The deal received 92% support from the approximately 22,000 who cast ballots following a campaign by union leaders touting a $200 million increase in compensation over its term. Little opposition emerged to the new deal, which was reached by negotiators on July 4.
The new contract replaces the separate SAG and AFTRA contracts that were negotiated prior to the 2012 merger of the two performers unions. It’s retroactive to July 1 and runs through June 30, 2017.
With the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America already having new three-year master contracts go into effect earlier this year, the completion of the SAG-AFTRA deal guarantees labor peace in Hollywood for until the next round of negotiations starts, probably in late 2016.
The union did not disclose the exact number of how many dues-current members voted among the 137,000 who were sent ballots. Members were able to vote electronically or by paper ballots.
SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard said, “Once again, we have made history. With the approval of the first-ever SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement, we have reached yet another of the goals we set when we merged.”
SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached the agreement July 4 — four days past the contract expiration — following two months of negotiations.
In a message to members that day, the union touted “significant gains” in the new tentative deal — including a compounded 8.7% hike in minimums over three years; unification of the SAG and AFTRA TV contracts; and improved terms and conditions and full TV rate minimums for productions made for SVOD services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.
The producers will increase their contribution to the separate SAG and AFTRA pension and health plans by 0.5% to 17%. The AMPTP — which serves as the bargaining arm for producers — has also agreed to take steps toward merging the plans.
Aside from unifying the SAG and AFTRA TV contracts, the tentative agreement largely mirrored the gains achieved by the DGA and the WGA in their new master contracts earlier this year. The TV minimums will be based on the lower SAG rate.
“This is a terrific result for our first TV/Theatrical negotiation as a merged union,” said David White, the union’s national exec director. “I want to thank the SAG-AFTRA members and staff who dedicated their time and tireless effort to these negotiations. We emerged with solid financial gains and with a structural foundation that supports the union’s strategic goals well into the future.”
The AMPTP issued a statement in response: “We congratulate Ken Howard, David White, the SAG-AFTRA Bargaining Committee and Board for their leadership in achieving ratification of the new theatrical and television agreement. Together, we undertook the historic step of creating a unified television contract and set the stage for expanding market opportunities that benefit both the union and the companies. We look forward to our continued partnership with SAG-AFTRA to address the challenges and complexities of our industry during the term of the new agreements.”