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SAG probes non-union ads

Guild website seeks info from members

The Screen Actors Guild is asking members for information about non-union casting calls for commercials — and promising that it will keep the information anonymous.

In a posting on its website Friday, SAG said it’s seeking to learn more about non-union casting calls for commercials in order to better serve and represent the members.

“If you have any recent knowledge of non-union casting calls, please take a few minutes to fill out this brief survey with whatever information about the casting call that you wish to provide,” it said. “All information provided is completely anonymous and will be used to help us better understand the non-union work space and create more work opportunities for our members.”

Ray Rodriguez, national exec director of contracts, told Variety that the idea originated with the guild’s Spanish-language task force, given that such commercials are more of an issue for Spanish-language performers. “We’re trying to develop as much insight as we can,” Rodriguez said. “The fact is that member earnings are up for commercials. It’s not in response to any kind of spike in non-union work.”

Rodriguez also said there’s no agreed-upon metric for measuring non-union work and added that the survey will probably remain on the SAG website for six months. SAG covers about $800 million in commercials earnings from its members, based on pension and health contributions from employers.

Rodriguez said the survey’s unrelated to a recent move by leaders of SAG and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists to ask the ad industry for a one-year extension of the current commercials pact, which would move the expiration back to March 31, 2013.

SAG and AFTRA struck for six months against the ad industry in 2000. The guild subsequently disciplined 187 non-union thesps for crossing picket lines during the strike — 133 membership bans ranging from six months to 4 1/2 years, along with 54 bans for the maximum five years.

SAG also fined Elizabeth Hurley and Tiger Woods $100,000 each for performing in non-union spots during the strike.

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