SAG-AFTRA Unveils Code of Ethics for Personal Managers (Updated)

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Union hopes voluntary guidelines will clarify their role, but managers group is urging members not to sign

SAG-AFTRA on Tuesday unveiled its Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct, a set of voluntary guidelines the union hopes will promote honest and ethical relationships between its members and their managers.

But not everyone is happy about the new code. Among those not on board is the Talent Manager Association, which was involved in crafting the code but is urging its members not to sign.

The union has two franchised talent agency agreements, but had never formally established a working relationship with the personal management business. Its Agency Relations Department will now be known as the Professional Representatives Department.

The guidelines draw distinctions between the role of managers and agents. They say managers should not also be agents and that managers should help members find agents. Additionally, it calls on them to agree to arbitrate disputes through SAG-AFTRA.

Also read: Writers Guild, Studios and Networks Head Back to Negotiations

“The establishment of the Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct is a true ‘win-win,’ assuring important protections for SAG-AFTRA members while providing significant and meaningful benefits to our listed personal managers,” said SAG-AFTRA chief operating officer and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

But the managers group wasn’t sold.

“The Talent Managers Association has an established code of ethics all members are expected to adhere to, since its inception in 1954,” the group said in a statement provided to TheWrap Tuesday. “Our organization was in dialogue with SAG-AFTRA regarding their new Personal Managers Code of Ethics and Conduct.

“After thoughtful review and consultation with legal counsel our position is to advise members against signing the SAG-AFTRA code in its current highly restrictive and regulatory form. We stand for the most ethical protection of all actors whose careers we serve. Often our dedication to an actor comes long before the hope for material compensation or the actor being signed by an agency.

“Currently, there are counterproductive elements we believe that can be further revised for everyone’s benefit.”

Managers must agree to preconditions before signing on. Those who do will have their name and information listed on the SAG-AFTRA web site, just as current franchised agents are listed online.

A copy of the Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct can be viewed at www.sagaftra.org/managers.

The provisions include:

  • Putting the member’s interests above their own and not deriving personal gain at member’s expense.
  • Being truthful and acting in an honest, ethical and appropriate manner.
  • Acknowledging they will not solicit employment for their client, except under the control and direction of a franchised agent.
  • Encouraging SAG-AFTRA member clients to uphold their obligations to the union.
  • Keeping SAG-AFTRA member clients’ funds segregated in an escrow or trust account.
  • Never using self-renewing provisions or collecting upfront/advance fees or charges of any kind.
  • Respecting and supporting the relationship SAG-AFTRA members have with their talent agents.
  • Not being licensed by any state as a talent or employment agency.
  • Assisting a SAG-AFTRA member client’s search for a talent agent.
  •  Agreeing to arbitrate disputes through SAG-AFTRA.

Manager Gerry Pass of Chrome Artists Management said he was excited about the new guidelines.

“Today marks a great step forward in honest and ethical talent representation,” he said. “This is SAG-AFTRA’s recognition of the vital work that managers do on behalf of actors, while at the same time we see all talent managers held to a higher standard.”