SAG-AFTRA leaders are seeking a strike authorization from members working in TV animation with a July 18 deadline to respond.
The key issue for the union is the refusal of employers to provide scale wages or residuals in the fastest-growing area of animated performer’s work — animated programs made for subscription-based streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. More than 75% of those voting must approve of the strike authorization for SAG-AFTRA’s national board to call a strike.
“Animation performers need the power of a strike authorization to avoid losing the hard-fought gains that generations of performers before them have struggled to win,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris in a recent message to members. “That is why the National Board has unanimously recommended that you vote YES to authorize a strike, if necessary, of these agreements. A strike authorization does not mean that a strike will necessarily happen, but it gives animation performers an additional tool to negotiate their contracts.”
The authorization was sent to “affected members” around July 1. The union has scheduled informational meetings in Los Angeles and New York on July 10.
The strike authorization campaign has the backing of a number of high-profile performers include Pamela Adlon, Ed Asner, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellanata, Nick Kroll, Laraine Newman, Patton Oswalt, Cassandra Peterson and Mindy Sterling. Carteris noted in her message that performers have been working under TV animation agreements that expired on June 30, 2017, and that more than 20 animated series produced for initial exhibition on a subscription-based streaming platform have gone into production.
“Because that work is not covered by the traditional terms of our TV Animation Agreements, our animation performers do not have the benefit of scale minimums when they work on these programs, the overwhelming majority of which will never pay residuals for any new media exhibition,” she said. “In other words, when you go to work on an animated program made for new media, the producer can pay you as little as you are willing to accept and will likely be able to use the program on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, etc. for subscribers to view or customers to pay to download forever without ever paying you a residual.”
Carteris also noted that Disney announced that it is launching its own streaming platform, where it will house original animated content and that Warner Bros. has launched a streaming platform for animated content called Boomerang and recently renegotiated several series that it was initially producing for basic cable to be made for its Boomerang platform instead.
“Our animation performers are the most talented professionals in their field and they deserve professional terms and conditions when they work,” Carteris said. “Scale wages and residuals are what allow all of our members to sustain themselves in their careers. Producers should not expect our members to make contractual concessions to achieve a watered-down version of these standard terms. Only a demonstration of solidarity and resolve can change this result.”
(pictured: Netflix’s “Bojack Horseman”)