SAG-AFTRA announced on Monday evening that it has reached a tentative agreement with the major studios on actor exclusivity periods, an issue that has become a top priority for the union in recent years.
The issue affects actors on TV series, who can find themselves barred from working on other projects for many months or even years between TV seasons. The union has said that the issue has grown acute in the streaming era, with seasons getting shorter and with longer delays between seasons.
The union backed a bill, AB 437, in the California legislature, which aims to eliminate exclusivity periods from actors’ contracts. The Motion Picture Association opposed the bill, saying it would create a scheduling nightmare and make it much more difficult to produce multiple seasons of a show.
Despite that opposition, the bill cleared a key hurdle in the Senate Appropriations Committee last week, and appeared to be headed toward passage. That seems to have given SAG-AFTRA greater leverage to strike a deal on the issue with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios in collective bargaining.
The bill allows an exception for exclusivity provisions negotiated at the bargaining table — meaning that even if it becomes law, the agreement between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA would control. The MPA — which handles government relations for the studios — had argued that the bill was an improper and illegal intrusion into the collective bargaining process.
Now that the two sides have reached an agreement, it’s possible the bill could be abandoned.
SAG-AFTRA did not disclose the terms of the tentative agreement, which is scheduled to go before the union’s national board on Saturday. The union said the terms would not be released before the board has had a chance to review them.
SAG-AFTRA has said that the studios have previously refused to budge on the issue, prompting the union to take the matter to Sacramento. An agreement between the union and the AMPTP will presumably cover agreements nationwide, not just in California.