SAG-AFTRA’s Los Angeles board has voted to oppose ratification of a successor deal on its master contract for feature films and primetime television work.
The move came Tuesday, two weeks after the national board of the performers union had approved sending out the contract for ratification by a vote of 67.6% to 32.4%. Ballots are due back by July 22.
Backers of ratification, led by president Gabrielle Carteris, have touted increases of $318 million over the three-year term of the contract, a 26% increase in fixed streaming residuals, gains in pension and held benefits and improvements in provisions for performers in nude and simulated sex scenes.
Opponents have said the new contract will “destroy” syndication the decades-old fixed residual formula with a three-year loss of $70 million and an eight-year loss of $170 million. They have also asserted that 1.5% of the proposed 2% pension and health increase will be deducted from the wage increase and that there’s no protection for background actors from the use of digital doubles.
The opponents are part of the Membership First faction, which has pushed for a more assertive stance at the bargaining table. Carteris is head of the ruling Unite for Strength faction, which pushes for pragmatism.
Those urging a “No” vote include national board members Ed Asner, Jennifer Beals, Neve Campbell, Frances Fisher, Diane Ladd, Matthew Modine, Esai Morales, Patricia Richardson, Rob Schneider and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Richardson, who serves as president of the Los Angeles board, announced the action in a Tweet.
Three years ago, SAG-AFTRA members ratified the current deal as the pact generated opposition from about one in every four members who voted. About 76% of members approved the deal with about 15% of the 144,000 eligible members voting — or about 22,000 in all.
Opponents, who have launched the dissentingopinion2020.com site, held a news conference Wednesday morning, to detail their objections with moderator moderator Sean Astin predicting that the members will vote down the ratification. Richardson said such a scenario would not guarantee a strike but lead to a better deal.
“The deal isn’t good enough,” Richardson added. “Voting for it will not get us back to work sooner.”
Fisher said the tentative deal’s provisions for performers in nude and simulated sex scenes do not go far enough and lack the requirement that producers use intimacy coordinators.
Unite for Strength and its United Screen Actors Nationwide issued a statement blasting the opposition on Wednesday:
“In a cynical move to advance their political ambitions rather than put the membership first as they claim they want to do, Membership First is actively trying to torpedo the richest deal in TV/Theatrical history during a global pandemic and collapsing economy. They’re holding $318 million in contract gains hostage to their own political ambitions. Who would do that?”
“The same people with a graveyard of contracts, who failed to negotiate a deal on this very contract in 2008,” the statement continued. “Because of David Jolliffe and his MF crew, SAG members worked for a year without a contract and lost hundreds of millions of dollars in ’08. Whenever Membership First has anything to do with a contract, SAG-AFTRA members lose. Membership First knows full well that a no vote will put all of these gains at risk and push us towards a disastrous strike. This isn’t about getting a better deal; it’s about wreaking havoc on our union.”
“The future of SAG-AFTRA is at stake. $318 million dollars for members is at stake. $54 million for our Plans is at stake. Massive gains in streaming residuals and sexual harassment protections for members is at stake. Enough is enough,” the statement concluded.