Saturday, April 28, 2012

Local Hire Policy and SAG

Concerning the Contract
From the Chicago SAG Branch Newsletter

Occasionally a contract issue will surface, become the hot topic of the day, and quickly become mired with confusion and mixed messages. Let me try to clear up what I may in regard to the issue of local hire.

“Local hire” is one of those terms that is used, and often abused, in our neck of the woods. You, as a performer, want to work, and it can be very tempting to want to negotiate your services in order to secure a job. Your agent, likewise, wants to seal a deal in a competitive environment where many other agents are submitting talent for the same roles. Producers (i.e., your employers) are looking for the best performers for the job, but have budget considerations and are typically eyeing the bottom line with every move they make. The crux that is sometimes created by what I’ve described comes when a producer offers less than SAG minimum terms as they pertain to travel provisions, and whether directly expressed or implied, you or your representative accepts that offer.

Local hire is when you work in the market of your current residence. You are able to drive to the work location in the morning, return home in the evening, and are not in need of accommodations to rest at the end of the day. Conversely, if you are not “local,” you are considered on “overnight location.” By nature of your distance from the location, you are treated with travel provision coverage under the terms of SAG’s negotiated agreements, including but not limited to, airfare or mileage reimbursement, accommodations and per diem to cover any meals not provided on set. Your workday begins when you depart from the hotel and return to the hotel. This workday structure is what we refer to as “portal to portal.”

If you are working on an overnight location, there are only two exceptions that would allow for these terms to be reduced or waived. First, if a producer working on location in our region brings in overnight performers within a 500-mile radius, he or she may opt to take advantage of our 500-mile travel waiver. This waiver allows for waived travel pay (your compensation for travel time) for the incoming and outgoing travel days for daily performers working on television or theatrical projects. For example, if a production company from Los Angeles films in Dallas and hires a performer from Houston (or anywhere within 500 miles), the salary for the day of travel when no other work is performed that day may be waived. Aside from this, all other provisions of the contract (transportation, accommodations, portal to portal workday, per diem, etc.) are applicable, and you must be treated as an overnight location performer.

The second circumstance involves a producer working at the producer’s base of operations. Our TV/Theatrical Contract provides that when a producer is working at his or her home studio or base of operations and brings you to that home base, the producer is obligated to pay a $75 travel allowance up until the commencement of employment and must pay for your transportation (airfare or mileage reimbursement).  All other terms such as accommodations and per diem must be negotiated. For example, a producer’s base of operations is in Austin and he or she regularly produces in Austin. When a producer hires a performer from Dallas to work in Austin, the performer would receive $75 plus mileage (currently reimbursed at 30 cents). Any other provisions related to travel would have to be negotiated by the performer or the performer’s representative.

Waiving any of the travel provisions weakens the contract terms members fight so hard to gain in negotiations. Falsely claiming local hire and traveling at the end of a long workday is unsafe and could put you at risk. It is your responsibility to report misuse of the terms of the contracts in order to keep strong contracts for your future. Your SAG staff is available to answer any questions pertaining to the travel provisions or, if issues arise, do not hesitate to call Linda Dowell or Trish Avery at (214) 379-1171 or (800) 724-0767, option 7.

Frist published 12/6/2011

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