Guild's nondisparagement agreement stressed

HOLLYWOOD — SAG interim national exec director David White has warned elected reps about potential violations of the guild’s nondisparagement agreement with AFTRA.

In a message sent Thursday, White said that several unnamed individuals covered by the terms of the agreement had made public statements, including some found on the Internet, that “raise concerns” about attacking AFTRA.

The Sagwatch blog recently posted links to the video of David Jolliffe, head of SAG’s now-abolished feature-primetime negotiating team, criticizing the AFTRA primetime deal at a March 4 rally opposing the congloms’ final offer.

White’s missive was sent to members of the national board of directors, division boards of directors, branch councils, national committees, alternates to these bodies and staff:

“I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone receiving this message that each of us is subject to the terms of the agreement and must not engage in making any public statements that are disparaging toward AFTRA, its staff or elected leadership,” White said. “This prohibition applies regardless of the form of the statement (e.g. written, oral or electronic, including videos) and includes, we should assume, the act of forwarding someone else’s email.”

SAG agreed to the nondisparagement pact last October as part of patching up its relationship with AFTRA in order to conduct joint negotiations for the commercials contract (Daily Variety, Oct. 20). That agreement came seven months after AFTRA angrily split with its rival on primetime contract talks.

The nondisparagement agreement — brokered by the AFL-CIO — includes the imposition of fines for violations and covers elected officials and committee members commenting in private or public on any interunion issue. Each union’s required to post a bond of more than $2 million in reserve to serve as a pool from which to mete out fines against any offenders.

White said Thursday that it’s permissible for AFTRA members who are also SAG leaders to write directly to the AFTRA president and VP and/or to the AFTRA board to protest, but he also pointed out that it’s critical that such communications be private and not for the public or mass emails.

“The terms of the joint bargaining agreement provide for financial and other potentially severe penalties to be imposed against either union if their covered leadership engages in violations of this agreement,” White said. “It is critical, therefore, that we each take our responsibility to abide by this agreement seriously to avoid causing harm to the guild.  Please use your best judgment in determining whether any communication that you may contemplate issuing contains statements that are problematic in light of this agreement.”

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