The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) National Board of Directors met in a one-day videoconference plenary and approved the tentative agreement reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, on July 4 at 6 a.m. PT. With the board’s approval, the deal now goes to the union’s membership for ratification.
Eligible SAG-AFTRA members will vote on the proposed successor agreements covering motion pictures, scripted primetime dramatic television and new media production. The union secured significant improvements in the residuals rate paid to performers for exhibition of their performances on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. Under the new terms, actors will receive residuals for exhibition on subscription video on-demand platforms earlier, now after 90 days instead of after one year. The new formula delivers a 300% increase in residuals to performers within their first two years when their work is exhibited worldwide on Netflix.
Background actors achieved many gains as well, including superior overtime rules for background actors working in the west coast zones, a higher minimum for photo doubles, a pay increase for work on shows for the CW as a result of applying the background schedules from the television contract and a new standard voucher form that will minimize the need for background actors to supply social security numbers.
SAG-AFTRA also achieved a historic breakthrough in the rules governing travel for television performers, including an up to five-fold increase in the fees due to series performers who work at locations away from home. The travel rules for television were also rationalized and clarified, closing many loopholes and ambiguities that have allowed for abuse.
The board overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement 77.4 percent to 22.5 percent and recommended a vote of “yes” to ratify the contracts.
In keeping with the National Board’s prior policy resolution, the national referendum for the TV/Theatrical agreements will be conducted via an online vote to ratify the contracts. Traditional paper ballots will also be available on request to any eligible voter who asks for such a ballot. Members who are eligible to vote (under the National Multi-Employer Collective Bargaining Agreement Policy) will receive a postcard with ballot instructions explaining how to vote electronically or how to request a paper ballot. The postcard will be mailed to members on or about July 17. Ratification votes received by the voting deadline of approximately August 7 (electronically or by mail) will be tabulated on the same day. Informational meetings will be scheduled for members across the country to discuss the tentative agreement. Information about the agreement will also be posted online prior to the balloting period.
The current contracts remain in effect during the member ratification process. The term of the new agreement is for three years effective July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2020 and is retroactive upon ratification.
SAG-AFTRA President and Negotiating Committee Chair Gabrielle Carteris said, “I am thankful to the board for its approval and recommendation of this agreement, and am delighted at what the negotiating team was able to achieve. We have negotiated a forward-looking package with meaningful gains across our entire membership. This agreement would not have been possible without the members’ collective feedback and our comprehensive Wages and Working Conditions meetings. Together, we have achieved a comprehensive, modern agreement that lays the foundation for success for years to come. We established substantial compensation gains, especially in the expanding new media platforms and residuals.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White said, “This was a particularly challenging negotiation and I am grateful to our Negotiating Committee and staff for their incredible determination and work. Several critical concerns related to travel pay and option periods were addressed, residuals for streaming new media were dramatically improved, we strengthened our benefit plans, and made historic gains for our background community. This agreement advances our members’ interests and positions us for success in the future. I am pleased that the board has voted to recommend approval to the membership.”
Formal negotiations between the 26-member SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Committee and the AMPTP began on Wednesday, May 31, in Los Angeles and concluded at 6 a.m. on July 4, 2017. The talks were preceded by Wages and Working Conditions meetings held this past spring.
The board also voted on a resolution for the upcoming public television contract negotiations, which covers dramatic and documentary programming. The resolution was passed overwhelmingly. Moreover, the Uptown Productions tentative live action agreement reached on May 3 was also approved. This contract includes huge gains in the areas of scale rates, residuals, and terms and conditions for background actors.
Additionally, the board voted to appoint Tom Choi and Dawnn Lewis to fill two vacant seats on the SAG-Producers Pension Trustee board.
The National Board received reports including:
President Carteris opened the meeting with a moment of silence in honor of members who have passed away since the last meeting. Carteris also reported on the union’s Telemundo contract negotiations and TV/Theatrical negotiations and shared the union’s official statement on the passing of stuntman John Bernecker.
National Executive Director’s Report
National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White delivered a summary overview of trends facing the union across its portfolio of contracts and its benefit plans, reported on the successes of the Member Care Contact Center’s first year in operation, and updated the Board on residuals processing and its direct deposit pilot program.
Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin and Chief Financial Officer Arianna Ozzanto gave the financial report for the year ended April 30, 2017. The presentation also included a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers in which they issued an unqualified audit opinion.
Ozzanto also reported a year-end surplus of over $14 million dollars due to expense management efforts and higher than expected revenue, mainly from dues and initiation fees.
Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez asked the board to authorize the executive committee to review and approve the Commercials Contract Local Codes, which was promptly approved.