Scripting a strike

Blurb producers prepare for actors' walkout

In a sign reflecting the increased possibility of a work stoppage, commercials producers have prepared strike contingency plans with two weeks left on their contract with the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.

The American Assn. of Advertising Agencies and the Assn. of National Advertisers, the agencies representing advertisers in negotiations with performers, have issued a three-page memo to members on how to proceed if a strike occurs. Among its recommendations:

  • Producers may hire anyone after contract expiration on March 31.

  • Actors should be paid the same rate as they would have had unions accepted the advertisers’ proposal of a one-time payment of $2,045.45 for unlimited use during a 13-week period.

  • Working conditions of the expired contract should be followed.

  • Pension and health contributions do not have to be made for nonunion performers, while producers using union members should make the standard 12.65% contribution.

  • “Capable” nonunion performers are available in major production centers and smaller production locales such as Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.

  • Commercials may be produced overseas, although SAG may ask sister unions in Australia, Canada and Britain to have members refrain from performing.

Negotiators are in their third week of meetings in New York. Actors are seeking 20% higher base pay and improved cable and foreign agreements while producers have asked for cost-cutting concessions.

“While we hope for a successful conclusion to these negotiations, there is always the possibility that the parties will be unable to reach an agreement and the unions will elect to call a strike,” said Kathleen C. Quinn, vice president of the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies.

SAG also announced Thursday that public affairs program chief Rafe Greenlee will step down later this month to join a Texas-based venture capital firm. Greenlee joined SAG in early 1998 as a media consultant on its campaign over Saban Entertainment’s labor practices and joined the communications office in August.

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