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SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Proposal for New Film-TV Contract

The SAG-AFTRA national board has approved proposals for a successor deal to its master contract covering feature film and primetime television — a key step in the upcoming negotiations cycle with companies.

The board approved the package Saturday with the performers union declining to reveal any specifics — its usual policy. The board established the wages and working conditions committee in April to craft the proposals and appointed president Gabrielle Carteris as chair — a post that she filled in the 2017 round of negotiations.

The current three-year deal with the studios, negotiated through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, will expire on June 30. The contract covers work by SAG-AFTRA members that generates more than $1 billion in annual compensation. The union has about 160,000 members. No date has been set for launching negotiations. The AMPTP had no comment Sunday.

The current pact generated opposition from about one in every four members who voted. SAG-AFTRA touted “significant” improvements in the residuals rate paid to performers for exhibition of their performances on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. The new formula contains a 300% increase in residuals within the first two years when exhibited worldwide on Netflix. Negotiations went three days past the contract expiration before a tentative deal was reached.

The union has also begun including protections against workplace sexual harassment in its master contracts starting last year, placing limits on auditions in hotel rooms and private residences. SAG-AFTRA announced Saturday that it had signed a three-year deal with Netflix that expires in 2022 with performance capture and dubbing as covered work, which applies to all of Netflix’s foreign-language live-action and animated motion pictures dubbed into English.

The Directors Guild of America has tended to go first of Hollywood’s three major guilds in recent rounds of negotiations with the AMPTP, followed by SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America. The DGA’s current master contract with the AMPTP also expires on June 30, 2020, while the WGA’s deal will expire on May 1, 2020.

The DGA announced earlier this year that Jon Avnet and Todd Holland had been appointed co-chairs of the next DGA Feature Film and Television Negotiations Committee. It has also not yet set a date for the start of negotiations with the AMPTP.

DGA members ratified the current pact in early 2017 with a major gain in residuals on programs made for High Budget Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) — covering such services as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu — along with residuals payments for related foreign SVOD services and significant increases in the residuals for high-budget feature-length projects. It also included wage increases of 2.5% in the first year of the agreement and 3% in the second and third years.

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