SAG-AFTRA Members OK Commercials Contract By 96%

Contract goes into effect immediately, retroactive to April 1

SAG-AFTRA members have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year commercials contract with 96% support among those voting.

It’s the first major successor agreement to go into effect under the year-old merger of SAG and AFTRA.

Approval had been expected. The union’s national board had unanimously approved the deal on April 21 and no organized opposition had emerged.

The new deal provides for increases totaling $238 million during its three-year life. SAG-AFTRA national co-president Roberta Reardon, who chaired the negotiating committee, said in a statement, “The significance of this ratification is two-fold. Not only are these the first major contracts negotiated as SAG-AFTRA, but the contracts’ provisions provide for great improvements in the lives of our members and their families.”

SAG-AFTRA National Co-President Ken Howard said, “The commercials agreements represent important gains for tens of thousands of our members across the country and address longstanding concerns which bring the commercials agreements up to date in a variety of areas.”

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

The contract, which currently covers about $1 billion in annual earnings, will see increases in payments 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.

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 in March, 2012.

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.

The new deal mandates using a standard digital identifier — dubbed Ad-ID — for all ads using SAG-AFTRA members as of March 31, 2014. The implementation date has been set for next year in order to give the ad industry time to become accustomed to using the identifier.

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