Q. When can I vote on the commercials contracts?
A. Ballots were mailed to all eligible SAG and AFTRA members on April 30, 2009. Ballots must be mailed in the return envelope provided and received at the Everett, WA, post office box no later than 5:00 p.m. (PDT) May 21, 2009. Ballots received after this deadline, or at a location other than the post office box, will not be counted.
Q. I didn’t receive a ballot for the commercials contracts referendum. Who should I call?
A. SAG members may contact the Membership Services Department at 323-549-6458 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
AFTRA members may contact Betty Gomez at 212-863-4224 or by email at email@example.com
DUAL SAG/AFTRA members may contact either of the above.
Q. What happened with Class A residuals? I heard there might be a change to that provision. Did we lose it?
A. Class A has been retained and all Class A rates have been increased by 4.43%.
Q. What did we gain on Internet and New Media?
A. Use fees for commercials originally produced for television or radio and then moved over to the Internet or New Media were increased from 300% for one year’s use to 350%. Eight-week cycle rates also were increased from one session fee, to 1.33 times the session fee. Commercials originally made for Internet or New Media remain freely bargained until the 3rd year of the contract. Beginning on April 1, 2011, the minimums will be the same as commercials moved over to the Internet or New Media. We will also conduct a joint Industry-Unions study to explore how a usage-based compensation system might work for Internet and New Media exhibition of commercials.
Q. I understand that once the contract is ratified we will work with the industry to conduct three studies. Why three?
A. The first study–the GRP pilot study–will examine the feasibility of paying performers based on gross rating points for commercials aired on network television, national cable and syndication. Gross rating points are values assigned to commercials based on household viewership. The second study covers solely Internet and New Media use, and its objective is to identify a practical system of usage-based compensation. The purpose of the third study is to design solutions for an automated monitoring system for both traditional and digital media. All three studies will be undertaken by independent consultants and will be funded by the Industry Advancement Cooperative Fund (IACF) and AFTRA Industry Cooperative Fund (AICF).
Q. Did we get monitoring in this deal?
A. The unions and the JPC agreed to jointly engage a consultant for the purpose of designing an automated monitoring system for traditional and digital media. The consultant will use the results of previous monitoring studies and will also have access to industry experts and current monitoring practices. Monitoring will also be addressed during the GRP pilot study.
Q. There was talk about making changes to the editing provisions of the contract. Did that happen?
A. No. The editing provisions of the contract remain the same: television commercials fall under the rules of Section 26 of the Television Commercials Contracts and radio commercials fall under Section 23 of the Radio Commercials Contract. Editing for Internet and New Media commercials remains freely bargained.
Q. Why are there two different dates slated for the next time we negotiate?
A. Due to the scheduling terms of the GRP pilot study, discussion and negotiations on GRP will begin upon completion of the study–on or about October 1, 2011. The remainder of the contract will be negotiated closer to the expiration of the contract: March 31, 2012.
Q. Is it true that an advertiser can use its own employees instead of SAG or AFTRA talent?
A. Advertisers always have had the ability use their employees in their own commercials, within certain limitations. Those limitations have been relaxed to permit filming the employees during off-business hours or at off-site locations that replicate their place of business, but only when it would be unusually difficult, disruptive or unsafe to comply with the existing contract limitations.
Application of the contract has always been waived as to executive officers of advertisers delivering “institutional messages.” That waiver now applies regardless of the type of message.
This provision is not applicable to the Radio Commercials Contract.
Q. I heard there is now a cap on earnings. What does this mean?
A. A cap on employer contributions to the AFTRA H&R and SAG P&H plans on a performer’s earnings under the commercials contracts has been set at $1 million per multi-services contract, per year, and will go into effect April 1, 2011. Here’s how it works: A performer is hired to do a campaign for a beverage company for $5,000,000 a year. Part of the performer’s multi-service contract includes commercial work that accounts for $2 million of the deal. P&H and H&R contributions would be made only on $1 million instead of $2 million. The cap is per contract, per performer, per year. So, if the beverage company renews the performer’s contract the following year, they would have to pay up to the million-dollar cap again.
Q. I’m confused by the “third and fourth audition” language, are we not getting paid for them anymore?
A. Performers called back for 3rd and 4th auditions will not be paid for the first two hours of the audition if there are only three performers called back and none of those three are on a first audition. Any third or fourth audition that does not meet the aforementioned criteria will be paid the same as in the past.
This provision is not applicable to the Radio Commercials Contract.
Q. Is anything new with Spanish-language commercials?
A. Foreign use rates under the Television Commercials Contracts were increased by one additional session fee for each geographical area, and there is also a 4.43% wage increase in all use areas. The industry and unions have agreed to meet at least once a year to discuss ways to promote more union covered Spanish-language television and radio commercials.
Q. Anything extra for the extras?
A. Yes! The number of covered positions increased from 40 to 45. Extra performers also will be notified at the time of hire of the number of commercials to be produced. A new $8 flat mileage fee paid per day within the studio zone was added. In addition, portable computers, portable digital music players and handheld mobile devices were added to the prop list at a rate of $5.74 each.
Q. Can a payroll company DEDUCT MONEY from my checks without warning for the purpose of recouping overpayments?
A. Yes, but the performer now has to be notified, in writing, prior to any recoupment.
Q. Where can I read the details of the new agreement?
A. You can read a thorough summary of the contracts and ballot package information at www.sag.org/contractcenter or www.aftra.com/commercials. If you would like to speak to someone about particular aspects of the contracts, please send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You may also call the SAG National Commercials Contracts Hotline at 323-549-6851 or the AFTRA National Commercials Contracts Hotline at 323-634-8127.