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SAG-AFTRA Establishes Voluntary Code for Personal Managers

SAG-AFTRA has announced its first-ever code covering ethics and conduct for managers representing its 160,000 members.

The performers union said Tuesday its Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct is a voluntary agreement designed to “promote honest and ethical relationships” between members and managers. It noted that it has never formally established a working relationship with the personal management community.

Three managers asked SAG-AFTRA to sign the agreement on Tuesday and SAG-AFTRA’s Agency Relations Department has changed its name to the SAG-AFTRA Professional Representatives Department.

The provisions of the agreement include one that managers will not solicit employment for their client, except under the control and direction of a franchised agent;  that clients’ funds will be kept segregated in an escrow or trust account; that managers will not use self-renewing provisions or collect upfront/advance fees or charges of any kind; and that disputes will be arbitrated through SAG-AFTRA.

Personal managers who sign the code will have their name and information listed on the SAG-AFTRA website — similar to how franchised agents are listed online.

“The establishment of the Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct is a true ‘win-win,’ assuring important protections for SAG-AFTRA members while providing significant and meaningful benefits to our listed personal managers,” said SAG-AFTRA Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland in a statement.

Zino Macaluso, the union’s national director and senior counsel of professional representatives, told Variety that managers signing up for the code will be provided “show sheets” listing all current productions covered by the union in Los Angeles and New York — a practice already in place for SAG-AFTRA franchised agents.

Macaluso also said that SAG-AFTRA will work with managers in the legislative arena, particularly on the issue of California’s 1978 Talent Agencies Act, which deregulated managers and has been interpreted as preventing them from procuring work. It contains the language, “No person shall engage in or carry on the occupation of a talent agency without first procuring a license therefore from the Labor Commissioner.”

Managers have long contended that the law enables actors to get out of management contracts without paying commissions.

Macaluso said the document was hammered out after years of input from our members and the management community, adding, “SAG-AFTRA looks forward to establishing a closer, mutually beneficial relationship with this community to advance the needs of all concerned.”

“Today marks a great step forward in honest and ethical talent representation,” said manager Gerry Pass of Chrome Artists Management. “This is SAG-AFTRA’s recognition of the vital work that managers do on behalf of actors, while at the same time we see all talent managers held to a higher standard. This is truly exciting.”

Agents who represent SAG-AFTRA members are currently regulated through the legacy SAG and AFTRA franchise agreements that pre-date the 2012 merger of the unions.

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