Why is SAG-AFTRA doing this now?
SAG-AFTRA’s National Agents Relations Committee believes it is time for the Union to recognize the valuable and long-standing contributions made by those in the management community to not only our performers’ careers, but to their daily lives, as well. The National Board has agreed. Because of this, the Committee helped craft the SAG-AFTRA Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct (“Code”) as a document which honors the many contributions that managers make every day for our performers. SAG-AFTRA aims for this to be a first step in a more formal and mutually beneficial relationship between all interested personal managers and the Union. After all, which personal manager a performer chooses to engage to help guide his/her career is among the most intimate business decisions a performer can make. SAG-AFTRA wants to assist performers in this process.
Was there member input into this Code of Ethics and Conduct?
This agreement has been a long standing and on-going effort on the part of the legacy SAG National Agency Relations Committee for several years and came to fruition following merger. The SAG-AFTRA National Agents Relations Committee is a member-driven committee that has been deeply involved in all aspects of drafting the agreement.
What are the benefits to signing the Code?
Any personal manager wishing to execute the Code can claim, for the first time in SAG-AFTRA history, a relationship with our performers that is recognized and acknowledged by SAG-AFTRA. The personal manager’s name will be added to the Union’s official list of current management representatives that have executed the Code. The personal manager can advertise this fact, if (s)he so desires. This constantly evolving list, which aims to include managers in all States where SAG-AFTRA has a franchised agency presence, will be made available to all members in the same manner as the Union’s L-franchised agents’ lists are. In addition, once the manager signs the Code, (s)he can count on a more personalized relationship with the Union, including increased assistance with member disputes, whether they are commission-based or otherwise, as well as access to the Union’s free mediation service, and inexpensive dispute resolution mechanisms. Also, SAG-AFTRA would encourage participating managers to enroll in benefits that it has arranged for other representatives in the past, such as the SAG-AFTRA Health Mart, offering competitive rates for insurance and other programs.
What are the repercussions if a talent manager doesn’t sign the Code?
None. The Code is intended to be a purely voluntary document that is available to any personal manager that is interested in signing it, and whose business practices conform to the document’s goals and requirements. SAG-AFTRA does not intend to interfere with any pre-existing personal management relationships in which the manager has chosen not to sign the Code. Such relationships are outside of the Union’s oversight, and subject only to applicable State Law. It should be noted that managers who have not signed the Code, however, cannot receive assistance from the Union in their disputes with our members, and vice versa.
What are the benefits to SAG-AFTRA members who already have or are looking for personal managers?
A significant number of calls received by SAG-AFTRA’s Agency Department on a daily basis involve a performer’s relationship with his/her personal manager, or vice versa. Currently, SAG-AFTRA cannot assist these parties in answering those questions—those inquiring are encouraged to seek independent legal counsel, at their own expense, outside the Union’s jurisdiction. Calls from performers whose managers are signed to the Code, however, can receive service because the manager in question has agreed to sign the SAG-AFTRA Code. This means the Union can assist with general contractual interpretation questions regarding the management relationship, as well as with general dispute resolution (formal or informal). Moreover, a performer who is in the market for a personal manager may choose to seek out one that has voluntarily agreed to sign the Code, as a starting point. If the manager has refused to sign on to the Code, the performer may also well choose to ask: why not?
What if the personal manager belongs to a personal manager association that already has a code of ethics, how is this different?
SAG-AFTRA has no comment on any organization’s internal code of ethics. The Code is purely intended as a tool to acknowledge personal management relationships that, in the Union’s opinion, conform to applicable State laws and reflect appropriate ethical standards for the relationship between performers and managers.
Members are being asked to also sign the Personal Managers Code of Ethics and Conduct, why?
Because the agreement includes a potential for arbitration of disputes, members are being asked to acknowledge and adhere to this aspect of the document. This arbitration provision helps members and managers alike to keep down their litigation costs in a way that also results in speedier resolution of disputes. Members will also receive a copy of the signed agreement for their records.
What is the benefit of in-house arbitration?
Both the member and the personal manager may take advantage of an inexpensive and expedient dispute resolution system before a neutrally and jointly appointed arbitrator. Disagreements will be spared the significant expense of court action or the sometimes significant delay associated with an administrative review at the State level. In addition, SAG-AFTRA can select arbitrators that have experience in representational relationships as a precondition of appointment—a preference which is not always met in other venues.
Is the scale tipped in the member’s favor if SAG-AFTRA’s General Counsel is deciding cases?
No. The General Counsel of SAG-AFTRA will not serve as an adjudicator in member disputes with their personal managers. The SAG-AFTRA General Counsel (or his designee) will only play a role in determining whether a personal manager has breached the Code. Any action taken in this context may only result in the personal manager’s removal from the SAG-AFTRA rolls. However, in such instances, any disputed removal of the manager from that list may be challenged, in writing, by the manager to the SAG-AFTRA National Agents Relations Committee.
What does this mean for our members? Our relationship with agents?
It means that for the first time in its history, SAG-AFTRA will be formally acknowledging the role personal managers play in the daily lives of our performers. The Code is intended to be an outreach to any interested members of the management community who believe there may be a benefit in having a recognized relationship with SAG-AFTRA. As the Union serves its members, so do personal managers. SAG-AFTRA has indicated a clear desire to expand its reach in this community and help interested personal managers to become more familiar with, and feel a part of, the SAG-AFTRA recognized representational family. It is important to note that the Code is not intended to affect, reflect upon, or interfere in any way with SAG-AFTRA’s franchise relationship with its agent community.