Unions extend commercial pact


SAG/AFTRA membership has overwhelmingly approved a two-year extension to the unions' commercials contract, with nearly 96% giving the agreement a green light.

Approval was expected, with the committee that negotiated the pact with reps of the ad industry recommending it unanimously and a broad majority of the unions' joint board also giving the extension a thumbs up. No minority report was included with membership ballots.

Terms provide for a 6% pay raise when the extension kicks in Oct. 30, and it will boost the employer contribution to union health and pension plans from 14.3% to 14.8%.

The extension agreement also contains acknowledgment of guild jurisdiction over content usage on new-media platforms. And in a pair of related initiatives, the unions have agreed to a joint study with the ad industry regarding possible new pay structures and to a one-year waiver allowing advertisers to experiment with a shorter-use cycle for new media and the Internet.

About 21% of the 125,000 SAG/AFTRA members receiving ballots voted. The pact is with the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

"Our members recognized that this ... extension was a solid, fair deal for working actors," SAG president Alan Rosenberg said. "The agreement clearly establishes jurisdiction over commercials appearing on all new media platforms that will allow us to analyze the rapidly changing industry and provides SAG members with an expected $45 million in additional compensation."

AFTRA president John Connolly said: "The overwhelming support for this extension to the commercials contract is a victory for the entire industry -- performers and advertisers alike. In exchange for express recognition of jurisdiction and increased wages and benefits, AFTRA will now work in partnership with our sister union and the advertising industry to analyze the rapidly evolving media environment."

Connolly added that the extension will boost job opportunities for "performers in every corner of traditional and new media."

SAG has about 120,000 members, AFTRA about 70,000. Those belonging to both unions were allowed only one ballot.