Thursday, March 6, 2014

SAG-AFTRA's "Managers Code of Ethics" Presents a Flawed & Misleading Document for Union Members & Their Managers

I would like to share the content of an e-mail that I sent to my clients this morning:

You will shortly be receiving — if you haven’t already — a document from SAG-AFTRA called “Managers Code of Conduct.” You can access a copy on the SAG-AFTRA website. Many of you know that I attended a meeting with SAG-AFTRA (legal) leadership about this a couple of months ago.

SAG-AFTRA has created a document that they are presenting to both their union members and talent managers that they believe will bring both parties under a sanctioned “jurisdiction” by the union. Please read this document carefully (a copy is attached to this e-mail). We (managers) have been told that this document has been run by union members who are eager (my word) to have their managers sign it. That’s hard to believe.

Among other things — and this is perhaps the most critical item in the entire mix — is that by signing this “Code,” managers are agreeing not to submit our (union) clients for work, not to procure work for them and not to negotiate any deals on their behalf. The gray area is this “safe harbor” provision that has existed long before this document was crated by which which managers, whose union clients have a theatrical agent, is able to do that work as a part of the triangular team that is client-agent-manager. This provision gives managers a sort of authorization to act on the agent’s behalf in support of the client. But what about any clients who do not have a theatrical agent? Are they to be completely shut out of this process? SAG-AFRA clearly says “yes.” Essentially, screw the actor who doesn’t have an agent.

We’re in a landscape where they are and remain many more actors seeking representation from an agent than there are agents to represent them. Many of the actors find themselves happily in business relationships with managers. Many of those actors decide not to seek an agent  because of the effectiveness of their manager’s efforts on their behalf.

Lastly, it is my understanding that actors who seek or, like you, have a manager, expect your manager to do the work the union wants to bar us from doing. You expect your manager to make submissions. You expect your manager to make pitch calls. You expect your manager to get you work. And you expect your manager to get you the best deal possible. And we expect to be doing that work for you as a part of our strategic plan to market and build your brand.

At least that’s my understanding.

This is a flawed document. I won’t be signing it. It isn’t in the best interests of union (or non-union) actors; it certainly is not in the best interests of managers. If you have an opinion on this, let your voice be heard.