SAG-AFTRA Agreements 101

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SAG-AFTRA Agreements 101

Being familiar with all our contracts is no small matter. Given the number and scope of agreements covering our many categories of employment, it requires a level of wonkish commitment that can be daunting to even the most experienced members. But having at least a passing knowledge of what they entail is also an invaluable asset to the working performer. In this and subsequent articles, your SAG-AFTRA staff will provide some of the basics — hopefully, enough to make your working experience safe and productive.

As you know, the SAG-AFTRA National Board recently approved a series of regional commercials code agreements for locals across the country. The Seattle and Portland locals have had a regional code in place for many years, but some locals have opted for a regional code for the very first time in hopes of bringing more local work into their markets. This was accomplished after a yearlong process in which we solicited vital feedback from stakeholders across the industry, including advertisers, ad agencies, producers, casting directors and talent agents. We asked, they spoke, we listened. In addition, members also weighed in on what they wanted to see in terms of a simplified, streamlined, easy-to-use agreement. The new Pacific Northwest Regional Commercials Code (PNWRCC) represents a radical re-imagining of the local commercials landscape; it is an acknowledgement by the union of how that landscape has changed in the past several decades. It will, we hope, help us capture — and re-capture — union commercial work in our region.

The PNWRCC is a stripped-down version of the National Commercials Contract, covering both off-camera and on-camera production of spots running in local and regional markets. That means spots created in the five states covered by the Seattle and Portland locals (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska) can run in any of those states, and in some instances can “spill over” into markets in adjacent states. This effectively provides a small local and regional advertiser with a large geographic footprint in which to distribute their messaging.

Secondly, the code bundles distribution and usage: Coverage includes broadcast, local cable, and internet/digital and social media, and signatories can produce on either a full-term or one-production-only basis. Usage is available for four or 13 weeks, one year or 21-month maximum period of use by paying a single graduated-scale session fee. This not only cuts down on the paperwork required, but it also means you get paid for all uses for the entire run up front; no more waiting every 13 weeks for another check. The tradeoff is that there’s no exclusivity, so performers can do spots for similar product categories without conflicts.

Third, the code is condensed into a simple, six-page document — including rate sheets. (By comparison, the previous code was more than 70 pages long!), and the letter of agreement requires only the signatory’s name, contact information and signature. Plus, the newly updated employment contract/time sheet is a fillable PDF form, so no more complaints about “all the complicated paperwork.”

We are currently re-signing current signatories to the PNWRCC, and are reaching out to targeted ad agencies and producers in the region to let them know how they can use the code to create affordable, professional-quality commercials using our members. We encourage you to take the opportunity to talk to your agents, casting directors (we’ve sent notifications to both), fellow members and contacts in your personal industry networks. The more we can spread the word, the more effective we’ll be in terms of capturing back this valuable segment of our market. As always, if you have questions or need more information, please contact us here in the local office — we’re ready and available to serve you.

Do you have a question about the SAG-AFTRA contracts you work under? Send it to Chris at chris.comte@sagaftra.org; your question might just be shared in future newsletters.

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