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Board Directs Investigation of Reported AEA Raids on SAG-AFTRA Jurisdiction in Recorded and Broadcast Media

LOS ANGELES - The SAG-AFTRA National Board, in a special meeting taking place Thursday, unanimously approved a resolution reaffirming the union’s historic and traditional jurisdiction in recording or broadcast of live theater productions. 

The National Board further confirmed SAG-AFTRA’s willingness to grant a waiver to AEA during the pandemic period, to permit AEA to cover recording and streaming of live theater productions by traditional AEA signatories, subject to reasonable limitations and an acknowledgement of jurisdiction, on terms consistent with those set forth in the waiver document that has been made available in draft form to AEA and the SAG-AFTRA membership.

Additionally, the National Board directed SAG-AFTRA counsel to conduct an investigation of AEA’s activities seeking to poach SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction, with a particular emphasis on its “Media Committee” and the many agreements it has made for so-called “remote” work that falls squarely within SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction, taking thousands of days of work from performers who should have been working under SAG-AFTRA contracts.

The full text of the resolution follows:

Resolution re: SAG-AFTRA and AEA Jurisdiction

WHEREAS, SAG-AFTRA and its predecessor unions have held and exercised exclusive jurisdiction over recorded media and live broadcast media since its inception in the 1930s, and over streamed and digitally transmitted media since its inception; and

WHEREAS, Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) is the union that represents performers in live theater in the United States; and

WHEREAS, traditionally over many decades, when a live theater production is to be recorded for broadcast, or now streaming, SAG-AFTRA holds undisputed jurisdiction over that recording or broadcast; and

WHEREAS, during the COVID-19 pandemic, AEA has approached SAG-AFTRA seeking a waiver of SAG-AFTRA jurisdiction over the recording and/or streaming of live theater productions for the purpose of supporting AEA, its members, and its traditional employers; and

WHEREAS, SAG-AFTRA was and remains willing to grant such a waiver, provided AEA acknowledges SAG-AFTRA’s traditional jurisdiction, and certain other provisions designed to assure such a waiver is a replacement and substitute for live theater and not a disguised, permanent incursion into SAG-AFTRA’s traditional jurisdiction; and

WHEREAS, AEA has refused to accept the reasonable provisions of the proffered waiver, and instead of continuing the dialogue between the unions about the waiver chose to launch a public campaign of misdirection and misinformation; and

WHEREAS, it now appears that AEA has been engaged in a surreptitious campaign to encroach upon SAG-AFTRA jurisdiction, having established a “media committee” and having sought to quietly secure agreements for work that is clearly within the scope of SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction; and

WHEREAS, SAG-AFTRA desires for its members and others to be fully informed about the circumstances of this jurisdictional matter, and rejects the AEA campaign of misinformation on social media and push polling;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the SAG-AFTRA National Board:

  1. SAG-AFTRA holds jurisdiction over recorded media and broadcast media (including streaming). This jurisdiction applies fully to recording or broadcast of live theater productions.
  2. The National Board confirms SAG-AFTRA’s willingness to grant a waiver to AEA during the pandemic period, to permit AEA to cover recording and streaming of live theater productions by traditional AEA signatories, subject to reasonable limitations and an acknowledgement of jurisdiction, on terms consistent with those set forth in the waiver document that has been made available in draft form to AEA and the SAG-AFTRA membership.
  3. The National Board directs SAG-AFTRA counsel to conduct an investigation of AEA’s activities seeking to poach SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction, with a particular emphasis on its “Media Committee” and the many agreements it has made for so-called “remote” work that falls squarely within SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction, taking thousands of days of work from performers who should have been working under SAG-AFTRA contracts.

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