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Sparks Fly As Actors Strike Hits 3rd Month

LOS ANGELES--As the SAG/AFTRA strike over residual payments drags into its third month, accusations on both sides continue to fly. Some sources, however, are claiming the unions' tactic of using interim agreements has failed, and that the longer the strike lasts, the more pressure unions will feel to settle the dispute.

Late last week, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists contended that smaller production companies and shops that have signed interim deals with the unions were fronts for the nation's top advertisers and shops. The Joint Policy Committee on Talent Union Relations, created by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, countered that the strike failed to halt commercial production.

The unions claimed that 33 Fortune 500 companies, including Pepsi, McDonald's and GM, have been working with the estimated 1,700 signatories to continue using union talent without having to settle.

"This is an absolute shell game," said SAG representative Greg Krizman. ANA representative Dan Jaffe responded, "The vast majority of major advertisers are still not making union ads. We have no basis to judge one way or another their claim." He added it was the unions, and not the trade associations, that intended to pursue full negotiations, rather than just mediate, at the scheduled July 20 meeting in New York with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Doug Wood, partner in the New York law firm of Hall, Dicker, Kent, Friedman & Wood, said, "The industry can produce using nonunion people, or union people willing to cross the line, or through small entities [that signed deals]. All of that is happening in [so] many ways the interim agreement is backfiring on the unions. The longer the strike goes on, the industry has the edge."

The top issue stems from advertisers' desire to extend the flat-fee pay structure used for cable spots; actors want the residual pay-for-play structure, for over-the-air commercial airings, to extend to cable.


David Lipin and Jack Feuer, ADWEEK. July 10, 2000

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