Members of SAG-AFTRA have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new Network Television Code agreement covering nonprimetime shows on the Big 4 networks. The new three-year pact — which runs through June 30, 2018 — was approved by 96.5% of the members who cast ballots, though the union, as is its custom, would not say how many members actually voted. SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard has called the new agreement, which the guild’s board approved in December, “a terrific deal” that achieved “significant gains.”

JFK Assassination 50th Anniversary“I congratulate our members on ratifying this excellent agreement,” Howard, who chaired the negotiating committee, said in a statement tonight. “Our members will benefit from increased wages and overtime rates, expanded residuals and stronger protections. No matter the platform or type of work, SAG-AFTRA members working under this contract can be proud of the solid gains we achieved.”

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The contract, which generates more than $200 million a year in earnings for performers, covers soap operas, game shows, reality shows, talk shows, morning news shows, dramas in first-run syndication, variety shows and programming produced for digital media. Current programs covered by this contract include The Price Is Right, Saturday Night Live, The View, The Young And The Restless, Dancing With The Stars, The Voice, The Amazing Race, Good Morning America, Nightline, Late Night With David Letterman, among many others.

Highlights of the new contract include:

• Increases in contract minimums over a three-year period, including an 8.7-percent overall wage increase to most program fees, implemented through increases of 2.5 percent the first year, 3 percent the second year and 3 percent the third year;
• Increases in other categories as follows:
• A 7.2-percent overall wage increase for serial (soap opera) performers, implemented through increases of 2 percent the first year, 2.5 percent the second year and 2.5 percent the third year;
• A 6.1-percent increase in overall wages for news inserts/news service fees, implemented through increases of 2 percent the first year, 2 percent the second year and 2 percent the third year;
• An increase in contributions to the AFTRA Retirement Fund of .5 percent, starting in year one;
• Expands the ability for stunt coordinators to work under this contract;
• A 36-percent increase to background rehearsal rates in year two, from $11 per hour to $15 per hour, and a 12-percent increase for principal rehearsal rates in year two from $25 per hour to $28 per hour;
• Increases in the overtime rate from $37.50 per hour to $42 per hour for principals and $16.50 per hour to $22.50 per hour for background actors;
• An 8-percent increase in the stand-in rate for non-dramatic programming, increasing from $24 per hour to $25 per hour in year one, and from $25 per hour to $26 per hour in year three;
• For the first time, achieved a premium payment for solo/duo singers for multitracking and sweetening;
• Agreement that a bulletin will be issued to producers of content under this agreement to help ensure adequate warm-up space for dancers;
• Increases in the streaming residuals rate and a reduction in streaming windows, consistent with the industry pattern; and
• Language to help facilitate the merger of the SAG and AFTRA benefit plans.