SAG/AFTRA: Advertisers Want Union Rollbacks

Employers have proposed cutting contributions to pension, health and retirement funds by more than $20 million.

UPDATE, 4:25 pm

Strike Watch’s Andrew Salomon has posted a response from SAG and AFTRA to the unions’ draft of a strike-authorization letter posted on TheWrap this morning: 

 

"We are making every effort to negotiate a fair contract and remain optimistic that we will bring these talks to a successful conclusion. Today, there was an unauthorized distribution of a draft strike authorization letter.

 

This is one of many contingency documents that we prepare in the course of any negotiations, particularly as we approach the expiration of a contract. Our members understand that this is a normal part of the bargaining process.We will continue to bargain in good faith with the industry in an effort to get a deal.”

 

 

Earlier…..

 

The news for SAG just keeps getting worse.

Joint talks between the guild and AFTRA over their respective contracts covering commercials seem to have hit several major roadblocks — and the two unions have already drafted a letter to members seeking strike authorization.

An individual close to the talks has told TheWrap that employers have proposed cutting contributions to pension, health and retirement funds by more than $20 million — and they have yet to respond to the two unions’ proposals for an increase in basic wages and a set pay structure for New Media work.

“From the first day of the negotiations, it has been our intention to reach an agreement acceptable to both sides,” members of the joint negotiating committee said in the letter. “The issues at stake in these negotiations are critically important and require that we bring our full bargaining power to the table by passing this referendum to authorize a strike in the field of television and radio commercials.”

The news is especially grim for SAG, which is still in a stalemate with the AMPTP over the guild’s TV/theatrical contract. Members of SAG’s national board have reportedly been debating over whether to send out a strike authorization request over that contract, which expired eight months ago.

SAG’s board voted to reject the AMPTP’s “last, best and final” offer on Feb. 19. The AMPTP gave the guild an ultimatum to sign the offer within 60 days or risk getting a worse deal.

SAG leaders have since focused their energy on the commercials negotiations with the ANA-AAAA Joint Policy Committee on Broadcast Talent Relations (JPC), which began Feb. 23 in New York and are scheduled to end on Friday. AFTRA’s Television and Radio Commercials Contracts and SAG’s Television Commercials Contract, which have been extended twice since 2006, expire March 31.

The JPC’s proposed rollback to the unions’ P&H plans is particularly troubling, said TheWrap’s insider close to the talks. The union leaders called the cuts “debilitating” in their strike-authorization letter.

“Despite the potentially devastating impact of the declining global markets on our Plans, the Employers have offered no increases in contributions and continue to press for ‘caps,’ which will cost our plans more than $60 million,” he said.

The strike-authorization letter state the JPC is also seeking “significant changes to the compensation model” and a “’pilot study’ that tests ONLY the industry’s preferred compensation model without an equal study of the unions’ preferred compensation model."

A representative AFTRA declined to comment. Representatives of SAG, AFTRA and the JPC have not responded to requests for comment or confirmation.
 

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