Unions and ad industry agree on new contract


SAG and AFTRA announced a tentative agreement with the 4As and ANA on a new contract for television and radio commercials. The old contract had expired Tuesday, but talks had continued, leading to the agreement announced Wednesday.

According to the unions, 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, the first-ever establishment of a payment structure for work made for and moved over to 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 in the view of the unions 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 and moved over to the Internet or in New Media, 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

• 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,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and AFTRA Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee.

“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.

“In many ways, these negotiations set a new stage in the relationship between the advertising industry and the unions.  Rather than approaching the bargaining table as adversaries, the two sides sought to find solutions to one another’s key issues.  While many of these issues were difficult to resolve, the conviction by all parties to find reasons to agree rather than disagree resulted in a fair and balanced agreement,” said AAAA/ANA lead negotiator Douglas Wood in his online blog.

The tentative pact now goes to the SAG/AFTRA Joint National Board for approval, and then to members for ratification.

RBR/TVBR observation: Now, if SAG and the studios could just return to the negotiating table and work out their differences over a new contract for TV and movie actors.