Wednesday, April 1, 2009

SAG, AFTRA Reach Commercials Contract

By Georg Szalai

Tentative three-year deal reached unanimously

NEW YORK -- SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists said early Wednesday that they have reached a tentative new three-year commercials contract.

In a statement, they said the AFTRA/SAG Joint Negotiating Committee has reached a unanimous tentative agreement with the Joint Policy Committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers for successor deals to the AFTRA Television and Radio Commercials Contracts and the SAG Television Commercials Contract.

The three-year deal is subject to approval by the SAG/AFTRA Joint National Board. The 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, they said.It also includes about $21 million in increased contributions to the SAG Pension and Health Plan and the AFTRA Health and Retirement Fund and calls for the establishment of a payment structure for work made for the Internet and other new-media platforms.

The agreement also covers new monitoring provisions and improvements for choreographers, extras and Spanish-language performers, they said.

The agreement came after the talks at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in midtown Manhattan went into overtime after the old contract expired at midnight Tuesday."The AFTRA and SAG commercials contracts provide our members with the solid foundation they need to sustain their careers and families," said AFTRA national president Roberta Reardon, who served as 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."She also called the new agreement "a major victory for our unions -- and a victory for organized labor as a whole."Other negotiators on the union side also lauded the deal.

"It was a hard-fought negotiation, and our greatest victory was in protecting Class A residuals payments," said Sue-Anne Morrow, the SAG chair of the JNC.SAG chief negotiator John McGuire lauded the JNC for holding together "in the face of some very tough issues" and for standing firm.“The Joint Negotiating Committee provided us with clear objectives borne out of the nationwide Wages and Working conditions meetings leading up to the negotiations,” echoed Mathis Dunn, Jr., chief negotiator for AFTRA.

Importantly, the new contract calls for a two-year pilot study, set to start April 15, to test the Gross Rating Points model of restructuring compensation to performers as proposed by Booz & Co. The results and possible adoption of the study's findings will be subject to negotiations by the parties not later than Jan. 3, 2012.

Highlights of the new agreement include:

-- Three-year term from April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012

-- A 5.1% overall increase in wages and other compensation over the life of the contracts. That includes a 4.43% increase, effective Wednesday, in Class A, Wild Spot and basic cable session fees.

-- For new media product, 1.3 times the minimum session fee for use over 8 weeks and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use.Details of the new agreement will be submitted to the SAG/AFTRA Joint National Board for approval at a date that has yet to be determined.

If approved, it will be jointly mailed to the membership of both unions for ratification.

No comments: