Holding the ranks

Ad orgs urge members to balk on interim deals

HOLLYWOOD — As union actors prepare to strike advertisers next week, both sides have turned their focus on “interim” agreements that will allow continued production with union members after the May 1 strike starts.

The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television & Radio Artists will begin offering those agreements today as advertisers’ organizations implore members to show unity and not sign. The pacts will contain the last version of a contract proposal by SAG/AFTRA before negotiations collapsed on April 14.

A SAG spokesman said Monday that one advertiser had expressed interest in signing such a deal. The unions’ ability to generate signings of interim agreements will be a key signal as to advertisers’ willingness to endure a prolonged work stoppage by union actors.

The American Assn. of Advertising Agencies and the Assn. of National Advertisers, which have repped the industry in the negotiations, recently told members, “The advertising industry must stand together and NOT sign ‘interim’ agreements with unions.”

“You will severely undercut the industry’s negotiating power for both now and in the future if you sign interim agreements,” the groups said.

‘Ill-advised and costly’

The warning also said signing such deals will obligate advertisers to pay up to 350% more in cable residuals and other “ill-advised and costly” union proposals that boost network residuals by 14% and an industry-opposed system for Internet compensation. The groups also warned that signers will likely be bound by the interim pact even after the strike is settled and noted that the industry can use non-union talent to produce commercials.

Matt Miller, president of the Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers, predicted that few advertisers will break ranks. “I expect SAG and AFTRA will go after companies that are unknowledgeable to sign deals, but I think they will only be successful with one or two.”

SAG and AFTRA, which have accused the industry of trying to institute a rollback of residuals, plan to hold an organizational meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Universal Sheraton Hotel, followed by rallies the next day in Los Angeles and New York. The unions have set up 14 strike information phone lines nationwide.

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