Looks as if actors and actresses belonging to SAG-AFTRA will continue to talk and not walk as, according to Deadline, the union has reached a tentative agreement with AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers).
SAG-AFTRA’s current contract expired June 30 at midnight PT and had been extended each of the past three nights. If a deal hadn’t been reached, union leaders had vowed to ask their members for strike authorization.
It would have been the first actors’ strike against the film and TV industry since 1980, although the union is currently engaged in a 253-day strike against selected video game companies — the longest strike in SAG history.
Informal talks for the new pact began on May 15, but formal negotiations didn’t begin until May 31, which only gave negotiators a month to reach an agreement.
The agreement, which averts a looming strike, must now be approved by the union’s board of directors, and then ratified by the members. Both are expected to pass overwhelmingly. Once ratified, the new three-year deal would run through June 30, 2020.
Local SAG-AFTRA actress Ilyssa Fradin weighed in on the tentative agreement. “I heard how tough the WGA negotiations were. They took a strike authorization vote and I could only imagine the tensions. So when the WGA came to an agreement, I was also glad and relieved.”
When asked about the impact on the entire Chicago production community, Fradin answered, “It means our community, not just union performers, but crews and technicians, writers and directors can continue to work! I am anxious to hear about the terms. We’ll learn more in the informational meeting before we are given a chance to vote on the contract.”
According to sources, the new deal will generate an additional $256 million for performers over the next three years. Highlights of the tentative agreement include:
· Wage increases of 2.5% in the first year, 3% in the second year and 3% in the third year
· A one-half percent increase in the current rate of employer contributions paid to the SAG Pension Plan and AFTRA Retirement Fund in the first year of the agreement, raising the total contribution rate to 17.5% effective July 1, 2017
· An additional 0.2% increase in funding to the SAG-AFTRA industry cooperative funds, which will support monitoring animal safety on sets, safety training and sexual harassment prevention training
· Recognition of Middle Eastern North African as a diverse category in the casting data report
· Agreement to study the design and implementation of an electronic reporting system for performer work times
· Improved residuals for programming made for SVOD (subscription video-on-demand)
· First residual is now due in 90 days rather than one year
· Increase in the residual rate
· First ever residuals compensation for foreign use
· Improvements to money and schedule breaks
· Improvements to the advertiser-supported streaming residuals
· Outsized increase of 18% for background actors working under the CW supplement
· Terms requiring that all background actors be paid double-time starting after 10 hours of work
Actress and producer Mary Kay Cook saw the positives of the agreement from both sides of the table. “As a union actress, I am grateful to our leadership for making strides in wage and pension increases. As a producer, having the terms spelled out more clearly is helpful, especially in the case of the new media contracts. The technology and platforms are evolving so quickly and the union has historically been playing catch-up.”
She added, “It’s also important to note that there’s been an increase in funding to the industry cooperative funds, to support safety training and sexual harassment prevention training, which is a win-win all around. I look forward to swift approval by the National Board and ratification by the membership.”
Follow Colin Costello on Twitter @colincostello10.