As negotiators work to beat the midnight deadline for a new SAG-AFTRA film and TV contract, the union has taken the first major step toward merging its two separate health care plans. Effective tomorrow, actors for the first time can combine their earnings under SAG and AFTRA’s separate film and TV contracts in order to reach the minimum threshold of $15,100 to qualify for SAG Plan II health benefits. Until now, hundreds of actors who didn’t earn enough under either of the union’s separate TV contracts had to go without union health coverage.
Income from SAG and AFTRA’s separate contracts earned from April 1, 2013, through March 31 will be combined. Going forward, all earnings reported to both plans during each applicable 12-month base earnings period will be combined to allow for greater access to union health benefits. It is, at least in part, a fulfillment of the promise that one day the union’s two separate plans would be merged into one — which a SAG-AFTRA official said last month was a key goal of the merged union.