SAG Contract Report #4: Actor Issues

This is the fourth in the Screen Actors Guild’s 2008 contract reports about issues. Report #1 discusses middle-income actors and #2< talks about New Media (at end of post), and #3 explores residuals. Now #4 explains some general topics:

Number 4 – General Topics of interest to Actors

This Contract Report (4th in a series) is designed to provide information on general topics being addressed in these negotiations of concern to all SAG members:

• Background Actors and Stand-In Wages & Working Conditions
It now takes a background actor 218 jobs to qualify for SAG health care Plan 1. Non-union people are taking more and more of our professional background actor’s jobs around the country where SAG Zones do not apply.

• Pension & Health Benefits
With a growing majority of uninsured Americans, health care is on everyone’s mind. For actors, it takes more work to qualify for our health plan. A middle-income actor has to work 38 days at scale to qualify for Plan 1 SAG health insurance. Our country is in a health care crisis. The SAG plan must remain a viable option for working actors and their families. As medical costs go up, so must employer contributions to our plan.

• Fair Market Value Deals
Actors deserve to be paid the fair market value rate for all transactions between all companies, even if the same corporation owns the entities. When applying residuals formulas based on distributor’s gross receipts, it is important to use values that accurately reflect the true value of transactions, not artificial numbers created by corporations for accounting purposes. In order to be able to accurately determine the fair market value of related party transactions, the union needs the cooperation of our employers. As the entertainment business continues to consolidate, and as more deals are being made within the same conglomerates, the issue of fair market valuation is becoming more and more of a concern.

• Mileage Reimbursement
You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that gas costs more than it did a week ago, let alone three years ago when this contract was negotiated. Actors drive to and from sets and get only 30 cents a mile.

Here’s What We are Asking For:
1. Improve coverage, compensation and scope of work for Background Actors and Stand-Ins.
2. Increase employer contributions to our P & H Fund and Industry Cooperative Advancement Fund.
3. Meaningful terms to ensure that fair market values are used as a basis for residual payments for transactions with affiliated entities. Identify & challenge employer transactions related to talent payments.
4. Increase mileage reimbursement to the IRS rate of 50.5 cents per mile.

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