- Tuesday, Jul. 4, 2017
- LOS ANGELES
The 4th of July was a day for celebration on the labor front as the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) announced this morning that they reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year master film/television contract. The pact spans successor agreements covering motion pictures, scripted primetime dramatic TV and new media production.
The prior master contract, which expired on June 30, was extended on a day-by-day basis so that negotiations could continue, ultimately yielding a deal which now requires approval from the union’s board of directors and then ratification by SAG-AFTRA members.
Formal contract talks began on May 31. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris chaired the union’s negotiating committee and national executive director David White served as SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator. Lead negotiator for the AMPTP was its president, Carol Lombardini.
If a deal hadn’t been reached, SAG-AFTRA’s national board had voted to seek a strike authorization vote from its members.
According to SAG-AFTRA, significant improvements were secured 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 percent increase in residuals to performers within their first two years when their work is exhibited worldwide on Netflix.
SAG-AFTRA said it 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 have been rationalized and clarified, closing many loopholes and ambiguities that have allowed for abuse.
The union reported that series performer option rules were greatly improved, with the effect of reducing exclusivity periods for many series performers during which they can be held off the market.
In what SAG-AFTRA described as an unprecedented breakthrough, the new deal improves the overtime provisions for background actors working in the West Coast Zones so that they match New York standards while protecting against the attempted removal of night premiums in the New York Zone. Additionally, the union committee improved the pay rate for photo doubles and achieved superior terms for background actors employed under the CW Supplement.
The committee also secured an additional 5 percent increase in the first year of the contract for stunt coordinators working under flat deal contracts in television.
Additionally, there is a first-year increase of .5 percent in the contribution rate applicable to the SAG Pension Plan and the AFTRA Retirement Fund, bringing the total benefits contribution rate to 17.5 percent. The union may also elect to convert an additional one half of one percent from the wage package in each of the second and third year.
Notable features of the tentative agreement cited by SAG/AFTRA include:
- Total package valued at $256 million over three years
- 3-year agreement commencing July 1, 2017 and expiring June 30, 2020
- Wage increases of 2.5 percent in the first year, 3 percent in the second year and 3 percent in the third year
- Half percent increase in the current rate of employer contributions paid to the SAG Pension Plan and AFTRA Retirement Fund in the first year of the agreement, raising the total contribution rate to 17.5 percent effective July 1, 2017
- Secured an additional .2 percent increase in funding to the SAG-AFTRA industry cooperative funds, which will support monitoring animal safety on sets, safety training and sexual harassment prevention training
- Achieved recognition of Middle Eastern North African as a diverse category in the casting data report
- Agreement to study the design and implementation of an electronic reporting system for performer work times
- Improved residuals for programming made for SVOD (subscription video-on-demand)
- First residual is now due in 90 days rather than one year
- Increase in the residual rate
- First ever residuals compensation for foreign use
- Improvements to money and schedule breaks
- Improvements to the advertiser-supported streaming residuals
- Outsized increase of 18 percent for background actors working under the CW supplement
- Terms requiring that all background actors be paid double-time starting after 10 hours of work
SAG-AFTRA's Carteris said, “This is a forward-looking package with meaningful gains across our entire membership. Working with our terrific negotiating committee and staff, we achieved significant improvements in streaming new media compensation. We also established comprehensive travel guidelines to eliminate ambiguity and provide a seasonal fee schedule for location series work.
“Over the last 18 months, I’ve met and talked extensively with members throughout the country. Those conversations, along with our comprehensive Wages and Working Conditions meetings, guided our bargaining strategy and helped build strength and unity. I am grateful to our members for their input and steadfast support which helped us achieve this excellent result.”