As expected, the national board of SAG-AFTRA voted overwhelmingly tonight to approve the terms of a new three-year film and TV contract. It now will go to the union’s 165,000 members for final ratification. The new contract had been unanimously recommended to the board by the union’s negotiating committee, which included SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard and National Executive Director David White. The board tonight voted 90% to 10% to approve the new contract, which achieved the major goal of the union going into the talks: the unification of its two separate television contracts.

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When SAG and AFTRA merged in 2012, the new union was stuck with two separate pension and health plans, and two separate TV contracts. The unification of the TV contracts, which guild leaders called “historic,” is considered a major milestone in the still-evolving merger of the two unions.

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Image (3) Ken-Howard__130816005807.jpg for post 571760“Unifying the legacy SAG and AFTRA contracts was essential, and I am very pleased that we were able to achieve that,” 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.”

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The new contract includes wage increases of 8.7% over the next three years, 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. It also includes a 0.5% increase in employer contributions to the SAG Pension Plan and the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds in the first year of the agreement, raising the total contribution rate to 17%, retroactive to July 1.

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The elusive merger of the union’s two separate health plans was also addressed in the new pact. According to the union, the new deal includes “a mechanism to amend contract provisions, as necessary, to facilitate a merger of the health plans.”