AIP034 | Why You Should Vote No for the SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract

Host (and actor) Ben Hauck explains in detail why SAG-AFTRA actors should vote no on the proposed 2016 Commercials Contract.

In the episode, Ben outlines some of the important losses SAG-AFTRA actors will experience should they ratify this contract negotiated recently between the union and commercial producers. Namely, actors will lose use fees they typically get when their commercials are played. They’ll lose these use fees (which could equal hundreds to thousands of dollars) when their commercials are simultaneously streamed on the Internet, New Media, or a future technology, and they’ll also lose them when their commercials are edited for special offers and promotions.

In addition, SAG-AFTRA actors will be paid later than in the prior commercials contract. Furthermore, the proposed contract does not include a precise definition for the term “commercial,” which means that a later definition may prompt the union to give away more of your use without payment to you.

Ben points out that the press release SAG-AFTRA put out points up the increases the union accomplished in the negotiation, but it doesn’t include what the union lost for actors. Given this and other wordings in the press release, Ben deems the SAG-AFTRA press release as “propagandistic” — an attempt to persuade members to vote yes on a contract that freely gives away fees for the commercial actor more valuable than the 7% wage increase the contract provides.

Ben urges SAG-AFTRA actors to vote no (#VoteNo and #VoteHellNo), but even more generally to simply vote — even if they haven’t worked in commercials yet. He explains their vote — or failure to vote — may affect the commercials contract they work under in the future. If SAG-AFTRA members choose not to ratify this proposed commercials contract, Ben says actors are not urging a strike so much as urging a continued negotiation to address the important compensation to actors that the union has bargained away in this proposed contract — compensation that is aimed contractually at ensuring actors can work in commercials, be paid of the use of their work, and survive inevitable periods of unemployment that being identified in commercials creates.

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Documents Related to the 2016 SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract

The following documents relate to the tentative agreement on the 2016 Commercials Contract between SAG-AFTRA and the Joint Policy Committee (i.e., commercial producers), forged on April 3, 2016.

SAG-AFTRA members will vote whether to ratify the agreement. Ballots were mailed beginning on April 18, 2016.

This is the 2013 Commercials Contract, which expired on March 31, 2016, then was extended during recent negotiations to expire on April 2, 2016:

These documents show the exact changes to be made to the 2013 Commercials Contract:

This document from the SAG-AFTRA press release on the tentative agreement provides a tidier summary of the changes to the 2013 Commercials Contract:

Waldorf Astoria Hotel

The negotiations took place at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Article

The following article from tells of the JPC’s push to remove use fees from commercials edited into special offers and promotions.

The passage referenced in the podcast episode reads:

[T]he advertisers and ad agencies pressed hard for a small provision that Quinn had been pushing for years. It allows fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and single-brand retailers like Apple – like all other advertisers – to edit existing ads for special promotional offers without triggering payments for a whole new commercial. In past negotiations, the ad industry had always traded this away for something else, but this time, in her memory, they held firm and got it. “She did a solid for McDonald’s and Apple,” a source laughed ruefully.

Definition of “Stock Footage”

I reference the Wikipedia entry for “stock footage,” retrieved on April 18, 2016.

Commercial Wage Estimator

The following calculator (in beta on the SAG-AFTRA website) is aimed at producers to estimate the cost of hiring a SAG-AFTRA actor for a commercial. If you are an actor, you can use it to estimate your payments for a SAG-AFTRA commercial based on some general information about the commercial:


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