Members of SAG-AFTRA have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new commercials contract. The union said the new three-year pact was approved by a vote of 96.85% but didn’t say how many ballots were cast. Postcards were mailed to roughly 136,000 members.
Union leaders have called it a “landmark” deal because it establishes three new flexible payment plans that are designed to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing advertising industry. “Technology, innovation and 24/7 media platforms have disrupted the traditional advertising model that our commercials contract was built on,” the union said in a video about the contract. “An evolving industry required a new approach to compensation that is simple, flexible and predictable.”
“This is an historic moment for our members, our union and this industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris, who chaired the guild’s negotiating committee. “Committed members from around the country created new contract options for an evolving commercial landscape. Our strength is always in our unity.”
Said David White, the guild’s national executive director and chief negotiators: “Members will see across-the-board wage increases for all categories of work, increases to the benefit plans, coverage of stunt coordinators, outsized gains to group dancers, protections against workplace sexual harassment and streamlined processes for commercial agents representing SAG-AFTRA members. I applaud President Carteris, our terrific member negotiating committee and our superb staff for securing these breakthrough achievements.”
The major innovations in the pact are what the guild calls upfront use packages. “The traditional elements of our contract remain an option for those advertisers who know and love that contract,” the union said, “and now we have three simple, flexible and predictable payment options as well.”
Highlights of the contracts include:
• New Upfront Use Packages provide performers with substantial upfront payments, creating simple and flexible structures for employers. It positions SAG-AFTRA to cover more work opportunities under the contract.
• Across-the-board wage increases of 6 percent (applicable to all categories of work, including background).
• Increased funding to the health and retirement/pension plans estimated at $22.2 million.
• Protections against sexual harassment.
• Coverage of stunt coordinators.
• Outsized gains to group dancers.
• Streamlined and radically improved renegotiation process for commercial agents representing SAG-AFTRA members.
The new agreements with the ad industry’s Joint Policy Committee took effect retroactive to April 1, 2019, and will remain in force through March 31, 2022. The new Upfront Use Packages will be available on June 1.