I attended the SAG-AFTRA National Board meeting, the Committee of Locals meeting and a meeting of the Executive Committee in Los Angeles on July 14 and 15. The biggest news from the meeting is that we reviewed, debated and voted on the tentative agreement reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on July Fourth. The board overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement 77.4 percent to 22.5 percent, and we recommend a vote of “yes” to ratify the contract. On Aug. 7, the membership voted to ratify the deal.
The agreement covers motion pictures, scripted primetime dramatic television and new media production. We secured significant improvements in the residuals rate paid to performers for exhibition of their performances on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. For example, under the new terms, actors will receive residuals earlier, 90 days instead of after a year. The new formula delivers a 300-percent (!) increase in residuals to performers within their first two years when their work is exhibited worldwide on Netflix.
Background actors achieved many gains as well, including superior overtime rules, a higher minimum for photo doubles, a pay increase for work on shows for the CW as a result of applying the background schedules from the television contract, and a new standard voucher form that will minimize the need for background actors to supply Social Security numbers.
SAG-AFTRA also achieved a historic breakthrough in the rules governing travel for television performers, including an up to fivefold increase in the fees due to series performers who work on locations away from home. The travel rules for television were also rationalized and clarified, closing many loopholes and ambiguities that have allowed for abuse.
The term of the new agreement is for three years effective July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2020.
SAG-AFTRA President and Negotiating Committee Chair Gabrielle Carteris said, “Together, we have achieved a comprehensive, modern agreement that lays the foundation for success for years to come. We established substantial compensation gains, especially in the expanding new media platforms and residuals."
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. The talks were preceded by Wages and Working Conditions meetings held this past spring.
The board also voted overwhelmingly to pass a resolution for the upcoming public television contract negotiations, which covers dramatic and documentary programming. Moreover, the Uptown Productions tentative live action agreement that was reached on May 3 was also approved. This contract includes huge gains in rates, residuals, and terms and conditions for background actors.
Tom Choi and Dawnn Lewis were appointed to the vacant seats on the SAG-Producers Pension Trustee board.
We received the following reports at the National Board meeting:
President Carteris reported on the union’s Telemundo contract negotiations and TV/Theatrical negotiations and shared the union’s official statement on the passing of stuntman John Bernecker.
National Executive Director’s Report
National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White delivered a summary overview of trends facing the union across its portfolio of contracts and its benefit plans. He reported on the successes of the Member Care Contact Center’s first year in operation and updated the board on residuals processing and its direct deposit pilot program.
Chief Financial Officer Arianna Ozzanto gave the financial report for the year ending April 30, 2017. Ozzanto reported a year-end surplus of over $14 million dollars due to expense management efforts and higher-than-expected revenue, mainly from dues and initiation fees.
Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez asked the board to authorize the executive committee to review and approve the Commercials Contract Regional Codes, which allows locals to enact certain waivers to the commercials contract for organizing purposes. His request was approved.
The 13-hour board meeting adjourned at 10:01 p.m. PT.
National Board Member