We Demand You Take a Stronger Stance to Stop Commercial Work from Going Non-Union
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Dear SAG/AFTRA Leadership,
Commercial actors’ livelihoods are in jeopardy! Many loyal SAG/AFTRA members, of all levels of income, rely on commercial work as their bread and butter. As you are aware, every year more and more companies are turning towards hiring non-union actors for their advertising campaigns. In a climate of ballooning content platforms, this is the time to be vigilant in making sure that our union does not lose its hold on the advertising world by not making strong, creative choices to protect our jobs. We are therefore requesting that SAG/AFTRA leadership create a campaign that raises awareness on all fronts, that halts the current trend of hiring non-union actors, and that better regulates Fi-Core status. We need strong leadership for commercial actors. It is a crisis for actors who want to remain loyal to the union and support their families. This is an ignored problem and needs to be a priority.
HERE ARE A FEW SUGGESTED, SPECIFIC ACTIONS FOR CREATING THIS SHIFT
1. At the current time, certain companies will only go union when they hire a celebrity to star in their commercial but go back to non-union for commercials not featuring celebrities. SAG/AFTRA leadership should be proactive in informing celebrities on a case-by-case basis, that such companies are not committed to hiring union; so that such celebrities can make an informed choice before agreeing to endorse a product.
RATIONALE: Raising this awareness will present the opportunity for celebrities to show solidarity to their fellow actors and will encourage companies to stay union for all advertising or risk losing their celebrity endorsements.
2. On the theatrical side of things, nothing gets done without Teamsters, and if there is a Union strike, Teamsters back up the strikers. Therefore, SAG/AFTRA should increase solidarity with the local Teamsters union and ask them to charge 3 times what they usually charge when they do a non-union job.
RATIONALE: The companies must hire Teamsters to work on commercials so perhaps this would make the advertisers think twice about going non-union if they are having to budget for a higher fee by going non-union. Additionally, the Teamsters will make more if the production decides to go non-union.
3. SAG/AFTRA OUTREACH
A. SAG/AFTRA should broaden the dialogue with the DGA and WGA regarding ways to create more solidarity between unions when it comes to non-union commercials. Yes, we understand from SAG/AFTRA PSA’S that there are meetings being held with other unions, but what exactly is being done to create actual strides in this area by SAG/AFTRA leadership is not transparent. The success and failure of these talks should be communicated with members. Many DGA directors are directing Non-Union commercials. If the top directors showed solidarity and did not direct non-union commercials, many advertisers would think twice about going non-union.
B. SAG/AFTRA should be creating a consistent dialogue with casting directors about the hardships and concerns of actors who are turning to day jobs to support themselves because they can no longer count on booking union jobs, thus, are not as available for castings, which makes casting director’s jobs that much harder.
4. If a video game or theatrical production is non-union, SAG/AFTRA vocalizes this to members. But this is not being done for companies/corporations who decide to hire non-union actors for their commercials. Therefore, SAG/AFTRA should keep all members updated as to which companies go non-union for their commercials so that the choice can be made to boycott those companies by members and by family and friends of SAG/AFTRA members.
RATIONALE: By shedding light on companies who decide to go non-union, Sag-Aftra members can use their financial power to support only the companies who support the union.
5. During a past strike, SAG/AFTRA employees physically campaigned by giving out memberships in order to strengthen the numbers of SAG/AFTRA. A similar program could be explored where the union waives the $3,000 initiation fee to actors who are willing to NEVER do non-union jobs. A second option would be for SAG/AFTRA employees to campaign outside of casting studios where non-union castings are taking place, and give out vouchers to actors who agree to not attend a non-union casting or callback.
RATIONALE: The dream for most actors is to be a SAG/AFTRA member. By making the process of becoming union easier, sought after non-union actors would be deterred from taking non-union commercial jobs as most actors who join SAG-AFTRA are doing it to further their careers and get benefits. This would weaken the pool of solid non-union talent.
6. In addition to above, SAG/AFTRA needs to somehow address the hypocrisy of liberal companies/actors who say publicly they are pro-union and pro-living wages and they do another thing entirely (do non-union commercials) because it’s best for their bottom line. I.E. Facebook, Starbucks, HP (Bill Gates!), Jessica Alba (who has benefited from being a SAG actor her entire career and now only uses non-union actors for her billion-dollar Honest Company), Kate Hudson (her whole family has benefited from the Union financially and career-wise, but the only time her company Fableticis uses union-actors is when she appears in them - otherwise they are low paying non-union jobs). As much as we respect the entrepreneurship of the above individuals and companies, the choice in hiring non-union actors lacks solidarity and is hypocritical.
7. SAG-AFTRA should lobby at a Federal level to stop California from becoming a 'Right To Work' state. Qualifications for becoming Fi-Core should be restructured to strictly being granted to those who fall within a chosen low-income bracket. This could be similar to the way financial aid is run where an actor must submit his yearly income to see if he qualifies for the specific low-income bracket. Consequently, if an actor is making more than X amount as an actor, he/she will not qualify for Fi-Core.
RATIONALE: As it currently stands, any actor who decides to go Fi-Core can do so with the only valuable right they lose being the right to vote. Many quality actors are choosing to turn Fi-Core in order to qualify to act in non-union commercials, providing companies who are going non-union with a bigger pool of Non-Union actors to choose from. If this trend continues, there will be no point in being a full-fledged SAG/AFTRA member.
8. SAG/AFTRA should alert the Studios and producers who do product placements for their TV shows and movies, making them aware of which products do non-union commercials and try to create solidarity with them by convincing them to only use products/advertisers who support the union. Of course, this should also be public knowledge to the companies so that they know their products aren’t being used because they do non-union commercials.
In closing we’d like to state a word of warning: If things continue as they are, there will be no incentive for companies to hire union actors and actors will continue to become Fi-Core. This then will undoubtedly weaken our bargaining power as a union in theatrical jobs and voice over respectively.
THE TIME FOR SAG/AFTRA TO RAISE AWARENESS AND CREATE AN ACTION PLAN IS NOW. IF AN ACTION PLAN IS IN PLACE, THIS NEEDS TO BE CONSISTENTLY PRESENTED TO EVERY UNION MEMBER.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE LIST OF COMPANIES WHO USED TO DO UNION JOBS AND HAVE GONE NON-UNION:
Samsung (union when using a celebrity)
JCPenny (union when using a celebrity)
Budweiser (union when using a celebrity)
Old Navy (union when using a celebrity)
BELOW ARE 4 RECENT EXAMPLES THAT DEMONSTRATE THE DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN NON-UNION AND UNION COMMERCIALS TAKEN FROM REAL BREAKDOWNS.
1. HASBRO/DISNEY (6/21/17)
Use in perpetuity
-- Salary ends up being $2,250 gross less $450 (20% commission) less approx $563 taxes (at 25% rate)
Amount to actor for work day, fitting day, and use forever is approximately $1,237 net forever
If this was a SAG job the rates for ONE YEAR would be approx:
$2,854.68 new media
$15,624 for 4 cable cycles
$1,074.70 for industrial
$10,000 approx (low guess) for Class A
$7,000 approx. (low guess) for Wildspot
$2,015.07 for 3 holding fees
-- So, this job for ONE YEAR as a SAG job would pay approximately $42,169.82 gross less $4,216.98 commission (10%) and approximately $10,542.46 tax (at 25% rate), so $27,410.38 net for one year
Hasbro is a multinational toy company and the third largest toy maker in the world with revenues of $4.45 billion.
Disney’s market capitalization is roughly $150 billion
2. VIRGIN MOBILE (6/14/17)
$500 session per day (2 days)
Free fitting day
$850 buyout for 1 year digital US
Holding Telecom exclusivity
-- Salary ends up being $1,850 gross less $370 (20% commission) less approx. $463 taxes (at 25% rate)
So, amount to actor for work days, fitting day, and one-year w/exclusivity is approximately $1,017 net for one year
Richard Branson’s net worth is approximately $4.9 billion
As of Nov, 2014, Virgin Group was worth $7 billion
If this was a SAG job it would pay:
$1,343.38 for 2 days
$75 for the fitting
$2,854.68 new media
$2,015.07 for 3 holding fees for the exclusivity for the year
-- So, this job as a SAG job would pay approximately $9,142.81 gross less $914.28 commission (10%) less $2,285.70 tax (at 25% rate), so $5,942.83 net for one year
3. COMCAST CABLE INTERNET ESSENTIALS (6/14/17)
Use: Perpetuity on digital and social channels, both owned channels and paid channels
-- Salary ends up being $350 less $70 (20% commission) less approx. $88 taxes (at 25% rate)
So, amount to actor for work day and use forever on cable and social media is approximately $192 net forever
Comcast has a revenue of $80.4 billion in 2016
-- If this was a SAG internet is only allowed for one year and then the agent could renegotiate the rate. The rates below reflect one year at SAG scale and a renegotiation of $10,000 for the 2nd year.
$671.69 for 8 hours
$503.76 for OT (4 more hours)
$2,854.68 internet one year
$2,854.68 new media one year
$10,000 renegotiation for internet and new media for a second year
-- So, this job would pay $16,884.81 gross less $1,688.48 commission (10%) less $4,221.20 tax (at 25% rate). So, $10,995.13 for 2 years with renegotiation possible for subsequent years
4. OLD NAVY (6/14/17)
Adults: $2,500 buyout, $1,000 shoot day; $500 rehearsal day
Free fitting day
Kids: $1,750 buyout, $750 shoot day; $350 rehearsal day
Free fitting day
US English & Hispanic for 8 weeks on National Network & Cable
1-year internet/new media/PR
1 year industrial
Mexico: 8 weeks cable, social media, and digital
China: 8 weeks digital, in-store, mall
Franchise: Digital, in-store, mall
TBD use: Middle East (Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia); and Asia (Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam)
-- Adult salary ends up being $4,000 less $800 (20% commission) and approximately $1,000 taxes (at 25% rate)
Amount to actor for work day, fitting day, rehearsal day, and all use is approximately $2,200
Kids salary ends up being $2,850 less $570 (20% commission) and approximately $143 taxes (at 25% rate)
Amount to child actor for work day, fitting day, rehearsal day, and all use is approximately $2,137
-- If this was a SAG job the adult and child would be paid the same:
$671.69 work day
$671.69 rehearsal day
$75 fitting (approx)
$15,000 for 8 weeks broadcast/cable US & Hispanic
$2,854.68 1 year internet
$2,854.68 1 year new media
Mexico and China would be $1,343.38 for one year (minimum purchase per SAG)
-- So, if this job was union it would pay approximately $24,471.12 gross less $2,447.11 commission (10%) less $6,117.78 tax (at 25% rate), so $15,906.23 net
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