The deals had been set to expire at midnight tonight. The union and the producers made the joint announcement less than an hour before contract expiration and said they would have no further comment.
“Negotiations will continue under the previously announced media blackout,” the announcement said.
The talks, which began May 5, have been held under a strict news blackout. People familiar with the negotiations say that they were originally planned to conclude June 13, but have continued due to unresolved issues raised by the 2012 merger of SAG and AFTRA.
The current SAG and AFTRA master contracts were reached before the 2012 merger of the two unions — forcing negotiators to bargain for the past eight weeks over several complicated issues: whether to create a single new master contract or continue with the current SAG and AFTRA deals; whether the AMPTP will support the union’s goal of merging the separate SAG and AFTRA pension and health plans; how to deal with AFTRA’s slightly higher pay scale for TV work.
Before the SAG-AFTRA negotiations started, the new master contracts for the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America had already set the basic outlines for the actors union’s new contract.
Current SAG-AFTRA leaders backed the 2012 merger, insisted that the combined union would have more negotiating power. The pro-merger campaigners also claimed that merging would be a first step toward resolving the problem of members contributing to separate SAG and AFTRA health plans and not earning enough to qualify for either.
The WGA deal — which went into effect May 1 — included a 3% annual wage increase and a 0.5% increase in the contribution to the pension fund; higher payments for ad-supported online streaming; a reduced free streaming window from 17 days to seven days for the first seven episodes of a series; and provisions spelling out exclusivity rules for TV writers earning under $200,000 a year.
Members of the DGA ratified a successor deal in January that goes into effect Tuesday. Gains include an annual 3% wage increase; increased residual bases; significant improvements in basic cable; the establishment of minimum terms and conditions for high-budget new media made for subscription video on demand; and establishment of a formal diversity program at every major TV studio.