effective Jan. 1, 2010, the pension accrual rate will be lowered from 3.5% to 2.0%, a drop of 42%.

This is very serious news, but it’s equally important to point out that these reductions do not apply to any pension you are currently receiving, or any benefits you have already accrued. By taking action now, the Plans will preserve their ability to pay those promised benefits.

However, as the Plan Trustees noted in their newsletter, the outlook for future benefits is less secure.

Investment losses hurt benefit plans across the country last year, including SAG’s – even though the Guild’s plans fared better than most in that regard. But earnings-based contributions have suffered their worst drop ever, and this does not reflect the future effects of SAG covering only 10% of the 2009 TV pilots. The cost of the decision last year to fight with AFTRA rather than partner with them on our biggest contract negotiation has already been deeply felt, but it hasn’t been fully realized yet.

YOUR VOTE WILL DECIDE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
I support my family as an actor and I couldn’t do it without solid health insurance and the expectation of a secure pension when I retire. Many of you are in the same boat… but even if you’re not, we all understand just how crucial those benefits are.

Will we go back to fighting with AFTRA and further endanger our benefit plans? Or will we unite with AFTRA to increase our bargaining power and strengthen the security of our health and pension benefits? This election will determine our course.

It’s clearer than ever that we cannot go back to the go-it-alone approach. That’s why I’m asking you to vote for Ken Howard, Amy Aquino and me, along with all the other UFS board candidates. And please spread this message to every SAG member you know. It has never been more important to make sure that all your friends and colleagues vote.

Respectfully,

Ned Vaughn

For more information about our candidates and to see all the UFS videos, please visit http://www.UniteforStrength.com

**UNITE FOR STRENGTH VOTING GUIDE**

President – KEN HOWARD
Secretary-Treasurer – AMY AQUINO

Board of Directors – Please vote for ALL 33 board candidates below. DO NOT vote for more than 33 board candidates or your ballot will not be counted.

1 – Michelle Allsopp
6 – Patrick Fabian
9 – Jason George
10 – Dawnn Lewis
11 – Woody Schultz
12 – Michael O’Keefe
14 – Clark Gregg
19 – David Lawrence
20 – Amir Talai
21 – Doug Savant
22 – Dule Hill
23 – Clyde Kusatsu
25 – Tim DeKay
28 – Assaf Cohen
34 – Scotty Caldwell
35 – D.W. Moffett
39 – Mandy Steckelberg
40 – Richard Speight, Jr.
43 – Jenny O’Hara
52 – Gabrielle Carteris
55 – Hill Harper
57 – Bill Smitrovich
58 – Bob Bergen
59 – Ned Vaughn
60 – Nancy Travis
62 – Gregory Itzin
64 – Ellen Crawford
67 – Stacey Travis
73 – Christian Clemenson
74 – Conrad Palmisano
75 – Richard Fancy
81 – Marcia Wallace
82 – John Carroll Lynch

June 3, 2009

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.

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