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SAG-AFTRA Signs Netflix Deal With Expanded Coverage

SAG-AFTRA and streaming giant Netflix have agreed to a new three-year contract with expanded coverage for union performers.

Netflix has previously employed SAG-AFTRA members under the union’s standard master contracts for television and film and had been signing on a production by production basis.

The union announced Saturday that the new deal recognizes performance capture as covered work and includes coverage of dubbing, which applies to all of Netflix’s foreign-language live-action and animated motion pictures dubbed into English.

The deal was approved Saturday by the union’s national board by an “overwhelming” margin, although SAG-AFTRA did not specify the exact numbers. The agreement, which expires on June 30, 2022, does not require ratification by the union’s membership.

SAG-AFTRA said the new deal also includes gains in theatrical residuals, greater rights for members in the areas of options and exclusivity, improved overtime rules for stunt performers and specific protections for members regarding harassment and auditions. It gave no specific numbers for the gains in residuals.

It also includes the same harassment protections contained in the recent deals for non-primetime TV and commercial contracts in addition to a ban on auditions in private residences and hotel rooms — a policy SAG-AFTRA enacted last year in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal.

“Netflix has set the industry standard with its Respect at Netflix program that is held as the gold standard in the industry for awareness of gender equality and promoting the participation of all regardless of gender, ethnicity or race,” the union said Saturday.

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said, “We are always looking to adapt and grow within the changing environment of our industry. This groundbreaking agreement speaks to that. Netflix recognizes the value of working with SAG-AFTRA members, and the contributions we make in this global industry. I am gratified that this deal achieved longstanding member goals in particular the recognition of performance capture work, and other important improvements that members want and deserve.”

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement: “We are pleased that we were able to work with SAG-AFTRA to address these issues unique to Netflix’s production needs and we commend SAG-AFTRA leadership for its creative approach.”

SAG-AFTRA also said that the new deal provides that minimum salary and turnaround provisions shall now be applicable to all Netflix programs regardless of whether they trigger the “high budget SVOD” thresholds — which the union described as “an important breakthrough for performers.”

SAG-AFTRA represents about 160,000 performers. Its current three-year master contract covering film and TV expires on June 30. The union has not yet scheduled negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The announcement came three days after Netflix announced it had undershot its subscriber forecasts for the second quarter of 2019 — posting its first net U.S. customer decline since 2011 while growth slowed considerably overseas.

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