SAG-AFTRA Board Approves Commercial Contract

Ratification ballots sent out May 1

SAG-AFTRA leaders have approved a new three-year commercials contract, triggering a ratification vote by members for the successor deal.

In a meeting Sunday, the union’s national board unanimously approved the deal reached with the ad industry on April 6.

Key provisions call for a 6% wage hike and for Pension and Health contributions to increase from 15.5% to 16.8%. Contract will be retroactive to April 1.

The contract, which currently covers about $1 billion in annual earnings, will see increases in payments of $238 million over its term via wage increases and other payments, improvements in cable use fees, increases in payments for work on the Internet and new media platforms, and an increase in the late payment fee.

“This is a great deal for SAG-AFTRA members,” said SAG-AFTRA co-president Roberta Reardon (pictured above), who headed the negotiations committee. “We made important gains on these contracts that provide our members with the solid foundation they need to sustain their careers and families.”

The board also approved online voting for ratification as well as traditional paper ballots to ratify the commercials deal.

All members in good standing as of April 1 — about 160,000 — will automatically receive a postcard with voting instructions. The postcard will be mailed May 1 and votes must be received by May 31 to be counted.

Reps of SAG-AFTRA and the Joint Policy Committee of the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies and the Assn. of National Advertisers began negotiations on a successor deal on Feb. 14.

The union and the industry have been operating under a one-year extension to the three-year contract reached in 2009. SAG and AFTRA sought and received the extension in mid-2011 in order to focus their efforts on a merger, which was approved by members last March.

SAG-AFTRA’s buttoned-down approach to negotiations offered a vivid contrast to the six-month strike that crippled the blurb biz 13 years ago. Prior to the 2013 negotiations, the union held the required “wages and working conditions” meetings with members last year to formulate its proposal but made no subsequent efforts to mobilize the members about the issues.

It’s the first major contract to come up for renewal by SAG-AFTRA since members approved merging SAG and AFTRA last March following a robust campaign that promised more bargaining power.

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