Q. When can I vote on the TV/Theatrical contract?
A. Ballots were mailed to all eligible SAG members on May 19, 2009. Ballots must be mailed in the return envelope provided and received at the Everett, WA, post office box no later than 5:00 p.m. (PDT) June 9, 2009. Ballots received after this deadline, or at a location other than the post office box, will not be counted.
Q. I didn’t receive a ballot for the TV/Theatrical contract referendum. Who should I call?
A. SAG members may contact the Membership Services Department at 323-549-6458 or by email at email@example.com
Q. Is this a good deal?
A. Yes. This deal reflects 3 percent in wage increases upon ratification and another 3.5 percent in wage increases one year following ratification. It also includes a .5 percent increase in pension contributions upon ratification. Perhaps more importantly, for the first-time, this deal codifies a residuals structure for new media. The deal also protects SAG members from rollbacks regarding meal penalties and force majeure, and creates a window for the next round of negotiations, now only two years away, that doesn’t force SAG to the back of the line.
This deal also is good in light of the fact that, over the past year, the economy worsened, production wound down and actors worked under an expired contract, representing tens of millions in losses.
Q. Aren’t some of our members opposed to the deal?
A. Some are, yes. It’s a reality of negotiation that the best deals will always leave both sides a little unsatisfied. And while high-minded philosophical debates and speculation about future revenues in new media are indeed appropriate and relevant, they don’t address the immediate needs of working families, which this offer from management does.
Q. Tell me more about the new media portion of the deal.
A. For the first time, this deal codifies a residuals structure for film and TV product used in new media. It also ensures jurisdiction on all derivative, made-for new media productions. And it ensures jurisdiction on all high-budget, original, made-for new media productions and all low budget, original new media production employing at least one covered performer.
Actors will receive residuals for exhibition of TV and Theatrical motion pictures on consumer pay platforms (electronic sell through) at a greater percentage than those paid for DVD distribution. Residuals also will apply to ad-supported streaming of feature films and television programs. In addition, residuals will be paid for derivative new media programs when streamed and reused on consumer pay platforms.
These new media terms reflect the current realities of emerging new media business models, which SAG will monitor over the next two years, prior to the next TV/Theatrical negotiations.
Q. What kinds of gains are there for actors working in television?
A. Actors will see increased residuals when TV shows re-run in network primetime and increased compensation for guest star performers, among other gains.
Q. Are there any improvements in the contract for background actors?
A. Yes, there will be an additional five covered background actors in feature films in Hollywood during the contract term. It will go from 50 to 53 covered background positions upon ratification of the contract, then from 53 to 55 covered background positions in year 2. The contract adds one covered background position in TV in Hollywood, from 19 to 20, upon ratification.
Q. What about gains for stunt coordinators?
A. For the first time, stunt coordinators employed on television motion pictures will participate in revenue-based residuals.
Q. Do dancers get any bumps under this contract?
A. Yes, they’ll see an increase in hazard pay.
Q. Previously, the idea that some of our contractual protections might be “rolled back” was discussed. Is that still the case?
A. The AMPTP backed off of a number of unreasonable demands, which would have included the removal of all force majeure protections (from so-called “acts of God,” with strikes by other unions included within the scope) and the establishment of French hours on film sets that would eliminate traditional meal breaks. Despite some modifications, both force majeure and meal breaks (and penalties for skipping them) are protected under the agreement.
Q. Will SAG again be the last entertainment union to bargain with the industry next time around?
A. The AMPTP had previously proposed an expiration date of 2012, taking away the leverage of coterminous contracts with our sister unions. SAG said NO and refused to accept this anti-union proposal. Finally, after countless hours in back-channel discussions with industry leaders and CEOs, SAG successfully fought off this rollback.
Instead of Screen Actors Guild being at the end of the line for negotiations, we will have a chance to be at the front.
Q. Where can I read the details of the new agreement?
A. You can read a thorough summary of the contracts and ballot package information at www.sag.org/contractcenter. If you would like to speak to someone about particular aspects of the contracts, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call the SAG National TV/Theatrical Hotline at 323-549-6665.