UPDATED, 12:50PM: Leaders of SAG-AFTRA, calling their new film and TV contract “historic,” have something to celebrate this Fourth of July. The tentative new contract, reached early this morning after two months of hard bargaining, achieved the major goal of the union going into the talks: the merger of its two separate TV contracts.
When SAG-AFTRA merged in 2012, it was stuck with two separate pension and health plans and two separate TV contracts, which allowed TV producers to shop for the best terms. This anomaly created a landslide of producers rushing to shoot their projects under AFTRA’s TV contract, which was threatening to dry up employer contributions to SAG’s pension and health plan.
The new contract also achieved the first industry-wide agreement for performers in basic cable production, which now will be incorporated into the new Television Agreement.
In short, it’s a huge victory for the union, and a major milestone on the road to completing the merger of the two unions that was started two years ago.
“Unifying the legacy SAG and AFTRA contracts was essential, and I am very pleased that we were able to achieve that,” SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard said in a statement. “As important, we have established an industry-wide, basic cable agreement – something we have wanted for two decades. We’ve also secured a very competitive wage package for members and a large bump in our pension, health and retirement contributions. This is a great package with real, measurable gains in numerous areas of our agreements.”
The new contract includes wage increases of 8.5%, compounding to 8.7% over the next three years, and an additional 0.5% to the employer contributions to the union’s two separate pension and health plans. The new pact also provides outsized 5% annual pay raises for background performers, raises in network primetime residuals ceilings and improved terms and conditions and full TV rate minimums for productions made for SVOD services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and similar platforms.
Management’s Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers hailed the agreement as a great deal for the industry.
“We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with SAG-AFTRA for theatrical, television and new media production,” the AMPTP said in a statement. “This deal memorializes our partnership with the new union as we worked together to forge a new unified television agreement. The entire industry gains the assurance of a third and final agreement with the above-the-line unions. We congratulate SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard, national executive director David White, chief contracts officer Ray Rodriguez and all of the members of the SAG-AFTRA bargaining committee on a successful negotiation.”
Howard also thanked the union’s negotiating team. “Each of them took time away from work and family to serve the members in these negotiations,” he said. “We all are grateful for the terrific leadership of our chief negotiator David White and our full negotiating team. Because of their dedication and thorough preparation, we remained unified throughout this process and really delivered for SAG-AFTRA members.”
The unsung hero of the talks, however, is AMPTP President Carol Lombardini, who everyone forgot to thank but whose leadership in negotiating this contract – and the DGA and WGA pacts before it – ensure that the industry will be free of major strikes for the next three years.
PREVIOUSLY: Howard and White announced the deal to SAG-AFTRA members today in a letter posted on the guild’s website. Read it below, followed by its official release announcing the tentative deal, which will be presented to the National Board of Directors on July 12 and, if approved, would go to a membership vote for ratification.:
We are pleased to announce that last night we reached a tentative agreement in our TV/Theatrical Contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
We achieved a number of significant gains, including the historic unification of our legacy SAG and AFTRA primetime television contracts into one SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement. This new contract will also incorporate the first ever industry-wide agreement in basic cable live action production. The deal also calls for improved terms and conditions and full television rate minimums for productions made for subscription video on demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and similar platforms.
Members will receive wage increases of 8.5%, compounding to 8.7% over the three-year term. Producers will further contribute an additional 0.5% to the Pension, Health and Retirement plans. We gained outsized wage increases of 5% per year over the three-year term for background performers on the CW and for stand-ins.
Additional enhancements include raises in network primetime residuals ceilings and increases in the streaming residual rate for ad supported video on demand.
An overview of the agreement is included in the report below.
The Negotiating Committee will be recommending this package to the National Board of Directors on Saturday, July 12th. More information will also be available on http://www.sagaftra.org.
Wishing you a happy Independence Day.
Ken Howard, President and National Chair of the TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee
David White, National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator
LOS ANGELES (July 4, 2014) — Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) today announced it has reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on successor agreements covering motion pictures, scripted prime-time dramatic television and new media production.
The tentative deal unifies SAG and AFTRA television contracts under a new 2014 SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement. In addition, the first industry-wide agreement for performers in basic cable production is now incorporated into the new Television Agreement.
The union secured wage increases of 2.5 percent in the first year, 3 percent in the second year, and 3 percent in the third year. Wage improvements are retroactive to July 1, 2014.
Additionally, there is a first-year increase of .5 percent in the contribution rate applicable to the Screen Actors Guild-Producers Pension Plan and the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds, bringing the total benefits contribution rate to 17 percent.
The union also achieved outsized wage increases of 5 percent per year over the three-year term for all stand-ins and for background performers employed under The CW Supplement.
Significant improvements were secured in the residuals rate paid to performers for streaming product from 3.5 percent of minimum to 4 percent in year one, from 4 percent to 4.5 percent in year two and from 4.5 percent to 5 percent in year three. Along with the rate increase, the union also narrowed the producers’ free streaming window from 17 days to 7 days, meaning that performers are more likely to accrue streaming residuals.
Additional gains in new media include the establishment of terms, similar to those in television, for minimums and residuals formulas for high-budget original product made for subscriber video-on-demand (SVOD) services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and similar platforms.
Other provisions include enhancements in the network primetime residuals ceilings.
The new three-year agreement is subject to approval by the SAG-AFTRA National Board of Directors and ratification by the union’s membership.
Highlights of the tentative agreement include:
— 3-year agreement commencing July 1, 2014 and expiring June 30, 2017
— Contract unification including the first SAG-AFTRA industry-wide agreement covering basic cable
Wage increases of 2.5 percent in the first year, 3 percent in the second year and 3 percent in the third year
— A half-percent increase in the current rate of employer contributions paid to the Screen Actors Guild-Producers Pension Plan and AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds in the first year of the agreement, raising the total contribution rate to 17 percent effective July 1, 2014
— An outsized increase for stand-ins of 5 percent per year in each of the three years of the contract
— Developed a contribution allocation method to help stabilize the funding of the pension, health and retirement funds
— An agreement to pursue merger of the legacy unions’ industry cooperative funds
— A mechanism to amend contract provisions, as necessary, to facilitate a merger of the health plans
— Other gains include an increase to the rate paid to performers for streaming product, a reduction in the free streaming window from 17 days to 7 days, and improved residuals formulas
— An increase in the amount of money performers must be paid before their residuals can be advance paid in several areas, including under The CW Supplement
— Additional covered background actor positions in the Western Zones in TV and Theatrical beginning in year two of the contract by excluding more stand-ins from the count. Two additional stand-ins will be excluded from the count in television in the second year and one stand-in will be excluded from the count in theatrical productions
— Allowance increases in several areas
SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard said, “Unifying the legacy SAG and AFTRA contracts was essential and I am very pleased that we were able to achieve that. As important, we have established an industry-wide, basic cable agreement – something we have wanted for two decades.
“We’ve also secured a very competitive wage package for members and a large bump in our pension, health and retirement contributions.
“This is a great package with real, measurable gains in numerous areas of our agreements. I want to thank the negotiating committee members for their service. Each of them took time away from work and family to serve the members in these negotiations. We all are grateful for the terrific leadership of our Chief Negotiator David White and our full negotiating team. Because of their dedication and thorough preparation, we remained unified throughout this process and really delivered for SAG-AFTRA members.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White said, “The leadership has done exemplary work here and has secured a hard-fought and valuable agreement. I am proud and pleased to have worked side-by-side with President Ken Howard and the negotiating committee to achieve this historic milestone for SAG-AFTRA. Not only did we unify our agreements, a critical step in our march towards a merger of our benefits plans, but we now have improvements in the pension, health and retirement contribution rates, outsized gains for background actors and stand-ins and significant enhancements in other areas.
“Throughout the wages and working conditions process our members told us where they were feeling pain and the areas on which we should focus. We met that directive and have delivered a valuable set of gains in the face of tough bargaining from the member companies of the AMPTP. I am very proud of our committee’s work and of the many contributions of our negotiations team, in particular our Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez, Senior Adviser John McGuire, Associate National Executive Director Mathis Dunn, Assistant National Executive Director Joan Halpern Weise and the rest of our professional staff.”
Details of the new agreement will be submitted for review and approval by the SAG-AFTRA National Board of Directors at its regularly scheduled meeting on July 12. Upon approval, the pact will be sent out for ratification by the union’s membership.
Formal negotiations between the 26-member SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Committee and the AMPTP began on Monday, May 5, in Los Angeles and concluded at Midnight on July 4, 2014.