Effective April 1, 2009, the JPC negotiated a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with SAG and AFTRA for actors who perform in television and radio commercials.

It has come to our attention that some voice-over agents in Los Angeles continue to demand so-called "LA Scale" for radio commercials, a rate significantly above the scale rates the JPC and AFTRA negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement covering radio commercials. We also understand that “LA Scale” usually goes up immediately after a new contract is agreed upon. It is entirely unclear to us who decides to implement such an increase. It is also unclear whether any agents have collectively agreed to demand LA Scale or to increase it.

The JPC and AFTRA did not agree to LA Scale, nor to any other local premium over the minimum scale fees contained in the AFTRA Radio Commercials Contract. In truth, the advertising industry and AFTRA have never collectively agreed to LA Scale.

While individual agents can demand whatever they wish in negotiations, producers are only obligated to pay no less than the minimums in the collective bargaining agreement. While a producer can certainly agree to pay more, it is not mandated by any collective bargaining agreement. Any perception that LA Scale is a negotiated minimum compensation for productions in Los Angeles is totally false.

Of course, agents and producers are free to negotiate for rates higher than the minimums. But such negotiations must be on an individual basis. As a group, agents cannot agree among themselves to only accept a higher fee, any more than producers can conspire to pay less than the minimums required in the collective bargaining agreement.

Should you encounter any agent claiming that LA Scale is an agreed-upon rate and is required as a matter of right or obligation, please report such statement to me. If you receive anything in writing from agents demanding LA Scale, please forward it to me, subject, of course, to redacting any information you feel is confidential. And regardless of how you deal with the issue, if an agent insists on LA Scale, be sure the agent explains exactly what the agent means by LA Scale and precisely what rate they are demanding for both session and residuals.

If you wish to make such a report or if you have any questions, please contact me at 212 549 0377 or dwood@reedsmith.com.