UPDATE: Keeping with their usual taciturn approach, SAG-AFTRA issued a brief statement saying that the first day of their talks with the ad industry over Commercials Contracts was “cordial and positive.” The union also said that both parties have agree on a media blackout and that they “will have no further comment” on the negotiations.
PREVIOUSLY, 11:56 AM: In its first contract negotiation since last spring’s merger, the now united SAG-AFTRA is sitting down today in New York for talks with the ad industry over its Commercials Contract. Covering about $1 billion in yearly earnings, the current three-year agreement expires March 31. SAG-AFTRA has been tight-lipped about anything to do with today’s talks with committees from the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers. On February 3, the union board approved a package of proposals for the upcoming negotiations but provided no details about what was in them or what they were looking for compared with the last deal, which was inked in 2009. There has been no indication the union plans to move toward a strike like in 2000, when SAG and AFTRA went out on a six-month action after talks with the ad industry collapsed primarily over how Internet ads would be covered. The current talks originally were set to start last year, but SAG-AFRTA said in late July it was cancelling early bargaining due to “data challenges encountered during the Gross Ratings Point Pilot Project conducted pursuant to the 2009 Commercials Contract.” Today’s start date was announced in early December.
Currently, SAG-AFTRA is in the final stretch of a one-year extension to the contract, which included a $36 million pay raise over three years as well as the long-sought online payment rights and structures. Union co-president Roberta Reardon is leading the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee with National Executive Director David White and other union reps.