The American Federation of Musicians has wrapped up a new contract with the movie studios and TV networks, calling for a 2 percent across-the-board wage hike and other benefits.
The AFM completed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Friday, a spokesman said. The new 3-year pact, once ratified by the musicians, will run through approximately April 2018. The old one expired February 2013 and musicians have been working on an extension of that pact ever since.
The agreements cover work done by professional musicians, arrangers, copyists, leaders, conductors and “sideline musicians” (those who appear on camera during shooting) whose work is used in film and TV scores in the U.S. and Canada. It does not cover composition work.
The deal, AFM president Ray Hair said in a statement, “preserves the fundamental economic and residual structures of our film agreements… We were able to hold the line and bargain progressive increases.”
The “residual structures” refers to the so-called “back-end payments” that have become controversial within the L.A. music community and are blamed for a 68 percent decline in wages for musicians over the past 15 years.
Production companies that are not signatories to the AFM contract are mostly opposed to paying residuals and are increasingly fleeing to London or Eastern Europe where they can pay a premium (a “buyout”) and avoid any future payments on successful films.
Critics of the union are pushing for a “buyout” clause that would, theoretically, allow companies to record in L.A. without future financial obligations to musicians. Union execs have been loath to consider giving up a long-held, hard-won residual payment that is similar to those granted actors, writers, directors and other crew members.
The new deal does not change the status quo. New leadership at L.A. Local 47, which took office on Monday, has sent signals that it may be willing to experiment with “buyout” provisions.