Agents consider options vs. SAG

Union expected to reject offer

The town’s agents may be daunted but they’re not backing off.

Agents continued to insist Tuesday that their landmark agreement with the Screen Actors Guild remains intact despite the union’s assertions to the contrary.

“We still believe we have a deal,” said Karen Stuart, executive director of the Assn. of Talent Agents, following a meeting of the organization’s board. “That has not changed.”

Stuart did not indicate whether ATA is considering legal action. But ATA’s basic position — that the deal was completed two weeks ago — has remained consistent despite the probability that SAG will officially repudiate the agreement in the coming weeks.

“The ATA can’t really do anything until SAG makes this official,” one source explained.

Some observers had expected the ATA to declare the deal dead in the wake of SAG president William Daniels’ announcement last week that he would seek a referendum on the agreement — which grants expanded power to agents in exchange for new protections for actors — by SAG’s entire 97,000 members. SAG’s membership is unlikely to approve such an agreement, particularly because it allows agents to operate with potential conflicts of interest.

Since the ATA agreed to all of SAG’s 25 proposals on the agreement on Feb. 16, the ATA argues that SAG cannot now decide to hold a referendum.ATA has argued it needs the new powers, which allow agents to invest in production and media companies and vice versa, in order to compete with talent managers, who are unregulated. It has also pointed out that SAG has not sanctioned members who allow managers to act as agents.

“SAG can’t have it both ways,” one agent complained. “They either need to enforce their charter or deregulate us.”

The 76-page agreement between SAG and ATA, last updated in 1990, provides that disputes over the contract will go to arbitration. That section would presumably cover allegations of bargaining in bad faith.

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