SAG-AFTRA Members Vote to Approve 2017 TV/Theatrical Contracts
In national voting completed today, members of SAG-AFTRA voted overwhelmingly to approve the 2017 TV/Theatrical Contracts. Members approved new, three-year contracts covering theatrical, primetime, and basic cable television production under the 2017 SAG-AFTRA Codified Basic Agreement and the 2017 SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement by a vote of 75.79 percent to 24.21 percent.
At $256 million, the agreement is valued at nearly 30 percent more than the $200 million 2014 TV/Theatrical deal, and the union secured significant improvements in the residuals rate paid to performers for exhibition of their performances on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon.
SAG-AFTRA President and Negotiating Committee Chair Gabrielle Carteris said, “With these new provisions, members will be compensated for global use of their work on streaming new media platforms - such as Netflix and Amazon - in addition to seeing significant gains in streaming media residuals. These gains speak not just to today, but to our future by establishing important new guidelines on travel and options as well as providing meaningful gains for the background community. I thank the many members who had input throughout this process. The gains in this contract reflect their hard work and their voices in negotiations. I am also very grateful to my fellow negotiating committee members, to National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White and to the dedicated SAG-AFTRA staff who worked to ensure our new contract builds for the next generation of television and theatrical production.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White said, “I thank the members for their participation in the process and commend their vote to approve the agreement. This new contract sets an important standard for our members today and tomorrow. For more than two years, our member negotiating committee and staff team worked tirelessly to develop necessary proposals that would secure members’ financial improvements while updating archaic and unclear portions of the agreement. With that package in hand, we bargained significant gains for members across the board in addition to outsized enhancements for background actors and television series performers. We also secured crucial improvements in streaming media residuals paid to our members working in programs made for streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon. I am grateful to the member negotiating committee and the exemplary staff team headed by Chief Contracts Officer and Lead Negotiator Ray Rodriguez for their dedication and hard work.”
Other key gains include:
- A guaranteed raise of 2.5 - 3 percent for each year of the contracts and increased pension and retirement contributions.
- Residuals improvements of more than 300 percent for content streaming on new media like Netflix and Amazon. Residuals are due sooner, down to 90 days from one year. Plus, there’s a new foreign residual for when work is shown on affiliated platforms abroad.
- Double overtime for background actors: The 11th and 12th hours of the day will be paid at double time instead of time and a half for West Coast work.
- Additional increases for background performers include a boost to the photo double rate — an upfront increase of nearly 17 percent — and a large upfront increase — 18 percent — for programs made for The CW, as well as a new, standard voucher to protect against identity theft.
- Improved provisions for travel for TV performers, including setting minimums that significantly increase relocation allowances.
- Guaranteed airfare to performers traveling for work taking place in Los Angeles.
- A reduction of the number of “idle days” that may be negotiated from three to two and increase of pay for those idle days from $75 to $100.
- Safe travel commitment from management to provide either transportation or lodging for performers who do not believe they can drive themselves safely due to exhaustion or inclement weather.
Informational voting cards were mailed to approximately 140,000 members of SAG-AFTRA, of which 15.33 percent voted. The final vote was certified by Integrity Voting Systems, an impartial election service based in Everett, Washington.
The agreement becomes effective retroactive to July 1, 2017 and expires June 30, 2020.
Formal negotiations between the 26-member SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Committee and the AMPTP began on Wednesday, May 31, in Los Angeles and concluded at 6 a.m. on July 4, 2017. The SAG-AFTRA National Board overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement at its July 15 meeting.
Minimums improved by 2.5 percent retroactive to July 1, 2017. In the second and third years of the deal, the increases will be 3 percent unless the SAG-AFTRA National Board elects to divert a half percent of the wage increase into a benefit fund contribution rate increase, in which case the wage increase will be 2.5 percent. Flat deal stunt coordinators working in television under Schedule K-III will receive a 7.5-percent increase instead of a 2.5-percent increase retroactive to July 1, 2017, and will receive the general increase thereafter.
The rate of contribution to the SAG Pension and AFTRA Retirement funds will increase by a half percent retroactive to July 1, 2017. The SAG-AFTRA National Board may elect to increase those contribution rates by a further half percent in each of the second and third years of the deal, in which case the wage rate increases for those years will decrease from 3 percent to 2.5 percent.
Yes, we made significant improvements to the residuals applicable to High Budget Subscription Video on Demand (HBSVOD) programs. As a reminder, we cover employment on these programs on the same basis as traditional television, including on-camera and voiceover work. The improvements we negotiated will deliver, for example, a 300-percent increase in residuals to performers within the first two years of worldwide exhibition of their performances on Netflix programs, as follows:
- Additional First-Year Residual Payment: HBSVOD residuals are now due 90 days after initial availability of the program instead of one year later (except for programs made for a platform with fewer than 1 million subscribers). This means residuals are due sooner. It also means two residual payments instead of one in the first 15 months after initial availability of the program.
- New Foreign Residual: We have added a foreign residual for availability on any related or affiliated foreign platform, so availability on Netflix in the UK, for example, will now trigger an additional payment.
- Higher Ceilings: HBSVOD residuals are calculated based on a performer’s actual compensation on the episode up to a ceiling. Those ceilings increased across the board by 5 percent, which translates directly into higher residuals for many performers.
- Even Higher Ceilings: In addition to the across-the-board ceiling increases, we negotiated special outsized increases of 16.5 percent to the ceiling for 90-minute programs and 18.7 percent for feature-length programs. These increases will translate directly into higher residuals for many performers working on these programs.
- Subscriber Factor: A “subscriber factor” has been added to the formula, which means higher residuals for programs on the largest of these platforms, namely Netflix.
Yes, there were several other improvements relevant to work in new media:
- First, the residual due for free streaming (i.e., advertiser-supported video on demand on platforms like abc.com, cbs.com and nbc.com) also improved. This is the residual due, for example, when a network exhibits a television show on its website for the first year after the seven or 17-day initial exhibition window has expired. Effective July 1, 2018, this residual will go from 5.5 percent of total applicable minimum for a 26-week period of availability to 6 percent of total applicable minimum.
- Second, the streaming residual due for a derivate made-for-new-media program (e.g., The Walking Dead Webisodes) will increase from $20 to $22 for a program 10 minutes or less and from $25 to $27 for a program longer than 10 minutes.
- Third, we improved the enforceability of our contract in new media by securing an agreement from producers to provide SAG-AFTRA with certain information, including number of episodes per season, budget, location, timing and contact information automatically for each new media series and to update the information upon request.
The travel rules have been a heavily disputed area, particularly as applied to television. We achieved clarity in the area of television with some of the clarified rules reflecting current producer practice and others reflecting significant improvements. All the changes are applicable to television only.
- Series regulars bargaining “relocation fees” will find minimums stated for those fees for the first time ever. The new minimums are significantly higher than what series performers have been bargaining for themselves:
- $10,000 per year for each of the first four seasons of a series or term performer’s engagement on a series with an order of fewer than 13 episodes.
- $10,000 per year for each of the first two season of a series or term performer’s engagement on a series with an order of 13 or more episodes.
- The new rules promote consistent, national enforcement in the area of travel by removing distinctions between performers engaged in California and performers engaged outside of California, addressing a longstanding historical inequity.
- Lodging at Producer’s Base (other than for series or term performers subject to a relocation allowance), which had not previously been required by the contract, is now mandatory. Producer’s Base will mean the geographic area where the majority of principal photography occurs for a season of a television series.
- Airfare and related ground transportation to and from Los Angeles must now be provided for performers traveling for work taking place in Los Angeles.
- Previously, when traveling performers, Producers could negotiate for up to three “idle days” paid at $75 each before performers’ contractual salary commenced and could use one of them as a travel day for performers engaged outside of California. Now, there are only two such “idle days” available, they must be paid at $100 each and they cannot be used for days spent traveling.
No, we did not give away “portal to portal,” which remains the rule for performers working on an overnight location. The deal we made reflects current practice in the applicability of “portal to portal.” Portal to portal has never been due for performers working at Producer’s Base. Moreover, the application of the travel rules to episodic television is rife with ambiguity and inconsistent practice, which has made enforcement problematic and undermined the value of any of these rules to our members.
- As a reminder, the changes we negotiated in travel do not apply to theatrical motion pictures.
- A performer workday can either be calculated “set to set,” which means beginning with the performer’s arrival on set and ending with their dismissal from the set, or “portal to portal,” which means beginning with pick up at the hotel and ending with drop off at the hotel.
- Performer workdays on “overnight location” have been calculated portal to portal, while workdays at “Producer’s Base” have been calculated set-to-set. The tentative agreement does not reflect any change in this regard.
- The problem is that the collective bargaining agreement did not define “Producer’s Base.” As television productions dispersed throughout the country, the parties disputed whether producers could treat the new locations where they were now producing episodic television as their “Producer’s Base.”
- Over the years, producers located production offices to take advantage of tax credits in the markets where they were producing episodic television and maintained a continuing presence in those markets. Because “Producer’s Base” was not defined in the collective bargaining agreement, it became clear that any challenges to producers’ claim that they had established a “Producer’s Base” in those markets were unlikely to succeed.
- Accordingly, while the tentative agreement provides that the location where the majority of principal photography for a television series takes place can be “Producer’s Base,” this merely acknowledges the reality that already exists. It does not reflect the introduction of a new term.
- As part of a deal that included this acknowledgement, we were able to achieve improvements in multiple areas as reflected above. Even more importantly, we now have clearly defined travel rules and agreements with the industry about what these rules mean. In other words, we now have enforceable travel rules in television for the first time. This is itself an enormous victory.
We obtained a commitment from management that they will provide either transportation or lodging to performers who do not believe they can drive themselves safely due to exhaustion or inclement weather. A bulletin will be circulated to all producers to confirm this commitment. Additionally, the union will be holding meetings with the executives in charge of safety at the various studios to reinforce the importance of this issue.
SAG-AFTRA focused in this cycle on establishing clarity around options. Presently, series performers held to exclusivity obligations can find the duration of their exclusivity extended for as long as two years by lengthy option periods and uncompensated option extensions.
Now, for television performers earning less than $32,000 per episode, a producer must exercise an option within one year of the last day of principal photography of the season and may only extend that option twice for up to six months per extension by paying the performer’s prior season negotiated episodic fee for each such extension.
These extensions were previously uncompensated because producers recouped the extension fees from subsequent compensation due to the performer. Now, the extension fee is not recoupable and must be paid in addition to all other compensation due to performer.
- Stunt coordinators working under a Schedule K-III flat deal contract in television will receive an outsized increase of 7.5 percent retroactive to July 1, 2017, in lieu of the 2.5-percent general increase. They will receive the general increase in the second and third years of the deal.
- In addition, stunt performers and coordinators will benefit from the general increases, increases to benefit fund contribution rates, improvement to HBSVOD and other new media residuals, clarified and enforceable travel rules in television, schedule and money break improvements and other items negotiated in this deal.
- Stunt coordinators will now be required to complete three online safety courses within the next three years and a single, centralized sexual harassment prevention training will now be required instead of the company-by-company training that presently exists.
Only two elements of this deal are specific to the “high-earning” category of series television performers: Establishing minimums for relocation fees and a deadline for the exercise of a series option. We should be proud to have addressed these pain points for our series regulars, whose earnings help to sustain our benefit plans and whose leverage helps us to achieve other gains for less recognizable segments of our membership.
The remainder of the deal reflects gains that should win the support of all performers, including:
- Historic improvements in the residuals for HBSVOD programs.
- Clarified, enforceable travel rules for performers working in television.
- Historic breakthrough in equalizing terms for background actors working on the West Coast under Schedule X-I and background actors working on the East Coast under Schedule X-II in the form of overtime improvements for West Coast background actors.
- Improvements to minimums, residuals, benefit fund contribution rates, schedule and money breaks.
Yes, there are a number of changes specifically affecting background actors.
The following changes are applicable to background actors working on both the West Coast under Schedule X-I and the East Coast under Schedule X-II:
- The photo double rate will improve to equal the stand-in rate, which means an upfront increase of nearly 17 percent.
- On programs made for the CW, the terms of Schedules X-I and X-II will now apply instead of the Network Code terms for background, which means an 18-percent upfront increase, along with applicable zones and caps.
- A standard voucher was created for both background schedules that will allow background actors to use their SAG-AFTRA ID number where a Social Security number is not otherwise required by production or the background casting company.
The following changes are applicable only to background actors working on the West Coast under Schedule X-I:
- The overtime provisions from Schedule X-II will now apply to Schedule X-I, meaning that the 11th and 12th hours of the day are paid at double time instead of time and a half.
- Reporting rules have changed through the creation of a secondary studio zone that extends 10 miles beyond the existing 30-mile zone and a new reporting provision that allows producer to designate a point within the studio zone and require reporting without mileage within a 10-mile radius of that point. Please consult the summary for further details.
Applicable to background actors under Schedule X-II: Night premium was retained despite a serious attempt by producers to remove it.
- Producers wanted to you to work longer workdays and shorter weekends and therefore made the below proposals, NONE of which were achieved because your negotiating committee held strong:
- Reduce daily turnaround from 12 to 11 hours and from 11 to 10 hours on overnight locations.
- Expand ability to reduce daily turnaround to as little as 10 hours when exterior photography is involved.
- Delay commencement of your turnaround for time spent removing hairdress and makeup.
- Reduce weekly turnaround from 36 hours to 30 hours.
- Producers wanted more unpaid hold time during which you would have to hold yourself available for production without pay and therefore made the below proposals, NONE of which were achieved because your negotiating committee held strong:
- Codify practice of “pinning” by requiring you to hold as many as 10 days available for as little as one day of work when you receive an “on or about” start date.
- Cap your payment for intervening days and add an additional drop/pick-up for certain features.
- Require you to report for preproduction recordings and stills for as little as one hour of pay.
- Producers wanted the right to bargain at the time of employment rather than at time of use for the ability to reuse photography and soundtrack in traditional media.
- Such reuse would have become a condition of employment, effectively eliminating the producer’s obligation to bargain for reuse.
- This was NOT achieved because your negotiating committee held strong.
- Producers wanted to achieve lesser terms for low budget basic cable that would have reduced your pay and residuals. This was NOT achieved because your negotiating committee held strong.
- Producers wanted to eliminate night premium for background actors working under Schedule X-I. This was NOT achieved because your negotiating committee held strong.
If you have additional questions, please email TVTheatricalContracts2017@sagaftra.org or call (800) 518-6623.
The wage gains achieved exceed projected inflation. The Federal Reserve Survey of Professional Forecasters predicts inflation of 1.9% for 2017 and 2.0% for 2018. That’s compared to a 2017 minimum wage increase of 2.5% and 2018 and 2019 increases of either 2.5% or 3%. Longer term inflation projections are less reliable but do not exceed 2.5%.
The union did not pursue improvements in the area of basic cable residuals because your negotiating committee and National Board both agreed that it was strategically wiser to focus our efforts on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. These platforms are where the growth in television production is overwhelmingly taking place and we achieved historic gains in this area. To paraphrase Wayne Gretsky, the union decided it was better to skate to where the puck is going rather than to where it has been.
“Diginets” are networks comprised of secondary broadcast signals. AntennaTV and Cozi TV are examples. Diginets generally have low viewership numbers and are unable to sell national advertising. Their revenue therefore does not allow them to pay high license fees.
Prior to 2014, diginets were largely unable to license content that carries residual obligations because the fixed, per run residuals that applied would cost more than what the diginet could afford to pay as a license fee. As a result, many series that diginets were interested in licensing nevertheless sat on a shelf and did not generate any residuals at all. In 2015, the first year after we agreed to allow a residual based on a percentage of the license fee for exhibition on diginets, 240 series were licensed to diginets, generating residuals for cast members on many shows that had not produced residual income in years.
In this negotiation, we agreed to remove the holdback periods that previously required a series to be out of production for three years before the percentage-of-license fee residual would be available for exhibition on a diginet. While it can be argued that this speeds up the ability of a producer to utilize a residual formula that can be less advantageous, the real impact of making this change is that residuals will be generated more quickly for members on shows that would not otherwise produce any residual income at all.
SAG-AFTRA’s Office of Media and Labor Economics exhaustively prepares and acquires data and analyses to inform our negotiations. We are privileged to have access to some of the best researchers in our Industry. They enable us to corroborate or debunk information that is presented to us by management and to make decisions based on information we have generated independently.
Yes. This deal adds a minimum of .5% to the contribution rate to the pension plan and retirement fund with the possibility, should the National Board so elect, to add another 1%. This would be an historic increase that has only been rivaled once in recent negotiations.
The Los Angeles Secondary Studio Zone reflects the same reporting provisions applicable to crew and contains protections such as a 24-hour notice requirement and a requirement that Producers offer courtesy housing to anyone working more than 12 hours at a secondary studio zone location. It has become necessary because the urbanization of Los Angeles has reduced the variety of shooting locations available for production, potentially making Los Angeles less attractive as a production location. It was also part of the give-and-take of bargaining that enabled us to achieve important gains in other areas.
Producers presently have the right to reuse clips into trailers promoting either an episode of a series or the series itself for six weeks without bargaining or payment. We agreed to remove the six week limitation.
In practice, this limitation protected relatively few performers. For use beyond six weeks, there is no requirement to bargain with or pay series performers and producers may freely bargain with performers earning $3,250 or more per week. And frequently, if there is a requirement to bargain with a particular performer, they are simply edited out of the trailer.
No, the AMPTP has refused to formally acknowledge that performance and/or motion capture work is covered under our agreements even though individual studios nearly always employ performers under union contracts to do this work. We are conducting an educational session with employer representatives during the term of this contract to continue to inform our employers regarding the reasons why this work should be covered. This remains an important outstanding issue for the union.
It takes at least several weeks, and often longer, to draft and agree upon the language of a memorandum of agreement, which will then be “codified” by adding the agreed-upon provisions into the contract books themselves along with all the conforming changes made necessary by the addition of new language. The entire process can be very time consuming, depending on how easily the parties are able to agree upon the new language and required changes, and it is worth taking the time to make sure that the language correctly reflects everything we bargained for. That is why nearly every ratification vote that we conduct is done on the basis of a summary.
No. Los Angeles and New York actors are still considered “local hires” and all transportation and, where applicable, travel time will continue to be provided as in previous contracts.
Los Angeles – Sunday, July 16, 2-4 p.m.
Pickwick Gardens Conference Center
1001 W. Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91506
New York – Monday, July 17, 6-8 p.m.
Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan
Times Square Ballroom
New York, NY 10019
Atlanta – Tuesday, July 18, 3-5 p.m.
IATSE Local 479
4220 International Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30354
Miami – Wednesday, July 19, 6-8 p.m.
2905 Sheridan Street
Hollywood, FL 33020
(954) 925-9100 Click here for directions.
New England – Thursday, July 20, 6-8 p.m.
Boston Park Plaza
50 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116
Washington-Mid Atlantic – Friday, July 21, 2-4 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn Bethesda
7301 Waverly Street
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Hawaii – July 24, 2017, 9-11 a.m.
Musician’s Board Room
949 Kapiolani Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96814
Missouri Valley – Monday, July 24, 2-4 p.m.
SAG-AFTRA Missouri Valley
911 Washington Ave., Suite 207
St. Louis, MO 63101
Nashville – Monday, July 24, 2-4 p.m.
SAG-AFTRA Nashville Office
1108 17th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37212
Ohio – Pittsburgh – Monday, July 24, 3-5 p.m.
SAG-AFTRA Ohio-Pittsburgh Local Office
625 Stanwix St., Ste. 2007
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Philadelphia – Monday, July 24, 3-5 p.m.
SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia office
230 S. Broad Street, Suite 500
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Seattle – Monday, July 24, Noon-2 p.m.
Seattle Local Office
123 Boylston Ave, Suite A
Seattle, WA 98102
2017 TV/Theatrical Contracts Information Webinar – Monday, July 24, noon-2 p.m. PT/1-3 p.m. MT/2-4 p.m. CT/3-5 p.m. ET
- Arizona – Utah
- New Mexico
- New Orleans
- San Diego
- Twin Cities
Chicago – Wednesday, July 26, 6-8 p.m.
1 E. Erie
Chicago, IL 60611
San Francisco-Northern California – Sunday, July 30
The Bar Association of San Francisco
301 Battery Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
Please Note: All meeting information subject to change. Check sagaftra.org and watch your email for notices with information about meetings in your area.
All paid-up SAG-AFTRA members in good standing are urged to attend this important informational meeting. This meeting is only open to paid-up SAG-AFTRA members in good standing, no guests are allowed. Parents/guardians of performers under 18 years old are welcome. No RSVP necessary.
You must show your SAG-AFTRA membership card or digital card on the app (paid thru Oct. 31, 2017) for admittance.
If you are unable to attend and have questions regarding the tentative agreement, please email TVTheatricalContracts2017@sagaftra.org or call (800) 518-6623.