SAG-AFTRA: Exclusive Post-Merger Details

EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained new and confirmed details about the proposed union formed by the SAG-AFTRA Merger as approved by the National Boards Of Directors. To date, neither SAG nor AFTRA have released any referendumpackage details. The memberships will be asked to vote on the referendum package shortly. It is vital for each actor and performer to know how their unions will change because of the merger:

New Dues Structure:

New Initiation Fee: $3,000
(Previously $1,600 at AFTRA, $2,230 at SAG)

What you should know: AFTRA has refused to suspend its “open door policy” during the interim before merger passes or fails. Which means that from now until the effective date, anyone with $1,600 can walk up to the AFTRA cashier and join. Meaning they won’t have to pay the difference between $1,600 and post-merger $3,000. “This potential flood of newbies will absolutely kill the background community,” one of my sources says.

New Base Dues: $198.00
(Previously $116 at SAG.)

New Work Dues

For Actors
1.575% with a cap of $500,000
Maximum work and base dues: $8,073

For Broadcasters:
Tier 1: $0 – $100,000 – 1.575%
Tier 2: $100,001-$250,000 – .274% ($250,000 cap)
Maximum work and base dues: $2,184

What you should know: Between 60%-70% of SAG members will see their dues increase from $116 to $198 (or +$82). Roughly 30% or less of SAG members will see a decrease believed to be $45 purely due to the fact that they will no longer be paying two dues bills. Broadcasters are getting a huge break on the work dues percentage after $100,000 and a big break on the maximum work and base dues.

Union vs Non-Union:

Broadcasters in the new union will still be allowed to work non-union (CNN, CNBC, ESPN, MSNBC, etc…) and make tens of thousands of dollars without owing any dues on that money.

Actors in the new union will still be prohibited from working non-union.

New Entrance Structure:

Previous members of either SAG or AFTRA or both prior to merger are automatically a member of the new SAG-AFTRA union.

The three voucher system is one of the entrance requirements.

If non-union actors can prove they have been trying to organize non-union work, they can become a member of the new SAG-AFTRA union. Unclear is how they will be able to prove that or how the union will be able to substantiate the proof.

New Leadership, Old Staff:

Convention will be the highest governing body. It will meet only every 2 years.

There will be 80 Board members, including 10 national officers: President, Executive VP, Secretary Treasurer, and 7 more VPs. The President and the Secretary/Treasurer will be directly elected, as will the 60 board seats. The 8 remaining officers will be elected via convention. Executive Vice President is elected via convention. Everyone elected will be eligible to receive monthly salaries which could include assistance with qualifying for health insurance.

What You Should Know: The President is now mostly a figurehead. The Executive Vice President is the most powerful position. Although actors will make up the overwhelming majority of the new union, that power will not be reflected on the Board or on committees. Hollywood will no longer hold the majority on the new union’s Board or any of its committees even though Hollywood represents over 60% of the membership and brings in over 65% of the new union’s revenue.

All currently employed SAG and AFTRA staff keep their jobs after merger.

Pension and Health:

No study was done. Only a cursory review.

There are no laws prohibiting the merging of the plans.

Retirees are protected by federal law.

Accrued pension credits cannot be eliminated. Which means that any member who has accrued pension credits prior to merger will have those credits after merger.

What You Should Know: There is still a huge discrepancy between SAG’s and AFTRA’s health and retirement plans. No answers will be provided in time for the referendum package with regard to what will happen to the plans after the unions merge. Questions left hanging include whether the plans will be combined or frozen and what the new eligibility requirements and premiums will be. Also unanswered if what happens if SAG’s or AFTRA’s pension plans dip into the ‘yellow’ or ‘red’ zone which then reduces the guaranteed dollar value of what the retiree is expecting. Also still fuzzy is what happens to the overwhelming majority of members who have not earned enough pension credits to be considered ‘vested’ and still need to earn pension credits to reach that threshold.

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