SAG-AFTRA postpones early commercial contract talks

SAG-AFTRA and the advertising industry agreed to postpone their previously-scheduled early negotiations of the union’s commercials contract, the union board announced Saturday.  The current three-year contract expiring March, 31, 2013 covers an estimated $1 billion annual work. 

Both sides said they needed more time to address “data challenges” from the test of the revamped compensation model, also known as the Gross Ratings Point Pilot Project. 

The GRP concept could result in a major change to the way commercials residuals are calculated and is expected to be a major negotiation issue, along with pension and health contribution levels and non-union work increases.

The SAG-AFTRA board on Sunday approved a motion urging the SAG and AFTRA pension and health plans trustees to immediately implement changes in the two sets of health plans that would make benefits more widely available to members.

The board also urged the trustees to review “the feasibility and advisability of creating a unified (pension plan) and reciprocity agreement between the existing (pension plans).”

SAG-AFTRA will start gearing up for the negotiations through educational meetings to be held in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles starting Aug. 8. 

Meetings addressing formal wages and working conditions will begin after Sept. 10.  These four-to-six week meetings are followed by the time-consuming formulation of a package of negotiating proposals and their approvals by the W&W committee and the SAG-AFTRA board.

Factoring in the holidays, formal contract negotiations probably won’t start until mid-January, giving the negotiators on both sides only 10 weeks before the current contract ends. If that time frame prevails, both sides are likely to agree to extend the current contract.

The SAG-AFTRA board also unanimously approved the first industry-wide music video agreement negotiated with representatives of the major record labels. That agreement, reached June 1, was SAG-AFTRA’s first agreement as a merged union. — Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, Variety