SAG-AFTRA Presses on With Talent Managers Code

The voluntary regulations have garnered only two signatories, but the union sees the process as long-term and will continue to educate members on the effort.

Undeterred by opposition from talent managers associations, SAG-AFTRA is continuing to promote its voluntary Personal Managers Code of Ethics and Conduct, which was released last month. The union announced Monday that it has set a bicoastal member meeting on the topic for April 15 at 12 p.m. PT.

The meeting comes after a similar session held March 21 by the union for a capacity crowd of more than 300 members, held via video conference in Los Angeles and New York.

“This agreement, first and foremost, was created to protect the relationship between interested members and their listed managers who contact our department on a daily basis requesting assistance from SAG-AFTRA,” said Zino Macaluso, national director/senior counsel of the union’s Personal Representatives Department. “The launch of the code naturally brought questions from members, as well as wildly inaccurate misinformation about the nature and scope of the underlying voluntary document.”

Three national associations of talent managers – the Talent Managers Association, the National Conference of Personal Managers and the Music Managers Forum – have vehemently opposed the Code, despite TMA having participated in discussions with the union as the document was developed.

“[The Code] adversely affects the needs of personal managers, their artist clients and the entertainment industry,” said the associations in a statement last month. “Not only is their Code too disruptive to a manager’s ability to work with and communicate with artists, it includes SAG-AFTRA’s own legal interpretation of laws relating to managers and agents that would discourage managers from taking on developmental clients, especially those without agency representation. Further, SAG/AFTRA has no vetting process, allowing anyone to receive approval despite a poor reputation, history of poor service or worse.”

The managers groups’ opposition seems to have taken a toll: Although a union source previously told THR that it had a mailing list of well over 2,000 managers, a check of the SAG-AFTRA website revealed that only two managers had signed the Code.

Nonetheless, the union remains committed. “To ensure the dissemination of accurate information of the details of this code, SAG-AFTRA will continue with these educational seminars,” Macaluso said. “Our leadership understands that this will be a long-term process with benefits that will accrue over time, as we expand protections and information for our members.”

In a statement, the union said: “Certain special interest groups are vehemently fighting any kind of regulatory oversight and are suing the State of California in an attempt to declare California’s entire Talent Agencies Act unconstitutional. These special interest groups are actively seeking to deregulate the representation industry, leaving thousands of performers in the State of California unprotected in their relationships with talent agents and managers. This remains an issue of concern for SAG-AFTRA and our members, which we will monitor closely.”

That’s a reference to a lawsuit filed by the National Conference of Personal Managers. The suit was dismissed in March 2013 and is currently on appeal.

Following the union’s March 21 seminar, attendees were asked to fill out an informal participant questionnaire. Among the responses members shared:

“Having this document is certainly the start of actors being better protected if they choose to have a personal manager. I think that there is a slippery slope with managers because they are not regulated, so this is necessary. I think actors need to be better informed about what they are signing, which this will help.” – J.E.

“I think the long-term advantages of this code will do wonders for our union.” – Danielle J.

“I think the final Code of Ethics and Conduct is great and protects performers.” – Brigitte B.

“I cannot imagine signing an agreement that is not this.” – B.H.

“I would be more likely to sign with a manager that was listed with SAG-AFTRA because it shows that the manager is more responsible and accountable and professional.” – A.P.

“I won’t sign with a personal manager if they have not signed this and I will not work with an agent who is not SAG-AFTRA franchised either.” – Natalie W.

“SAG-AFTRA personal manager regulation is imperative and much needed (if not overdue) for the entertainment industry. I have always had trouble with management contracts when forwarding the documents to my attorney. This SAG-AFTRA manager contract immediately remedies all initial worry and the protection is a union right. I am relieved!” – Sophie L.

“I am part of the union because it protects and regulates my work and I would like to see more regulation of this group by my union.” – F.C.

“I have come up against several managers who have wanted to sign an outrageous multiyear contract and I have realized there was no regulation.” – Eileen F.

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