Last week, Stand-In Central strongly advocated for SAG-AFTRA members to vote No on the proposed Network Television Code (aka “Netcode”).
Why Vote NO on Netcode
Stand-In Central strongly advocated that SAG-AFTRA members vote No in order to:
- send a message to SAG-AFTRA that a considerable population of SAG-AFTRA members is unhappy with the inferior gains the union achieved in the recent negotiations with FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, et al.
- help prevent the ratification of the proposed agreement, which would control wages and working conditions on future television promos, as well as variety shows, game shows, quiz shows, soap operas, and other daytime programming
What Can Happen If You Vote NO on Netcode
In the event of a majority of No votes, SAG-AFTRA will be sent back to the bargaining table with the major networks.
Namely, the union will go back into negotiations with the networks, in order to:
- achieve better gains for SAG-AFTRA members in general, and especially for SAG-AFTRA’s most economically disadvantaged members — background actors on promos, who will only make minimum wage under this proposed agreement
- achieve better guaranteed minimum hours for stand-ins, who only receive hourly pay, and as a result are potentially among the lowest paid professionals in the entire union under this contract
- achieve better contract clarity on who specifically is responsible for telling stand-ins their minimums — something which is entirely unclear in this newly negotiated term
When to Vote NO on Netcode
SAG-AFTRA members currently have ballots, which are due on August 16, 2018.
What Will Likely Happen to the Proposed Netcode
In all likelihood, the proposed Netcode referendum will pass — largely because SAG-AFTRA is telling its members to vote yes in its referendum package on the proposed agreement.
The union has also released a YouTube video with its president advocating for members to vote yes on the proposed Netcode in the push to ensure this large union contract is ratified without member revolt.
However, if the proposed Netcode passes, SAG-AFTRA members who voted yes will have actively worked against the economic interests of many other SAG-AFTRA members and will negatively affect those members economically for many years into the future.
How Voting Yes Works against the Interests of the Most Economically Disadvantaged SAG-AFTRA Members
SAG-AFTRA members who vote yes will be telling other members that minimum wage for a union professional is acceptable. SAG-AFTRA members who vote yes will also be telling other members that hourly pay with a two-hour minimum for a union professional is acceptable — rather than daily pay.
SAG-AFTRA did not honor years of Wages & Working Conditions Committee requests to improve rates for stand-ins, who got only dollar increases in their rates in this proposed agreement and no addition to their two-hour minimum on television promos. In the first year of this proposed agreement, they can walk away from a job having grossed only $54.
The outsized increases background actors received under the proposed Netcode were mandated by minimum wage laws, not by union strength at the bargaining table. They were also motivated by producers, not by the union fighting for background actors.
In fact, during the recently expired contract, a well-placed union source explained that union officials were not arguing to pay background actors minimum wage on television promos when the Netcode’s $97/8 rate became below minimum wage. Instead, the union was telling SAG-AFTRA members who receive less than minimum wage to file an unpaid wages claim with the state Department of Labor. The Netcode had a separability clause that permitted the payment of minimum wage in line with the law, but SAG-AFTRA was not going to enforce the contract language — potentially leaving background actors to make less than minimum wage and then have to file their own claims for the unpaid wages.
In effect, if the proposed Netcode passes with a majority of SAG-AFTRA members voting against the interests of other members, background actors can walk away from a day’s work with only minimum wage pay, and some stand-ins can walk away with a paycheck of just $54 gross. No large SAG-AFTRA contract pays background actors and stand-ins so poorly and so disrespectfully as this proposed Netcode does.
In voting No on the proposed Netcode, SAG-AFTRA members who believe in the strength of the union, the professionalism of its members, and the importance of a living wage, will show their support for some of the most disadvantaged SAG-AFTRA members who work as professionals on these major network television jobs.
These disadvantaged fellow SAG-AFTRA members require a No vote — in the effort to secure better wages and working conditions than the union has negotiated for them.
How will you vote on the proposed Network Television Code? Share your opinions below!