Entertainment Guilds Identify Hot Topics and Trends for 2013

Partners Hope Pordy and Adrienne Saldaňa served as Co-Moderators for a presentation by representatives of various Entertainment Guilds before the Entertainment Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association (February 11, 2013). The Panelists included: Ann Burdick, Senior Counsel, Writers Guild of America-East (“WGAE”); Thomas R. Carpenter, Eastern Regional Director/Assistant Executive Director/General Counsel, Actors Equity Association (“Equity”); Samantha Dulaney, In-House Counsel, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (“IATSE”); Tino-Gagliardi, President, Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 (“AFM Local 802”); and Sarah Leah Tarlow, Assistant General Counsel, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (“SAG-AFTRA”).  Spivak Lipton has served as counsel to these unions in various capacities.

The participating Guilds serve as the collective bargaining representatives for actors, writers, singers, recording artists, dancers, voiceover artists, puppeteers, stage employees, broadcast journalists, orchestral and recording musicians, arrangers and copyists in film, live theatre, television, and music venues.  The Panel discussed how their respective Guilds have continued to press industry employers for protections and fair compensation in connection with new media. The Panel also explained how they have expanded their organizing efforts to embrace a larger community of individuals employed in the entertainment industry, and adjust to technological developments impacting existing bargaining unit work.

The Panelists highlighted a number of recent organizing successes including the first ever collective bargaining agreements in the reality (non-fiction) television industry between the WGAE and reality/documentary television production companies (Lion Television & Optomen Productions).  The WGAE also won elections to serve as the collective bargaining representative for employees at Atlas Media and ITV Studios.

The recently merged SAG-AFTRA (3/30/12) expanded its scope of representation and secured a first-ever industry-wide agreement covering music video performers employed by any production company producing music videos.  The covered performers include dancers, actors, narrators, singers, models and stunt performers. Choreographers and assistant choreographers will also be eligible for health and retirement contributions under this agreement. SAG-AFTRA also won an election in January 2013 to represent employees (reporters, producers, show hosts and news anchors) at the public radio station KPCC in Los Angeles.

IATSE has negotiated new media language in their national agreements which will secure additional compensation for IATSE members involved in tv, film and new media production, and is actively organizing among individuals employed on reality (non-fiction) television programming.

Equity is also embracing the increased opportunities for its members in the world of new media, as live theater goes virtual, with broadway shows being simulcast in theaters nationwide and theatrical performances go online.

Musicians are similarly faced with challenges to their job security due to the impact of computers, synthesizers, recordings and internet-based distribution, and AFM Local 802 continues its fight to preserve and protect live orchestral music in various music venues in the five boroughs of New York, and more recently, Sullivan County in upstate New York and the area around Stamford Connecticut.  

Posted on March 7, 2013 .