Spring 2014

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F or more than a decade, the union and its members have seen a flurry of high-profile legal disputes between members and their personal managers — courtroom battles for millions of dollars that erupt into he said/she said arguments. Understanding SAG-AFTRA's Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct engage personal managers. For example, if those personal managers attempt to procure employment, they must do so under the control and direction of a licensed and, in our case franchised, agent. And, under law, the agent is required to "direct" that relationship because the agent is bonded, subject to state law and, most significantly, covered by the union's franchise agreements. Managers currently operate without any restrictions and that's the way some of them want it to remain. e increasing drumbeat from members was clear, however: "Do something about personal managers." rough careful consultation and coordination with independent personal managers and various personal manager organizations, as well as hundreds of our own members, the union painstakingly worked through each element of this innovative program. Recognizing that the community is as diverse as our membership, we decided first and foremost to make this a voluntary program. SAG-AFTRA members or personal managers are not obligated to sign on to the union agreement if they do not want to. It's not a violation of Read the Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct, learn details about the difference between a manager and an agent, and see a handy FAQ factsheet at 30 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2014 | membership rules. However, if a union member wants to operate under a set of rules that brings personal managers under the SAG-AFTRA tent for the first time in our history, and if the manager is interested in learning more about being affiliated with the union, they should both have that option. e document was created with significant contributions from personal managers and organizations including the Talent Managers Association. Some special interest groups within the personal management community have reacted to this voluntary code with heated rhetoric. Perhaps it's because some personal managers believe that they should not be regulated at all, either by the state legislature or SAG-AFTRA. ese groups have been embroiled in a lawsuit against the State of California seeking to declare the very basic talent agency protections offered by the state — known as the Talent Agencies Act, or TAA — to be "unconstitutional." SAG-AFTRA, together with the Writers Guild of America, West and the Directors Guild of America, filed a "friend of the court" brief to help the court understand the history of the TAA and its importance to the unions' members. As an organization entrusted with protecting our members, SAG-AFTRA encourages members to review the information on the union's website, then ask these two basic questions: 1) Is my manager signed to this code? 2) If not, why not? Answers to those two basic questions will help members make an informed decision about who they want representing their interests. SAG-AFTRA believes choice is a wonderful thing, but so are union protections in professional relationships. e union wants its members to have this choice and make up their own minds based on the facts. e members of the SAG-AFTRA National Agents Relations Committee are charged with facilitating the relationships between personal representatives and the union's members. Although some issues can be dealt with swily, others require significant coordination, outreach and planning. at's why SAG-AFTRA has established its first-ever formalized relationship with personal managers, known as the Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct. More than 15 percent of the daily phone calls coming into SAG-AFTRA's Agency Department — now rebranded as the Professional Representatives Department — were about personal management questions, conflicts and abuses, but the union was unable to assist, since it does not have a formal relationship with personal managers. Something needed to be done. In California and New York, states that house our two largest locals, there is little meaningful protection under the law for performers who choose to engage personal managers. Managers are not bound to any legal standard and virtually anyone can hang out a shingle and declare themselves to be a personal manager, regardless of their professional background. Personal managers should not be confused with business managers, who offer financial advice and manage financial affairs. In California, there is some minimal legislative protection for performers who Click here for the brief

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