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MAR
6
5 MOS

Managers Survey Gives Thumbs Down to SAG-AFTRA Code, But Union Disagrees

A couple hundred managers responded to the poll, but SAG-AFTRA challenges the accuracy and methodology.

Personal managers nationwide have overwhelmingly rejected the SAG-AFTRA Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct, said the National Conference of Personal Managers Inc. (NCOPM) in announcing the results of a web survey emailed to more than 1,200 personal managers nationwide and responded to by around 200 managers.

However, NCOPM acknowledged that the poll, although intended to be objective, was not scientific. A SAG-AFTRA source argued that coming as it did in the wake of intense negative publicity and lobbying, the poll was necessarily affected by “self-selection bias” – i.e., a likelihood that only the most angry members of the manager community would have bothered to respond. The union also called the survey a “push poll” intended to inflame opinion, not measure it.

SAG-AFTRA announced the Code earlier this week as a “voluntary agreement that is designed to promote honest and ethical relationships between the union’s members and the managers they choose to represent them.” The product of a six-year effort, the Code has had a bumpy rollout, with NCOPM and another managers group, the Talent Managers Association, both coming out in opposition. Even a manager quoted in SAG-AFTRA’s own press release subsequently withdrew his support.

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“The survey showed 98 percent of personal managers will not apply to sign on to the SAG-AFTRA Code,” said Clinton Ford Billups Jr., NCOPM national president. “The remaining managers responded ‘maybe’ and only one responded that he would apply. Based on that and the other results of the survey, it appears that the SAG-AFTRA Code is dead on arrival with the personal management community.”

“For NCOPM, the SAG-AFTRA code is moot. Our members must abide by the NCOPM Code of Ethics, which has been an industry standard for more than 50 years,” said Billups, who told The Hollywood Reporter that the managers surveyed included NCOPM members, TMA members and non-affiliated managers. He said that a “couple hundred” had responded to the survey, but did not provide an exact number.

“Do I claim that this is the most scientific survey in the world?” said Billups in an interview. “No. But there was no editorial(izing) in the questions.” He said that the questions were framed in neutral language and included quotations directly from the Code. THR obtained a copy of the survey questions from Billups and has included it at the end of this article.

SAG-AFTRA denounced the survey.

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“The flawed NCOPM push poll is not representative of the opinions and attitudes of the entire management community or the members of SAG-AFTRA,” said Zino Macaluso, national director and senior counsel of the union’s professional representatives department. “The questions are suggestive and the results unreliable.”

Separately, union sources questioned the survey size and response rate of the poll, saying that the union’s own list of managers had well over 2,000 names on it. Also, “the fact that the (percentages in the results) are so high shows the self-selection bias,” said one “Most people who have a negative feeling took the poll.”

“There are reliability issues” in the poll, concluded the union source.

NCOPM said that its survey also found that 96 percent of the survey respondents disagreed with the SAG-AFTRA Code’s inclusion of a provision that a personal manager “does not solicit and/or procure employment.” That’s a touchy issue, since actors and others generally want their managers to find jobs for them, yet state law in California and New York prohibits them from doing so except in conjunction with a licensed talent agent (or, in the case of New York, doing so “only incidentally”).

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(NCOPM challenged the California law – the Talent Agencies Act – but lost in the district court. The matter is on appeal in the Ninth Circuit, but oral argument has not yet been scheduled. The law has been invoked for decades to avoid paying managers by claiming their managers illegally procured employment without a talent agency license.)

According to NCOPM, survey respondents also strongly disagreed with specific provisions of the SAG-AFTRA Code, including:

* 92 percent of respondents disagreed  with the Code’s provision that: “Regarding disputes between the Union and any PM that has agreed to sign on to the Code, the Union’s General Counsel (or his designee) shall be charged with issuing a final ruling based on any written information presented to him/her by the affected parties.”

* 73 percent of the respondents disagreed with the Code’s provision that a personal manager must “provide SAG-AFTRA with a copy of any agreement it uses to represent SAG-AFTRA performers, including an appended schedule of fees, where one exists.”

* 83 percent of the respondents disagreed with the Code’s provision that: “With respect to any and all disputes and controversies arising out of a contractual relationship between a SAG-AFTRA member and a PM, the parties must submit these disputes/controversies to SAG-AFTRA for adjudication in accordance with the arbitration provisions” contained in The Code’s Arbitration Rules.

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* 87 percent of the respondents disagreed with the Code’s arbitration provision that: “If parties fail to agree on the final choice of an Arbitrator, SAG-AFTRA will act in the best interests of all parties concerned and name an Arbitrator for the case.”

* 92 percent of the respondents disagreed with the Code’s arbitration provision that: “SAG-AFTRA shall be an ex officio party to all arbitration proceedings hereunder in which any member of SAG-AFTRA is involved, and the Union may do anything which a party named in such proceedings might do.”

* 92 percent of the respondents disagreed with all or some the Code’s provisions regulating home offices.

NCOPM said survey respondents’ comments also were vehement in their condemnation of the union’s Code, including:

“This is outrageous.”

“It seems SAG/AFTRA needs to learn that you catch more flies with honey.”

“No self-respecting manager should agree to anything in this preposterous proposal.”

“The Code is an insult and an affront and not in either a manager’s nor a union member’s interests.”

“This document is a degradation and disrespectful response to our role in the entertainment industry.”

“Hasn’t SAG-AFTRA already done enough to destroy it’s own union(s)?”

Billups said the web survey was conducted Mar. 4-6 on NCOPM’s behalf by Chicago-based Vroman Systems Inc. However, that company is not a survey organization; rather, it provides tools that allow users to create their own web survey forms. The data is gathered by those surveys and presented by Vroman’s systems to the customer (here, NCOPM).

Billups also argued that “it certainly is a perceived, if not actual, conflict of interest for a personal manager to sign the union’s Code of Ethics. Engaging in a contractual relationship with any entity that also has a contractual relationship with a manager’s client questions the objectivity of the manager.”

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“SAG-AFTRA PM Code of Ethics” Survey

National Conference of Personal Managers Inc. (NCOPM), the nation’s oldest trade association committed to the advancement of personal managers and their clients, is conducting a survey of personal managers nationwide regarding the SAG-AFTRA Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct (“The Code”). Please DOWNLOAD and read The Code prior to completing and submitting this survey.

* I have downloaded and read The Code prior to completing and submitting this survey.

Yes

No

* Do you agree or disagree with The Code’s inclusion of the provision that a personal manager “does not solicit and/or procure employment, as these categories are broadly defined, in any area in which SAG-AFTRA has exercised jurisdiction, except to the extent that such activities may be sanctioned by applicable California and/or New York State Law.”

Agree.

Disagree.

* Do you agree or disagree with The Code’s inclusion of the provision that: “Regarding disputes between the Union and any PM that has agreed to sign on to the Code, the Union’s General Counsel (or his designee) shall be charged with issuing a final ruling based on any written information presented to him/her by the affected parties.”

Agree.

Disagree.

* Do you agree or disagree with The Code’s inclusion of the provision that a personal manager must “provides SAG-AFTRA with a copy of any agreement it uses to represent SAG-AFTRA performers, including an appended schedule of fees, where one exists.”

Agree.

Disagree.

* Do you agree with the ethics and conduct pledges 1 - 18 included in the Adherence Letter.

Agree with all pledges listed.

Disagree with all pledges listed.

Agree with all pledges listed except:

* Do you agree or disagree with The Code’s inclusion of the provision that: “With respect to any and all disputes and controversies arising out of a contractual relationship between a SAG-AFTRA member and a PM, the parties must submit these disputes/controversies to SAG-AFTRA for adjudication in accordance with the arbitration provisions” contained in Exhibit A: Arbitration Rules.

Agree.

Disagree.

* Do you agree or disagree with the inclusion of the provision in Exhibit A that: “If parties fail to agree on the final choice of an Arbitrator, SAG-AFTRA will act in the best interests of all parties concerned and name an Arbitrator for the case.”

Agree

Disagree

* Do you agree or disagree with the inclusion of the provision in Exhibit A that: “SAG-AFTRA shall be an ex officio party to all arbitration proceedings hereunder in which any member of SAG-AFTRA is involved, and the Union may do anything which a party named in such proceedings might do.”

Agree

Disagree

* Do you agree or disagree with the provisions of Exhibit B: Manager Home Office Waiver.

Agree with all provisions.

Disagree with all provisions.

Agree with all provisions except:

* Will you apply to SAG-AFTRA to sign on to the terms and conditions of the SAG-AFTRA Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct in its current form.

Yes.

Maybe.

No.

Comments (Optional):

Thank you for participating in the NCOPM suvey regarding the SAG-AFTRA Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct. NCOPM will report the results of this survey to its members, the trade media and SAG-AFTRA. To confirm submission of your survey responses and to receive a report of the results of this survey, please enter your email below.

Please confirm receipt of my survey submission and email me a report on the results of the survey to the email address below: