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NCOPM: Managers Reject SAG-AFTRA Ethics Code

NCOPM: Managers Reject SAG-AFTRA Ethics Code

A trade group for personal managers continued its offensive against SAG-AFTRA's new code of ethics and conduct Thursday.

The National Conference of Personal Managers Inc. (NCOPM), whose leadership said that it only learned of the code earlier this week after it was unveiled by the union, said an internal survey found opposition to the voluntary agreement overwhelming.

"The survey showed 98 percent of personal managers will not apply to sign on to the SAG-AFTRA Code," Clinton Ford Billups Jr., NCOPM national president, said in a statement. "The remaining managers responded 'maybe' and only one responded that he would apply. Based on that and the other results of the survey, it appears that the SAG-AFTRA Code is dead on arrival with the personal management community."

The survey was emailed to the Nevada-based trade group's some 1,200 members on Tuesday. They had until Thursday afternoon to respond.

"For NCOPM, the SAG-AFTRA code is moot. Our members must abide by the NCOPM Code of Ethics, which has been an industry standard for more than 50 years," said Billups, who noted it may be a "conflict of interest for a personal manager to sign the union's Code of Ethics."

He added: "Engaging in a contractual relationship with any entity that also has a contractual relationship with a manager's client questions the objectivity of the manager."

The two points of the code, which managers must apply to sign, which drew the most ire from NCOPM's member were the provision that "SAG-AFTRA shall be an ex officio party to all arbitration proceedings hereunder in which any member of SAG-AFTRA is involved, and the Union may do anything which a party named in such proceedings might do."

And the point regarding "disputes between the Union and any [personal manager] that has agreed to sign on to the Code, the Union's General Counsel (or his designee) shall be charged with issuing a final ruling based on any written information presented to him/her by the affected parties." In both cases, 92 percent of responding managers said they disagreed with those provisions.

The survey was published as SAG-AFTRA has tried to clarify the meaning of the agreement. On Wednesday, it sent an email to its membership, and union officials subsequently followed up with reporters. "We believed that the consensus document was acceptable to the [Talent Managers Association] and others with whom we were communicating," the union said in its email. "Unfortunately, it appears that there is intensive and, in some cases, wildly uninformed lobbying going on from special interests within the personal management community."

In one example the union circulated to reporters, a member was told by a manager in an email "managers have been asked by SAG/AFTRA not to take on members of the guild if we intend to help them get work." The identities of the member and the manager were redacted by SAG-AFTRA.

"No personal manager is required to sign [the agreement]," Zino Macaluso, SAG-AFTRA's national director and senior counsel of the professional representatives, told Backstage. "That message is not effectively being communicated or is being miscommunicated by some elements of [the managers] community."

Moreover, he said the agreement mirrors state law in California and New York. "There's really no way around that. You can't make a law less applicable," he said.

NCOPM, however, is challenging California's Talent Agencies Act in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In response to the poll, Macaluso said it had a "flawed" methodology and was "not representative of the opinions and attitudes of the entire management community or the members of SAG-AFTRA."

"NCOPM was invited to take part in the collaborative process of drafting this voluntary agreement. They declined. The NCOPM had months to review the Code, provide feedback and help make it more responsive to their needs. They refused. They did not engage in good faith to create a mutually agreeable document. We assumed their attention was purely focused on their impending lawsuit against the State of California and not how to improve their relationship with SAG-AFTRA members," Macaluso said in a statement. 

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