Talking Points

“They’re trying to turn actors into a 3rd world economy so that they can stay home and not have to travel to cheaper labor countries.” -Jim Connor

UnionWorking is a part of the burgeoning Labor Rights Movement. We are not out to Change The World, but we are fighting to save our little part of it. Our fight against the non-union destruction of our Industry is bigger than just us. Our actions to preserve our Union will maintain wages and working conditions for all workers, because Unions set the Standard of Living for All Workers, Union and Non-union.

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is the voice of UnionWorking, an independent group of union actors. UW views and opinions are independent and while some may be shared by the SAG-AFTRA leadership and staff, SAG-AFTRA was not involved in any way with the creation of these opinions.

UW/Union Credo Fi-Core Truths Off The Card
Contracts/W&W Non-Union Reality Selfie Shout-Outs
Election Reform Member Joining Web Technology
Economy 101 Union Truths FAQ’s

Did You Know

The Conservatory Union Incentives Tax Incentives/Cuts
CD Perspective Commercial Survey Kantar Service

UW/Union Credo

UnionWorking suggests you read this – Union Tactics Matter – Cornell University

-Union = Professionalism = Value. Union actors make a production more efficient, make a better product, and therefore worth the cost.

-Yes, SAG-AFTRA has problems, but it is up to the MEMBERS to fix the Union, not abandon it.

Membership drives and informs Leadership. Unions who followed the “top-down, leadership dictates to membership” model have become extinct.

-Honor Global Rule One: Only accept union work as union members. Do NOT work OFF THE CARD. To be a good union member, pay your dues and don’t work off the card. Collective Bargaining, Strength in Numbers, Don’t victimize yourself and damage your fellow peers by working OFF THE CARD.

-We are the Union and the Union is only as strong as its membership. When we support each other our Union is strong, our wages go up. Working off the card weakens our position and our wages go down.

-While 50% of SAG nationwide is in Hollywood, we need all union members to get on the UW train. We are the Union, not the people in the offices at 5757 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA.

-Union members employ the staff and the staff cannot enforce what the membership doesn’t require.

-With the state of healthcare in the U.S., union insurance provides virtually unrivaled care for you.

-Union workers set the standard of living for ALL WORKERS, even non-union workers. Without unions, the standards for wages and workplace conditions go away.

-Multi-National conglomerates and corporations want unions to disappear so they can cut our wages, benefits, and workplace safety standards. Don’t help them hurt all workers by working non-union.

-Achieving union status means experience, commitment to the craft, a working knowledge of the industry and it means you agree to the contract written BY MEMBERSHIP.

-Being a UNION member means our collectively bargained negotiations will be honored, union wages will be paid, working conditions enforced and an eventual retirement pension earned.

-Working UNION means you have the skill to, not only get the project done, but to make it better.

Off The Card

-UnionWorking has joined the WeSeeYou campaign started in early 2018 by over 400 SAG-AFTRA Stunt Performers, Singers, and Dancers. WeSeeYou is identifying violators of GLOBAL RULE ONE.

-UnionWorking strongly believes that the non-unionization of our commercial industry over the last five years is a major threat to the healthy future of talent agencies, entertainment unions, and our community as a whole. You’re lowering everyone’s wages when you work, OTC. WeSeeYou.

-UnionWorking is reporting union performers working “Off The Card” to the #AdsGoUnion hotline of the SAG-AFTRA Commercials Organization and Recapture Initiative (C.O.R.I.). WeSeeYou.

-Union members who choose to work “Off The Card” whether claiming to be Fi-Core at the audition or are simply scabbing for work, WeSeeYou. From 1/1/17-12/31/17 approximately 62 actors have been caught (1 per week) and brought before the disciplinary review where they face substantial fines and even expulsion through theSAG-AFTRA C.O.R.I. #AdsGoUnion effort. Technology is making it easier than ever to catch violators. WeSeeYou.

-UnionWorking will report union actors auditioning for non-union productions and working “Off The Card” on non-union sets. Non-union commercials, appearing on television or the Internet, will be checked againstSAG-AFTRA P&H to determine union status and catch violators. WeSeeYou.

-SAG-AFTRA representatives, not affiliated with the member-driven WeSeeYou, will also be visiting non-union production sets throughout your city.

-UnionWorking appreciates the mutually beneficial relationship between agent and client. Together, we have weathered the daunting changes in our commercial industry over the past few years. We know, as agents, you care deeply about your clients. However, if you’re suggesting, encouraging or engaging in your clients working “Off The Card”, WeSeeYou.

-Additionally, UnionWorking does not understand, nor accepts, commercial agents who advise their union clients to go Fi-Core, and therefore WeSeeYou as being part of the problem and definitely not part of the solution. There is no future in non-union work – for any of us. Please do not allow your client’s short-term financial situation to ruin their long-term goal of success as well as your own.

-UnionWorking knows that living standards matter for all workers. Only Union work provides a sustainable living wage, health benefits and workplace protections. Working ‘Off The Card’ gives aid and support to those anti-labor factions out to destroy unions to increase profits shared by a privileged few.

-UnionWorking understands that it is financially very difficult to make a living as an actor, but union members performing non-union work help corporate brands improve their bottom line at an actor’s expense. They don’t have to make a better product, they just need to cut labor costs. UnionWorking believes we are stronger as ONE. Help us keep our industry healthy and viable for all.

Contracts/W&W

Note: The SAG-AFTRA commercial contract revenue, on average, is approximately 1 billion dollars annually. 2017 was the first year, in many years that commercial earnings fell below 1 billion. It seems highly likely that this decline will happen again in 2018. Our pension/health plans and all union members are affected when union earnings decrease. Please realize that this is every union member’s problem whether you’re working or not. The SAG-AFTRA pension fund health has long depended on thriving union commercial work.


W&W Caucuses at SAG-AFTRA Plaza (5757 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036)

Topic and When:
July 24, 7-9 p.m. – Background Performers (James Cagney Boardroom)
July 31, 7-9 p.m. – Stunt Performers (James Cagney Boardroom)
Aug. 6, 6-8  p.m. – Dancers (James Cagney Boardroom)
Aug. 14, 7-9 p.m. – EEO/Diversity (Frank Maxwell Room)
Aug. 16, 7-9 p.m. – Spanish Language Performers (Frank Maxwell Room)
Aug. 20, 6-8 p.m. – Singers (Frank Maxwell Room)

It is only through the involvement of members that proposals for this vital negotiation are developed. There are three ways to make your voice heard:

  1. Commercials W&W Caucuses – Join your fellow members to discuss what really matters! Open to all paid-up SAG-AFTRA members, the caucuses are free-form sessions where you can express any issue you feel should be addressed in the upcoming negotiations. Input from the caucuses directly effects the proposals formed by the Commercials Wages & Working Conditions Committee.
  2. Wages & Working Conditions Committee Meetings – These formal meetings use the information and ideas gathered from the caucuses to create proposals for the 2019 contract negotiations. Meetings will begin nationwide beginning in October of 2018.  Check your emails and the Los Angeles Local web page at safaftra.org for the specific dates and times.
  3. Email Suggestions – Can’t make it to a caucus or committee meeting? You can still play an active part by emailing your ideas to commercialswandw@sagaftra.org. All proposal recommendations will be reviewed by the Wages & Working Conditions Committee.

-The Commercials contract process is: The W&W (Working & Wages) meetings > the Plenary process > on to the Negotiating Committee > then proposals are presented to the National Board. Proposals are then amended/accepted or dismissed and then we negotiate with the JPC (Joint Producers Committee).

-As of 6/1/18, the Commercial negotiating team has already been chosen/seated so there are only Alternate positions available and while we would love to post all of the W&W meetings for this process we’re not able to because our union has not provided them. The Co-Chairs are Katie Von Till and David Jolliffe.

-It is 2018 and virtually our entire Commercial contracts/payments/residuals are still based on the model of a “Unit” which is calculated at: 350K Households = 1 Unit.

-UnionWorking is looking to create several proposals for our eventual negotiations that truly consider the state of Broadcast television versus the truth regarding streaming, Apps, Internet, New Media, Banner Ads, Addressable Media, IT/Face Recognition as well as offering up the first historical proposal for Influencer commercial content. InstaGram has tripled its value since 2015 – just imagine it in 2022.

-UnionWorking is committed to addressing the concept of guarantee’s, modular contracts, multiple options, varied ideas of modified buyout’s as well as the costs for payroll companies to track residuals.

-Most SAG-AFTRA members do not realize that the JPC is the Signatory Ad Agency body with which we negotiate our contract and yet, part of your working commercial income goes to pay for the JPC’s existence.

-Corporate greed is driven by the shareholder and represented by cost consultants who have become exceedingly popular. Actors are being made scapegoats when it is more accurately the Ad Agencies that are responsible for high budgets, not actors. Remember, Clients hire the Agency who seeks out a Non-Signatory Production Co. who then files a Waiver to get around our contract. Wall St. doesn’t care about labor.

-Our Commercials contract sunsets (ends) 6/30/19. , Influencer content will likely be up 25% or more of advertising dollars spent so we must avoid the failure of our Union back in the late 90s and early 21st Century as it pertained to Cable and Digital technology. We’ve lost millions of dollars since ’00 by not focusing on the future. This commercial negotiation must include an Influencer Commercial content agreement.

UNION/MEMBER RELATED ISSUES:

-It is a widely held opinion that SAG-AFTRA views the Commercial Division is its bastard child.

-We’ve seen recent improvement but we need our Union to aggressively pursue members that break the rules.

-SAG-AFTRA and the DGA have virtually no relationship, which severely affects our negotiation leverage.

Non-Union Reality

Note: UnionWorking needs your active help to end the belief that actors are millionaires when the real fight is to preserve a living wage for 80+% of union actors! An actor can go annually from six figures to making 18K. A union member choosing to work off the card harms every union member. UnionWorking also wants to assist the SAG-AFTRA leadership in ending the partisan mess of ’08-’18, as factions are not helping the membership.

-Non-Union combo platter: Conflicts + Overexposure + Union busting. Producers simply will NOT hire an ACTOR for a union project, or any project, when that actor’s FACE is appearing in five non-union commercials on the Internet, social media, and broadcast TV. Think about it – real hard.

 -Non-Union does NOT pay a living wage: An actor will have to book 8-10 non-union spots to make the same amount of money for 2 union spots. Even if an actor can book ten non-union spots, a big IF, that actor has capped his earnings at $25,000 for the year. After taxes, that goes down to $20k. When you add in your agent commission it is $15k and no residuals. That is NOT an American living wage.

-Non-union conflicts: Even if the non-union spot is not holding conflicts, every Union commercial production checks a potential actor’s social media, IMDb, and iSpot. If that actor has done a non-union spot for a competitor, then you can be assured, that actor will not be cast in a competitor’s new spot.

-The extremely RARE one year $25k non-union buyout: Working off the card on this project just saved a Corporate Brand from making a $4,250 contribution to SAG-AFTRA Pension & Health. That would be your eventual Pension & Health. The Brand also saved thousands more not paying union residuals and not hiring a Payroll Company to distribute that possible extra $15,000 in residuals were it a union project. Most importantly, this actor took the bait of “almost union compensation” to collude with this corporate brand to help continue the busting of his or her own union.

-Non-union addiction: Are you working for a living or just for the “ego” of working? A union actor who proudly boasts of six non-union bookings and two union spots in the last year should be reminded that he or she has a non-union ADDICTION. This actor is probably supporting this non-union addiction with a few random union gigs and a side job. UnionWorking feels that this “actor needs HELP.”

-The non-union vicious downward spiral: The more non-union jobs you take the less Union you’ll get. This is a domino of professional self-destruction fueled by non-union addiction. After 2-3 years of this activity you might want to buy an old van and live under a bridge. It isn’t funny because it’s quite true.

Selfie Shout-Outs

Create a UnionWorking Selfie “Shout-Out” and post it everywhere with @UnionWorking. Click here for UW selfie shout-out scripted options and production protocol!

Election Reform

Note: UnionWorking is an independent group of passionate working actors. We understand SAG-AFTRA is made up of the membership and the paid staff and they’re two very different entities. Additionally, its imperative you’re clear that there is a vast difference between the governance (Constitution) of SAG-AFTRA versus the governance of how we attain our elected leadership versus our negotiated contracts. With that said we simply ask the question and render these thoughts about “how we elect” our leadership. For your consideration…

-Do you feel that SAG-AFTRA should establish an Independent Commission to evaluate and recommend improvements to our Election System? (Historical note: A resolution was passed by the National Delegates in the 2017 at the SAG-AFTRA Convention and then it was voted down at a National Board Meeting in April ’18.)

-The current cost to the individual union member to “run for a board seat or higher” is fairly significant. In a digital world do you think that the cost of campaign literature and communications should be vastly reduced?

-Do you feel that SAG-AFTRA should provide a more detailed Voter Guide on the union website?

-Do you feel that any union member who chooses to run for an elected office within SAG-AFTRA should have to meet certain experience qualifications for Local Board, National Board, and Officer Positions? The point being is whether you feel it should be necessary that you’ve “worked a certain amount” within your own profession before being elected to a position that then affects the future of those working? We’re not offering suggestions of what those qualifications would be…we’re just asking if you feel it is a good thing or necessary. Concepts could be elements such as: Credits – Pension credits – Plan II health qualification…etc.

-Do you think that there should be a limitation on the number of Local and National Committees upon which any one member can be elected and serve? (ie: One committee position per member)

-Do you believe that there should be “Term Limits” to some elected positions, all of them, or none of them?

-Do you believe that Union Officers emailing the SAG-AFTRA membership 60 days before election should be considered electioneering?

-Do you feel that membership should have better access to Board Members/Officers via email? This would require the creation of individual (Boardmember)@sagaftra.org email addresses on the SAG-AFTRA website.

-Do you feel that there should be a “Commitment” agreement between SAG-AFTRA and any member who desires to run for office, in that they agree to be committed to do the job, if elected? (This question exists due to the history and commonality of Celebrities, who use their name recognition to get elected, but then either immediately resign and appoint unelected candidates or virtually never actively serve in their position.)

-Do you believe that when elected the ability to immediately resign have strict scope and requirements to avoid the reality of just being “elected in name?”

-Do you feel that if elected, with the intent to serve, but never attend board meetings etc., that there should be specific rules about a de-facto forfeiture of your board seat?

-Do you feel that if some of the above questions became a reality and an elected person could legitimately resign or lose their seat due to lack of attendance, should that seat be allowed to be assigned by the elected person at their discretion or that the now available seat should just go to the next highest vote getter?

We would love to hear your thoughts on these with clear reasons for your answer if necessary. Please email info@unionworking.com. And we thank you for your time, interest and perspective.

Web Technology

-SAG-AFTRA must finally adapt to the 21st century reality of how fast commercials are being produced along with the various platforms, lengths and ways they’re being aired and utilized in the marketplace.

-SAG-AFTRA must immediately dedicate time-money into streamlining the contract process to become more user friendly to producers. Minneapolis (Twin-Cities) has created a Beta version of what we mean and here it is: http://sagaftranumbers.sagaftra.org/, and yet, this has not been finished and it must be…ASAP.

-We must alter the “way” that we’ve always done things for the last 40 years. But remember that membership drives these changes by informing the leadership which direction we need to move.

-Wouldn’t it be amazing if all of those tiny Residual checks we get could be stored online, sent to your account via an Electronic Funds Transfer and a simple link would exist for the details of each check for your taxes? Yes, UW agrees, and yet this is something that’s never been done.

-We know that there are many questions, scenarios and issues that will always require the personal handling by a staff member, but if you were a production company and had some basic questions about our contract wouldn’t it be nice if you could just plug-in a little info and get the answer without waiting days to get a call?

-Our union has spent lots of time making the ability to vote for the SAG Awards a priority and it’s great but what about the interface that affects our employer’s? No matter how much we move into the digital world of our contract, actor contracts will always be complex, so we have to have a complex back-end to help our employers WANT to work with us – and that includes all of the actors engaging as producers with our modified contracts such as, ULB, MLB, LB and New Media.

Economy 101

-Cost consultants are the bane of Advertising Agencies and one of the main drivers behind the push to produce Non-Union commercials.

-Cost consultants make their money by taking actor’s money.

-Starting about 1980, labor has been seen as a corporate cost to be cut and corporate profits not shared with workers who help produce those profits.

-Corporate brands are shooting 70% non-union, not because they need to, but because they can. They will only stop when their bottom line is adversely affected.

-Since about ’80 worker wages have stagnated while profits, productivity and especially CEO salaries have vastly increased, driven by Wall St. board room greed. Maximizing Shareholder Benefits is the Wall Street disease that is killing Main Street, dismantling Labor Laws, and causing income inequality.

-Cost consultants promise to hold a brand’s hand as they guide them through the advertising production process, cutting costs at every opportunity.

-Cost consultants promote eliminating SAG-AFTRA compensation, which is a small percentage of the overall commercial budget and replacing it with non-union compensation of an even smaller percentage.

-Union workers, working off the card, give away hard-fought union wages, to corporate CEOs and shareholders, creating even greater income Inequality.

-Recent WGA negotiations proved that this disease can be cured and that profits need to be shared for our industry to survive and thrive. Media conglomerates pay writers and make a large chunk of their profits from advertising revenue.

-Media conglomerates reported billions in profits over the last few years and corporate advertising budgets are fueling these profits. Advertising money clearly exists it is just not trickling down to labor.

Union Truths

-We are SAG-AFTRA. The membership drives change by both, who we elect as our leaders, and then driving change informing elected leadership who then works with our paid staff.

-Membership must drive the changes we want because we are the boots on the ground with first-hand knowledge and experience of our changing industry.

-The SAG-AFTRA staff works for us and the volunteer elected leadership our voice but both deserve our commitment and loyalty – not just complaints and criticism.

-Our union is only as strong as its membership and we must work with our staff and leadership for the common good of all.

-Union members are the first line of defense which is why we must form member-to-member alliances across all unions to stop this corporate catastrophe.

-Union members are the solution to our changing industry. We must refuse to let ourselves disappear.

-The biology major cannot call himself a doctor just as an inexperienced actor cannot call himself a professional.

-Achieving union status means experience, commitment to the craft, and a working knowledge of the industry.

-Working union means that you agree to the contract written/negotiated by membership.

-Working union means that when the negotiations are over, the terms will be honored, union wages will be paid and problems will be avoided or solved.

-Working union means you have the skill to not only get the project done but to make it better.

-A union member working non-union deletes all of the above.

Also

-Only 13-19% of our nationwide membership voted in the 2018 SAG-AFTRA elections.

-Did you know that there are Celebrity actors who are Directing Non-union commercials? It seems our Union is scared of A-Listers, and we have A-Listers that are directing non-union commercials without any consequence whatsoever. Shouldn’t they face disciplinary action? What is SAG-AFTRA doing about it?

-The Commercial marketplace and industry is changing and SAG-AFTRA needs to adapt to commercials being produced faster and shown across many different platforms.

-The DGA essentially has no real alliance or working relationship with SAG-AFTRA while the DGA supports the Young n’ dumb Director doing non-union commercials. (Excuse to find new talent).

-Realize that to become a union Signatory it is for 3 yrs and there is “no out clause” which might be partially responsible for Production Co. trying to shoot on a 1-Day rate and make 5 to 7 spots.

-Do you know what % of actors actually qualify for Plan II or I of Insurance. Also are the Pension and Healthy numbers solely commercial work? How much would our Union be hit if that went away?

-Have you asked your Union to truthfully answer this: What is the % of decrease in union jobs from ’08 – ‘18?

-To value and power of true solidarity is omnipotent: SAG-AFTRA must make membership so valuable to a member’s quality of life, social life, educational needs, and opportunities for employment so as to foster solidarity, loyalty, and make resigning unthinkable. Every member needs to be aware of, invited to participate in, and support fulfilling the potential of, these union resources and initiatives.

Did You Know

The Conservatory

1. Expanded the Curriculum from 5 to 13 departments, giving every constituency of the union an educational, creative, and social home. Those departments include: theatrical, commercial, business, improv, voiceover, young performers, singers, dancers, stunts, mindset, social media, social events, background.

2. Expanded Conservatory to two campuses with new state-of-the-art camera studios: The American Film Institute (AFI) and SAG-AFTRA National Headquarters.

3. Extended the school year. The Conservatory is now open year ‘round, and only dark the month of May.

4. Free self-taping services by trained volunteers launched Spring 2018. Saturdays 12-5pm. Email ConservatorySelfTape@gmail.com to set up an appointment.

5. The LA Conservatory is now inviting High Profile Guest Teachers, unpublicized and unannounced, to come surprise teach classes. Our member education, via large-scale lectures, workshops, panels with leading industry pros is helping members be the best skilled and strategic artists in their discipline with expert personal instruction. These are programs free of union and governance limitations. Some of our Guests in 2018 include: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Matthew Modine, Emilio Estevez, and Martin Sheen and many more guests scheduled.

6. The LA Conservatory is now producing table reads for Conservatory members in collaboration with WGA writers, the Black List, and top Industry Story Executives. Additionally there is the DGA Director workout to assist in building relationships with professional directors.

7. Created a Producing Assistants program to incorporate more volunteers, provide our educators with support, and provide third party witnesses for all classes and events.

8. Established vetting system and now require professional qualifications for all LA Local Educators.

9. Begun offering on-camera Audition-Style Prepared-Read (ASPR) classes for the specific genres of network TV drama, single camera comedy, and multi-camera comedy.

10. Enrollment is now open all year online at sagaftra.org website for $45/year, which includes first-come, first-served access to all Conservatory classes and events and inclusion in the database utilized for AFI student film projects.

Seeing the future!

11. The LA Conservatory can help with your quality of your life by helping members with their personal, professional, and financial wellbeing. Whether it is health insurance & qualification assistance, in-network health centers or conversations about your retirement, pension, senior living and care resources

12. The LA Conservatory is a social outreach entity by offering screenings, accountability groups, and work sessions. More social networking helps members make crucial relationships for their professional and personal lives.

13. The LA Conservatory Member assists with activation and outreach to pre-members, both new and current.

14. The LA Conservatory Showcase :: representation and casting director showcases WGA Table Reads :: building relationships with professional writers

15. The LA Conservatory can assist with enforcement by helping members by enforcing union contracts and rules. All leadership and contracts departments negotiations and handling of claims Unionization and helping members by increasing the market share of unionized productions. CORI :: Commercials Organizing and Recapture Initiative

Tax Incentives

June 2018 update:
SAG-AFTRA is extremely pleased to let you know that Governor Brown has just signed an extension of the California production tax incentive program through 2025. This is terrific news for all of us!

We sincerely thank Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon and Senator Holly Mitchell for their leadership on this effort in Sacramento. We also thank the California Production Alliance—particularly our great partners from fellow entertainment unions—who we’ve worked tirelessly alongside for months to get where we are.

This extension is a strong testament to the success of the current program, which was set to expire in 2020, after being tripled in 2014 to $330M. We’re proud to say we’ve seen an increase in production in this state since 2014, and we are thrilled this trend is now secure to continue for five more years. This production tax credit program is of vital importance to keeping our members at work in California, and for this we are ever grateful.

The California Production Tax Credit program more than tripled in 2014 from $100 M to $330 M, when Governor Brown signed into law AB 1839.  The program has an initial sunset date of 2020.

SAG-AFTRA, as part of the CA Production Alliance (comprised of the entertainment unions and studios), is currently working in Sacramento to extend the program through 2025.  The program is administered by the California Film Commission.  Please see their website for updated, comprehensive details: http://film.ca.gov/tax-credit/the-basics-2-0/

Each fiscal year, the $330 million funding is categorized in: TV Projects, Relocating TV, Indie Features, and Non-Indie Features.

Relocating TV series and independent films get a 25% tax credit; Feature films and new TV series get a 20% tax credit; Projects shot outside of Los Angeles (more than 30 miles from Beverly/La Cienega), music, and visual effects all get a 5% bump in their respective credit.

The $330M dedicated funding structure is broken down this way: New TV series, Recurring TV series, pilots – $132M; Feature Films – $115.5M; Relocating TV – $66M; Independent feature films – $16.5M.

We have evidence of significant increases in CA Theatrical production since the program tripled in 2014, but significant decrease in Commercial production in New York.

Tax Cuts

H.R. 1 was passed by Congress in December of 2017 and signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017.  Effective January 1, 2018, the new tax legislation will eliminate many individual business write-offs for entertainment professionals, including, but not limited to:

  • Agent Commissions
  • Licenses
  • Normal Job Expenses
  • Tools & Supplies
  • Travel
  • Uniforms & Equipment
  • Union Dues

As part of doubling the standard deduction, most itemized deductions other than mortgage interest and charitable deductions are no longer deductible.  This could have an impact on media and entertainment professionals who typically itemize work-related expenses.

Disclaimer: UW as well as SAG-AFTRA encourages you to seek further information from a qualified, independent tax professional. https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/news/2017/dec/tax-reform-bill-changes-for-individuals-201718070.html

CD Perspective

Note: Union Working’s overall goal is to gather momentum within our union brothers and sisters to initiate and force intelligent change. One of the elements that we’ve identified is that there can be an iPad and some software between SAG-AFTRA and the Casting community in which we’re able to eliminate Exhibit E as a paper “Sign-in” process, which would assist with many current issues. However, when ideas like this are presented or discussed amongst actor there are always more items to consider than we realize. To that end, here is a list of things to consider, when considering the role of Casting within the future and employment.

-Never forget that the casting position is a human resource position hired by production, not actors nor its union, and the casting community is in no way legally tied to SAG-AFTRA or the realities of non-union work.

-UW very much would like to see SAG-AFTRA assist the casting community to be more efficient in the marketplace, assist production companies in their efforts to be signatories, and be able to centralize and automate the Exhibit E sign-in process.

-Understand that one of the major obstacles would be the cost associated with the hardware needed by casting as well as the creation of a back-end interface at SAG-AFTRA and OCR (Omni Character Recognition) technology for scanning that auto-populates information directly to SAG-AFTRA.

-UW knows that a great deal of the casting community is not under 30 per se and the concept of union card readers (ie; Casting Frontier) is far more complicated when you’re talking about all of the union regulations and contract necessities related to Exhibit E. It is far more than just “checking in” upon arrival.

-UW believes IT automation would or can:

  • Add accuracy to an actor’s audition time v. sign-in time as it pertains to overtime claims.
  • Simplify an actor’s status: SAG Eligible or Taft-Hartley to a full membership status. This way CDs would not have to worry about the time to process paperwork. (It can’t take months as it does now.)
  • Eliminate CDs from being caught in-between, in any way, as being perceived to allow actors who are NOT Fi-Core, saying they are, and trying to work “Off The Card”. (A card reader, or none, tells all.)
  • While Non-Union jobs do not require an Exhibit E those sessions can still be done using electronic sign-in and just generate a different type of report at no extra cost.
  • All of the ‘big data’ admin would go quickly from the CD office > JPC > Bus. Affairs @ the AD agency.

What are the CD challenges:

  • Clients often specify that they won’t “see” any Taft-Hartley or Eligible talent but the CD wants to bring in those actors based on their knowledge of being “right” and IT would expose the CDs artistic choice.
  • Fi-Core actors don’t carry a Union card anymore? True but the system would include all actors within SAG-AFTRA’s database so if you “add a Fi-Core actor to your session” their status would appear.
  • This would require a long Beta-Test phase due to the natural concern for CDs that SAG-AFTRA controls the system information regarding a hiring process for which CDs are responsible. Do know, however, that SAG-AFTRA would have legal exposure as to how they handle their member information and procedures, so as to alleviate the CCDA concern.
  • Yes, this type of IT change would not only have to be driven by SAG-AFTRA but also negotiated during contract efforts with the JPC and the casting community has nothing to do with that process.
  • And there is always the issue of an actor: “Oops, I forgot my card.” (Driver’s license / type name.)
  • Would a newer CD who is doing 80/20 non-union still get access to this new IT? Yes.
  • CCDA members do not wish to be chided or judged for the reality and transparency when they choose to bring in 40% non-union actors on a UNION job. Therefore programming would require that a CD has the option to “add actors” and a field that allows you when setting up your session to put in “Non-Union” and then when the report is generated there “could be” the ability to generate a Report for Production/Ad Agency without it while it is retained in IT.
  • Yes, there is a concern for Big Brother from a CDs standpoint, but this information is honestly already held in a central location and it would be a secured connection between SAG-AFTRA and the CD office. Separate fields would be specifically parsed and segmented.
  • Certainly the ‘Learning curve’ for new CD staff members is a logical concern. While UW does not believe any system created by SAG-AFTRA would be terribly difficult, this has validity. We’re all getting used to signing credit cards with our finger instead of a pen and many of the staff in the Commercial world bounce from office to office so once learned…then there isn’t any new training.
  • There also can be a legitimate concern that an iPad is a theft target just lying out on a table. But of course there are several solutions to make this a non-issue.
  • While there is some fear within the CD community that advances like this would somehow lead to the elimination of the CD position, UW does not see that through line at all. The CD position has been eroding for some time and in many ways we think this would actually help support their necessity. UW feels that the more being inter-connected with SAG-AFTRA on all levels, the more it protects CDs.
  • Additionally it alleviates some actor guilt or concern by making the “Sign-out” process automatic instead of being “targeted” for being “that Actor” who is costing the production money after an hour.
  • It would be a great pre-step with SAG-AFTRA who are “Eligible or Taft-Hartley” must-join.

Commercial Survey

UnionWorking is a group of professional, SAG-AFTRA commercial performers that have started a grassroots effort to increase union commercial production and ensure quality, working-class wages for on-camera and VO commercial performers.

Our goal is to collect statistical data and ideas from fellow working performers to present to SAG-AFTRA before the next Commercial Contract negotiations begin. This survey is 100% anonymous and your opinions are important to us, so please be honest.

Take the Survey

Kantar Service

-What is Kantar? Kantar is a monitoring service which is more accurate than iSpot.

-Kantar is not designed to be used by actors and it is not user friendly. Kantar customers are business reps from large corporations who want to keep tabs on their competitors ad use and confirm that they are getting the air time they are paying for.

-Kantar does not offer assistance to help understand or read your report, once purchased. They will, however, update the report each month if you ask, but avoid bombarding them, as there is a real likelihood of them cutting actors off.

-Kantar reports every single airing in every market in the US, though they can be spotty with local cable. Kantar reports can be daunting, running to tens of thousands of entries partially due to the fact that they report local airings in complicated ways. Local airing reports contain some syndicated airings as well as double reporting of national airings. A strong recommendation to actor users of Kantar is that you ignore all their local airings information and look only at cable and national broadcast (Class A) airings.

-Errors in broadcast and cable can be detected by Kantar and are commonly enough to trigger a claim that the SAG-AFTRA staff will take seriously as well as take quick action.

-Please note that if you’re going to maximize the usage of Kantar it is going to be imperative for you to have a strong working knowledge of Excel and/or a good friend who can assist with sorting the large amounts of information that the Kantar reports provide.

-Additionally, it will be imperative for any actor using the Kantar service to have a strong working knowledge of our Union contracts and how actors are supposed to be paid under our contract. In truth, without this knowledge, the Kantar report is basically useless. (A copy of the current Commercial contract is available at SAG-AFTRA)

-Kantar will charge you $75 per spot. If there are multiple versions of a spot (even if it is one spot under our contract), they will sometimes combine the spots and give you a better deal. You then receive an Excel file.

-After the above information if you’re still interested in Kantar, email jenna.marino@kantarmedia.com and ask to buy a report. You must provide as much information about the spot, the product name, the description of the action in the spot as well as where it might be found or seen. Include YouTube or iSpot links if you have them.