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SAG-AFTRA, Ad Industry Quietly Launch Contract Negotiations

SAG-AFTRA and the advertising industry are quietly launching commercial contract talks on Wednesday, six weeks before the current master contract expires on March 31.

Both sides have declined to comment on the talks, which will take place in New York City, and have already agreed to a news blackout until there’s a deal in place. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris is leading the negotiating committee for the union.

The current contract covers roughly $1 billion in annual earnings for performers. The union said in 2016 that the current three-year contract contained “more than $200 million” in pay hikes for members, including a 7% hike in minimum wage rates and a 1.2% increase in employer contributions to health and retirements funds.

SAG-AFTRA has been mobilizing members through an acrimonious strike against ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty. BBH abandoned its union contract in September, asserting that the agreement was outdated and accusing SAG-AFTRA of being inflexible. SAG-AFTRA told its members not to work for BBH, which has produced commercials for Audi, Absolut, Ikea, Samsung, and Virgin Media.

The union has held dozens of protests against BHH; a recent rally at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles drew nearly 1,000 members. SAG-AFTRA also took out a full-page ad unveiled Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, similar to one in Variety last week.

Signers of the statement of support include Tom Hanks, Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Alec Baldwin, Rachel Brosnahan, and Octavia Spencer. More than 5,000 of SAG-AFTRA’s 160,000 members have also signed the ad.

“We stand united with our fellow performers who work in commercials and seek access to fair wages, safe sets, access to healthcare, and a meaningful pension,” the statement said. “It’s time for advertisers and agencies like Bartle Bogle Hegarty Inc. to do the right thing. When you make an ad, make it union.”

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