The largest actors' union in the U.S. has reached a tentative agreement with four television networks to try to eliminate the so-called casting couch, and prevent sexual harassment and assault. SAG-AFTRA struck a new deal with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, which limits private meetings in off-site locations, including hotel rooms and private residences.
SAG-AFTRA is the union that represents the journalists at NPR, among 160,000 others in the media and entertainment industries, including actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, and news editors.
Reuters reports that Gabrielle Carteris, the president of SAG-AFTRA, said the agreement aims to eliminate opportunities for "predators to exploit performers behind closed doors under the guise of a professional meeting." She said the new guideline is a "partial realization of our work toward industry culture change."
Ari Wilkenfeld, a civil rights lawyer who represents victims of sexual harassment and assault, said of the agreement by SAG-AFTRA and the television networks, "I would like to characterize this as the very first step, in a very long marathon that we have to walk to clean things up."
The new, three-year contract also includes pay increases, and improvement to harassment prevention language. It follows SAG-AFTRA's decision in February to release a Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment, and an initiative called Four Pillars of Change. The new rules include updated guidelines, and expand education and intervention efforts. The code also provides a definition of sexual harassment and what constitutes a hostile work environment, and detailed employers' legal obligations.