As you are aware, late last year, the SAG and AFTRA National Boards both approved in principle the terms of an agreement concerning the conditions for negotiating the commercials contracts under the Phase One Agreement (the “Commercials Contracts Agreement”). The Commercials Contracts Agreement has now been finalized and approved by both unions. Copies will be distributed to both National Boards on February 7. You are receiving this communication because you are one of the union representatives covered by its termsIn addition to the provisions binding both unions to conduct the negotiations jointly, the Commercials Contracts Agreement contains a commitment to no-raiding and non-disparagement between the two unions and their representatives, including all staff, elected officers (on, for AFTRA, both the National and Local Boards, and for SAG, the National Board, the Division Boards, and the Branch Councils) and all national committee members.With respect to the no-raiding obligation, neither union nor its representatives as defined above may engage in any activity that could be construed as raiding under the AFL-CIO Constitution, beginning from the date of the union’s recognition or certification. For example, neither union may seek to represent or hold itself out as available to represent performers on any production as to which the other union is the bargaining representative. Similarly, neither union may encourage any performer working on any production to abandon representation by the other union.
The non-disparagement obligation prohibits either union or its representatives from disparaging the other union in communications to the public, the media or the membership. This prohibition is to be interpreted broadly to include /any /communication that is critical of the other union, that portrays the other union in a negative light or that is otherwise reasonably likely to diminish the other union in the minds of the membership or public, regardless of whether the person making the statement believes that it is true. There is a strict prohibition on all disparaging comments about the other union which are made or sent to members, the media or the public. There are certain limited exceptions, such as for comments made in informal, private conversations or in confidential, private governing body meetings and for candidates during union election campaigns.
In order to ensure that this rule is enforced, both unions have agreed that any non-joint communication to the membership, the public or the media that refers to the other union (or its officers or staff), either expressly or implicitly, /must /be submitted to the AFL-CIO facilitators for approval /before /it is issued. This pre-approval process for communications mentioning the other union is required for /all /such communications from staff and officers.
To ensure that each union adheres to the agreement to negotiate jointly, and to these non-disparagement and no-raiding rules, both unions have agreed to select an impartial Umpire to hear claims concerning raiding and disparagement or withdrawal from joint bargaining. The Umpire has the right to impose monetary fines for serious violations of these rules. Each union has agreed to place $2 million in an escrow account to ensure performance of its obligations under the agreement. A union is strictly responsible for the acts of its staff and defined representatives on a national, regional, and local or branch level.
While these restrictions may seem quite strict, both unions have agreed that they are necessary in order for the two unions to successfully engage in joint bargaining of the Commercials Contracts under the terms of Phase One. For members and staff who hold positions of responsibility in both unions, your cooperation in adhering to these commitments is critically important. Your failure to do so may result in substantial liability to your union and, as a result, anyone covered by this agreement may be subject to removal from office, disciplinary and/or legal action for violating these obligations.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance.