SAG-AFTRA’s national board has approved the tentative deal with production companies for a three-year master contract covering movie and primetime TV work.
Saturday’s action by the performers union board triggers a ratification vote by the 165,000 SAG-AFTRA members.
Postcards notifying members about voting will be mailed out July 23. Members can vote electronically or by paper ballot with a deadline of Aug. 22, when the votes will be counted.
The board met for more than 12 hours and recommended approval of the new deal with 90% of the board members in favor.
SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached the agreement July 4 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.
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Aside from unifying the SAG and AFTRA TV contracts, the tentative agreement largely mirrored the gains achieved by the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America in their new master contracts earlier this year. The TV minimums will be based on the lower SAG rate.
If approved by members, the new contract will replace the separate SAG and AFTRA contracts which have remained in effect since the 2012 merger. The new contract would be retroactive to July 1.
SAG-AFTRA said that members-only informational meetings will take place. The union did not amplify on the details contained in the July 4 announcement but noted that it will release details of the agreement prior to the balloting period.
Howard said in statement Saturday, “I am grateful to the board for its approval and recommendation of this agreement and I am proud of what the negotiating team was able to achieve in this negotiation. The unification of the contracts was a priority for us and is a significant gain as is the wage increase — this is the first 3 percent increase in a couple of contract cycles and that is great. This landmark agreement includes provisions that will serve the members for years to come.”
The board also approved the appointment of a negotiating committee for its Network Code contract and said its “wages and working conditions” committee will hold meetings with members to begin forumulating a proposal between Aug. 11 and Sept. 5. The current pact — which was covered by AFTRA prior to the merger — includes TV programs outside of primetime such as morning news shows, talk shows, soap operas, variety, reality, contests, sports, first-run syndicated dramas and promotional announcements.
Current programs covered by this contract include: “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “The Price is Right,” “General Hospital,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “20/20,” and “Late Show with David Letterman.”
The union said Secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino and CFO Arianna Ozzanto reported on the union’s financial status for the fiscal year ended April 30, including an unqualified audit opinion from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ozzanto disclosed a year-end surplus of $8 million, citing expense management efforts and increased revenue from dues and initiation fees.
Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland reported on the ongoing distribution of foreign royalties to SAG-AFTRA members. The board approved “enhanced and renewed” foreign royalties collection agreements with collecting societies in Spain and Germany.
Former SAG president Ed Asner and 15 other plaintiffs sued SAG-AFTRA last year over alleged mishandling of $132 million in residuals and foreign royalties. A federal judge granted SAG-AFTRA’s dismissal motion in January, noting the union has been sufficiently cooperative in providing access to its materials but indicating that the plaintiffs could re-visit the issues.