SAG, AFTRA ads contract OK'd despite protests
Members of the industry’s two top performers unions overwhelmingly approved a new contract for commercial performers, despite a series of vocal protests in front of union offices.The new pact, which opponents criticized as failing to make major gains in cable TV, was passed by 93% of the voters in the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. A total of 31,237 ballots were returned, or 25.3% of the 123,222 ballots that were mailed to members. The contract includes an 8% increase in session fees, a 20% jump in Spanish-language network use payments and a 45% average increase in cable use rates, among other gains. Something for everyone The rates are retroactive to April 1 of this year. The new contract will be in effect through March 31, 2000. In the past few weeks, protesters had picketed the offices of SAG and AFTRA, calling the gains in cable too little given the growth of the industry. Central to their concerns had been that the current structure of cable payments fails to prevent overexposure. The contract continues to include a “cap” after which actors get no additional payment each time that a spot runs in a 13-week cycle. Some performers complained that “overexposure” prevents them from getting future jobs because they have been on spots too much. Stunt performers also protested the new agreement because it failed to provide recognition of stunt coordinators. Work in progress SAG officials concede that there is still work to be done, but nevertheless defend the gains made in the cable area as significant. The issue of cable payments is expected to be a hot topic when SAG and AFTRA negotiate a new TV and theatrical agreement next year.