It's another add-on for ads contract

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SAG and AFTRA have agreed to another six-month extension of their commercials contract with two ad industry groups.

The latest extension — through March 31 — follows a previous two-year add-on to an October 2006 deal that was set to expire Oct. 29.

The first extension was made to give time for a study on online compensation that was conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton. Details of the study haven't been made public.

The latest extension comes with SAG stuck in a stalemate with the studios and networks over a new television and film contract; the old one expired June 30. There are several outstanding issues remaining, most notably compensation and jurisdiction for work in new media.

Another major sticking point is SAG's fractured relationship with AFTRA, with which it has bargained almost all of its major contracts for nearly three decades under an agreement known as Phase One. The joint bargaining relationship fell apart in late March, the culmination of a long, bitter feud between the unions.

"Today's announcement only deals with the extension," AFTRA spokesman John Hinrichs said. "A decision on Phase One and joint negotiations has to be decided by the AFTRA national board."

If the two unions do decide to negotiate a new commercials pact under Phase One, they would need time to meet with members, known as the wages and working conditions process.

"I think it's great news," said Sam Freed, president of SAG's New York board and the guild's second national vp. "Because we've been preoccupied with TV/Theatrical negotiations, we haven't been able to begin the process of (wages and working conditions) in a timely way. We need the membership to be involved as much as they can."

Andrew Salomon is news editor at Back Stage East.
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