The SAG-AFTRA national board has approved the successor deal for a new three-year master contract for primetime TV and feature films, triggering a ratification vote by members.
The contract was approved by 77.4% of the board, which met Saturday in a videoconference at union headquarters in Los Angeles and in New York.
Negotiators for SAG-AFTRA reached a tentative deal on July 4 with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, following three separate 24-hour contract extensions.
The union has touted “significant” improvements in the residuals rate paid to performers for exhibition of their performances on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. Under the new terms, actors will receive residuals for exhibition on subscription video on-demand platforms earlier, now after 90 days instead of after one year.
Additionally, the new formula contains a 300% increase in residuals within the first two years when exhibited worldwide on Netflix. The union also said background actors achieved gains including superior overtime rules for background actors working in the west coast zones, a higher minimum for photo doubles and a pay increase for work on shows for the CW.
SAG-AFTRA also said it achieved a “historic breakthrough” in the rules governing travel for television performers, including an up to five-fold increase in the fees due to series performers who work at locations away from home. Secretary-treasurer Jane Austin, who is seeking re-election, and presidential candidate Peter Antico have objected to the new travel provisions.
Members who are eligible to vote will receive a postcard with ballot instructions explaining how to vote electronically or how to request a paper ballot. The postcard will be mailed to members on or about July 17. Ratification votes received by the voting deadline of approximately Aug. 7 (electronically or by mail) will be tabulated on the same day.
The union also plans to hold informational meetings to discuss the tentative agreement. The term of the new agreement is for three years effective July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2020 and is retroactive upon ratification.
After a month of negotiations, SAG-AFTRA’s national board voted on June 25 to seek a strike authorization from members if a deal wasn’t reached by June 30 and cited “outrageous rollbacks” that the AMPTP was proposing. But it never disclosed the specifics of those rollbacks other than at a closed-door meeting in Studio City on June 28, in keeping with its policy of keeping details of its proposal under wraps.
SAG-AFTRA President and Negotiating Committee Chair Gabrielle Carteris said Saturday, “I am thankful to the board for its approval and recommendation of this agreement, and am delighted at what the negotiating team was able to achieve. We have negotiated a forward-looking package with meaningful gains across our entire membership. This agreement would not have been possible without the members’ collective feedback and our comprehensive Wages and Working Conditions meetings.”
“Together, we have achieved a comprehensive, modern agreement that lays the foundation for success for years to come. We established substantial compensation gains, especially in the expanding new media platforms and residuals,” she added.
Carteris, who was appointed last year to replace Ken Howard as president, announced on July 12 that she was seeking election as president. Esai Morales and Antico are also running for the post.
The contract covers work by SAG-AFTRA members that generates more than $1 billion in annual compensation. The union has about 160,000 members.
The Writers Guild of America reached a three-year deal on its master contract with the AMPTP on May 1, less than an hour before the guild’s contract expired. The WGA already had a strike authorization with 96% support from members two weeks earlier.
The WGA’s deal included provisions to ensure the solvency of the health plan, a new formula for increasing compensation for writers on short seasons, expansion of the limitations on options and exclusivity, increased residuals for made-for-pay TV programs and programs made for high budget subscription video on demand, and, for the first time ever in a WGA contract, a provision guaranteeing parental leave.