SAG-AFTRA Sets Schedule for Ad Contract Proposals

SAG-AFTRA has set Oct. 19 as the starting date for its “wages and working conditions” meetings with the membership to hammer out proposals for its negotiations with the advertising industry.

Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez made the disclosure Tuesday during a national board meeting, adding that he expected the meetings to conclude around Nov. 30.

Variety reported two months ago that SAG-AFTRA and the ad industry had set a February start for negotiations for a successor deal to the union’s master contract.

The current three-year deal — which covers about $1 billion in annual earnings — expires on March 31. It was the first major successor agreement to go into effect under the 2012 merger of SAG and AFTRA and received 96% support in the ratification vote, with pay increases totaling $238 million during its three-year life.

SAG-AFTRA’s rules require that the union leadership appoint a negotiating committee that will conduct “wages and working conditions” meetings, then meet with the national board for approval of that package before negotiations begin.

In the 2013 negotiations, which lasted two months, SAG-AFTRA made little effort to mobilize members in support of its positions. But earlier this year, the union launched a campaign against performing work in the fast-growing non-union commercial sector in what’s been dubbed the Commercials Organizing and Recapture Initiative.

SAG-AFTRA also said the board received a confidential finance report from Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin and Chief Financial Officer Arianna Ozzanto and reported that results for its first quarter ended July 31 are “on plan and tracking to budget.”

SAG-AFTRA disclosed few other details about its two-day board meeting, which was preceded by its four-day biennial convention that was closed to the media, other than listing who had made reports to the board and given speeches at the convention. For the past six years, President Ken Howard and National Executive David White have opted to keep details of contract negotiations under the radar until the conclusion of negotiations.

Howard has headed the moderate Unite for Strength faction since 2009.

The board meeting was the first since Howard narrowly won re-election in a spirited campaign over Patricia Richardson, who headed the self-styled progressives of the Membership First faction. During the convention, attended by about 400 delegates, White urged the two factions to keep their policy differences in private — “keep it in the room” — in order to prevent employers from playing one side against the other at the bargaining table.

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