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The Biggest Changes in SAG-AFTRA’s New Three-Year Deal with Producers 

Original publish date: January 18, 2024

In a significant move for the entertainment industry, SAG-AFTRA’s members ratified a transformative three-year agreement with an impressive 78.33% majority. Notably, the vote saw a 38.15% turnout. Effective retroactively from November 9, 2023, through June 30, 2026, this new agreement sets the stage for pivotal changes and improvements that address many of the concerns felt by performers in recent times.

We’ve taken a moment to highlight some of the most notable changes, but you can also find a host of contract resources on SAG-AFTRA’s contracts page.

Actors preparing to act in a scene for a film, representing actors going back to work after the new SAG-AFTRA deal was ratified.

How does the agreement address wage increases? 

The Screen Actors Guild’s new three-year agreement brings substantial wage increases across various occupations. Starting on November 9, wages surge by 7%, followed by successive annual increments of 4% from July 1, 2024, and 3.5% from July 1, 2025, ensuring compounded growth.

Notably, background performers in specific roles garner an extra $150 per day, while theatrical feature productions witness nuanced changes allowing producers to negotiate prepaid looping days within deals for Schedule C hires earning $10k+ per week. These pivotal adjustments promise enhanced financial prospects and opportunities within the industry landscape. 

How does the agreement address per diem increases? 

Effective immediately, breakfast, lunch, and dinner rates undergo an upswing, escalating to $14 for breakfast, $21 for lunch, and $35 for dinner, totaling $70. However, the impact extends further with a second wave of increments slated for two years hence, pushing rates even higher to $16 for breakfast, $22 for lunch, and $37 for dinner, culminating in a total of $75. These adjustments promise a more reflective and supportive approach towards covering daily expenses, acknowledging the evolving needs of professionals in the field. 

How does the agreement address wardrobe increases and fittings? 

The deal makes substantial adjustments to wardrobe allowances, notably boosting the daily allocations for principal performers and background actors to $27, recognizing the evolving demands and costs of maintaining appropriate attire.

One noteworthy provision exempts daily hires earning over $1,500 from the customary extra hour and 15-minute increments typically allocated for fittings the day before production commences. This exemption reflects an acknowledgment of the time commitments and schedules of higher-earning professionals, streamlining processes while ensuring equitable considerations for wardrobe needs across varying roles and pay grades within the industry. 

How does the agreement address new holidays? 

MLK Day and Juneteenth are considered official holidays, effective January 1, 2024. This move highlights the union’s commitment to honoring moments of historical importance. Additionally, producers can now declare an unpaid production hiatus for the week encompassing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Crucially, these hiatuses maintain the integrity of established rules governing weekly hires and production spans, ensuring operational continuity while providing space for professionals to observe these significant cultural and celebratory occasions. 

How does the agreement address new job classifications, as with Performance Capture Actors

The new agreement introduces a comprehensive definition for “Performance Capture Actors,” delineating their roles in live-action, animated theatrical motion pictures, and television productions.

These performers, engaged for facial expressions and body movements directed by a director, fall under established schedule letters (A, B, C, F) unless exclusively engaged in stunts, dancing, or singing, covered by relevant schedules for such work.

Notably, if involved in both the above and traditional performances, they receive the higher of two scale rates, not both. Producers hiring Performance Capture Actors are exempt from consecutive workday rules, enabling unlimited drops and pick-ups for these hires. Moreover, there are no additional role payments for these actors, allowing them to play multiple roles in a single day.

However, employees hired solely as ‘reference models’ remain outside the coverage of this provision.   

How does the agreement address artificial Intelligence regarding Employee-Based Digital Replicas

Delving into the realm of artificial intelligence, the agreement specifically addresses the creation and utilization of Employee-Based Digital Replicas (EBDRs) in content production. Producers navigating these provisions should note that work involved in crafting an EBDR incurs an additional fee unless executed during a standard working day. Should this work fall on a non-traditional workday, performers are entitled to a pro-rata daily rate, not less than the scale for a Schedule A performer.

Work scheduled at the performer’s convenience on a separate day warrants compensation at half the pro-rata daily rate if under 4 hours, escalating to a full day’s pro-rata rate beyond four hours, again not less than the scale for a Schedule A performer.

Importantly, dedicated EBDR workdays do not trigger the commencement of consecutive employment.

Furthermore, if a production opts for EBDR usage instead of recalling a performer for additional shooting, additional compensation might be required, outlining the nuanced compensation structures within the evolving landscape of AI-driven content creation. 

While everyone is happy that this agreement was reached and that the industry is back to work, it is vital to understand what has changed in the realms of performance, artificial intelligence, and compensation. We encourage you to speak directly to a union expert to successfully navigate these changes. 

We’re here to help 

Questions? Reach out to us directly at [email protected]

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