Ten days into a national strike against the makers of commercials for television and the Internet, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) have filed an "unfair labor practice charge" against the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) of the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
Both actors' unions claim ad makers have refused to bargain over the mandatory subject of compensation to employees for work in commercials showing on the Internet. Actors enjoy a unique residual system that rewards then highly if they can find the coveted commercial spots that run repeatedly on broadcast media. However, not all broadcastmedia pay the same.
Actors seek to up the rates for cable residuals, which were negotiated prior to the advent of modern cable television, which has grown to represent a large share of the industry. Moreover, having learned from making early concessions to the cable television industry, the actors also seek to establish a residual schedule for commercials for the internet.
In a prepared statement, SAG's chief negotiator, John McGuire said that, “The ad industry is unwilling to bargain over the issue of commercials made directly for Internet use, despite the fact that nearly every major ad agency has now established New Media divisions [that are] actively pursuing how best to utilize the Internet for commercial purposes."
McGuire indicated that the current situation between talent and ad makers illustrates their failure to bargain "in good faith." Strike activity continues May 16 with a large rally planned on the picket line at the offices of General Motors, located on Madison between 58th and 59th.
There has been measurable progress toward a resolution of the labor issue. Interim agreements between SAG and AFTRA have been signed with some 564 commercial producers. These agreements stipulate the ad maker's acceptance of proposed union terms and therefore allow union members to work for the advertiser or advertising agency during the strike period.
SAG reports securing 564 signatories to the interim agreements so far in the 2000 strike, which beats the total signed for the same period in the 1988 strike -- 500.
The SAG statement indicated that the union(s) sought contracts that would reflect "the contributions they [actors] make to the bottom lines of companies around the world through their commercial performances."
-- By Murdoch McBride