AFTRA & SAG reach tentative agreement with ad industry

MUMBAI: The Joint Negotiating Committee of Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) 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 15 April 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 3 January, 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 1 April, 2009 to 31 March, 2012
• 5.5% overall increase in wages and other compensation over the life of the contracts, including a 4.43% increase, effective 1 April , 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 across the board increase under the AFTRA Radio Commercials Contract is 5.3%, including contributions to AFTRA H&R and the AICF
• All of the unions’ proposals regarding diversity issues were addressed in the negotiations.

“The AFTRA and SAG commercials contracts provide our members with the solid foundation they need to sustain their careers and families. 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,” said AFTRA national president and AFTRA chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee Roberta Reardon.