Unions, Ad Groups Agree to Extend Contract | Adweek Unions, Ad Groups Agree to Extend Contract | Adweek

Unions, Ad Groups Agree to Extend Contract


NEW YORK The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have agreed to another six-month extension of their commercials contract with two ad industry groups, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers.

The latest add-on follows a previous two-year extension to an October 2006 deal that was set to expire Oct. 29. The first extension was made to give time for a study on online compensation that was conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton. Details of the study haven't been made public.

The extension comes with SAG stuck in a stalemate with the studios and networks over a new television and film contract, which expired June 30. There are several unresolved issues, most notably compensation and jurisdiction for work in new media.

Another major sticking point is SAG's fractured relationship with AFTRA, with which it has bargained almost all of its major contracts for nearly three decades under an agreement known as Phase One. The joint bargaining relationship fell apart in late March, the culmination of a long, bitter feud between the unions.

After the relationship fell apart, AFTRA negotiated its own prime-time TV contract with producers, one that included the same new-media provisions accepted by the writers and directors unions but rejected by SAG.

"Today's announcement only deals with the extension," AFTRA spokesman John Hinrichs said. "A decision on Phase One and joint negotiations has to be decided by the AFTRA national board."

If the two unions do decide to negotiate a new commercials pact under Phase One, they would need time to meet with members, known as the wages and working conditions process.

"I think it's great news," said Sam Freed, president of SAG's New York board and the guild's second national vp. "We need the membership to be involved as much as they can. We need to know what they're finding out on the street in their day-to-day work lives. We also have to educate them on the new aspects of this contract, on how the Internet has changed the landscape of advertising.

"These commercials contracts were established when there were only three networks," Freed added. "They've obviously changed over the years to incorporate cable, but now it's changing so rapidly it's hard for the guild to keep up."