SAG-AFTRA and the major networks have reached an agreement on a new Network Television Code, covering nonprimetime TV shows. The current pact expires Saturday. The deal now goes to the union’s board of directors and, if approved there, on to the union’s members for ratification. The contract is a successor agreement to pre-merger AFTRA Network Code, which had been AFTRA’s biggest contract, generating more than $250 million a year in member earnings. It covers syndicated programs, soap operas, news broadcasts and reality, quiz, and game shows. SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard chaired the talks for the union, and SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White was the union’s chief negotiator. Here is SAG-AFTRA’s release with terms and details of the deal:
LOS ANGELES (Nov. 14, 2014) – SAG-AFTRA today announced a tentative agreement has been reached with the four major television broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) and other producers on terms for a successor agreement to the SAG-AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting (Network Television Code). Negotiations with the signatory producers began on Nov. 3 in Sherman Oaks, California.
The contract term runs Nov. 16, 2014 to June 30, 2018.
SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard, who chaired the member negotiating committee, praised the tentative agreement, saying, “With the successful conclusion of this negotiation, we have finished unifying our legacy television contracts under SAG-AFTRA. We’ve made significant gains in important areas, including wage increases and improvements in streaming residual rates. I want to thank my vice chairs, Executive Vice President Gabrielle Carteris and New York President Mike Hodge, as well as the many members from across the country who served on the negotiating committee. I also want to thank National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White for his extraordinary work on the many achievements in this contract.”
White said, “I am pleased with the important gains we’ve achieved in this negotiation, including significant increases for background actors, stand-ins, stunt coordinators and singers. I would like to congratulate President Howard and all the members of the committee on their achievements in this agreement. I also want to recognize the diligence and contributions of our negotiations team, in particular our Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez, Assistant National Executive Director Joan Halpern Weise and Associate National Executive Director Mathis Dunn and the rest of our supremely talented and tenacious professional staff.”
Contract highlights 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.
In accordance with customary practice, automatic 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;
and 6.1 percent overall wage increases for work in network news, implemented through increases of 2 percent per year for three years;
An increase in contributions to the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds 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, and $16.50 per hour to $22.50 per hour, respectively;
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 multi-tracking 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;
A reduction in streaming windows and increases in the streaming residuals rate consistent with the industry pattern;
Language that helps facilitate the merging of the SAG and AFTRA benefit plans.
The negotiating committee consisted of performers, including principal performers, background actors, promo announcers, stand-ins, singers and dancers.
Employment under the Network Television Code generates more than $200 million a year in covered member earnings. The Code covers programming in all television day parts (except for scripted primetime programs on the networks and the CW, which is covered under the SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement) and programming produced for digital media. Covered programs include dramas in first-run syndication, morning news shows, talk shows, serials (soap operas), variety, reality, contest, sports and promotional announcements. Current programs covered by this contract include: Good Morning America, The View, The Price is Right, The Young and the Restless, Saturday Night Live, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, Amazing Race, Nightline and Late Night with David Letterman, among many others.
The tentative agreement will be submitted for approval to the SAG-AFTRA National Board at its next meeting. Subject to the board’s approval, the agreement will then be sent out for ratification by the union’s membership.