SAG supports sooner talks for ad contract

Pact expires Oct. 29, early start to negotiaitions desired

SAG wants earlier negotiations for its ad contract. Talks are tentatively slated to start Sept. 3.

“We have issued an open invitation to advertisers to go as soon as the consolidation process is complete, which should be by July,” SAG chief exec Bob Pisano told Daily Variety. The proposed SAG-AFTRA merger would leave the ad contract — which generates about $700 million in annual earnings — in the hands of the SAG affiliate.

SAG’s ad contract expires Oct. 29, but Pisano indicated SAG’s elected leaders have endorsed the idea of seeking an earlier start to avoid down-to-the-wire bargaining. He also said ad-industry reps have not been willing to budge from the September start.

SAG and AFTRA struck for six months over the ad contract in 2000, and the WGA and actors unions took their respective negotiations past expiration in 2001.

The SAG-AFTRA merger is expected to receive approval Saturday from the national boards following presentation of due-diligence reviews of the two orgs’ financial operations. Approval will trigger a vote by both memberships, with ballots expected to be mailed out after Memorial Day and returned by the end of June.

The boards also will decide whether it is appropriate to publicly disclose further financial information beyond federal requirements. SAG’s LM-2 filing shows total assets of $56.8 million and liabilities of $45.9 million as of April 30, 2002; AFTRA’s shows assets of $7.3 million and liabilities of $5.5 million.

The merger will create an umbrella union with affiliates for actors, broadcasters and recording artists. “It will clarify the mission of each affiliate to focus on the main issue of negotiating and enforcing contracts while giving the combined union more power,” AFTRA prexy John Connolly said.

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