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SAG-AFTRA Board Approves New Three-Year Deal with Producers

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The SAG-AFTRA national board of directors met by videoconference yesterday and approved the tentative three-year agreement reached earlier this month with the AMPTP. With the board’s approval, the deal covering film, TV and new media production now goes to the performers guild membership for ratification.

Though not quite a slam dunk, the 67.61% to 32.39% SAG-AFTRA board vote constitutes a “super majority,” avoiding the requisite inclusion of a minority report in the recommendation to ratify – though one will still be included, the guild said.

Increased SAG-AFTRA scale wages and residuals

The tentative deal includes a 2.5% wage increase in the first year, and 3% increase in the second and third years of the agreement, according to SAG-AFTRA. Those increases will be subject to retroactive payments back to July 1 if the membership ratifies the agreement, and are in keeping with entertainment payroll increases secured by other above the line guilds.

Additional wins for guild members touted by SAG-AFTRA include a 26% increase in residuals for fixed streaming residuals over the first three years of availability for high-budget programs on subscription platforms, along with a sizable increase in health plan funding over the course of the agreement with the AMPTP, increased performer protections for nudity and simulated sex scenes, and a move from fixed to revenue-based residuals on syndication deals.

The guild also negotiated for improved formulas for foreign streaming residuals in year two of the agreement, as well as a more lucrative overtime calculation for weekly Schedule H-II stunt performers on episodic TV series, one additional covered background position for West Coast episodic production, and increases to money and schedule breaks.

“We achieved unprecedented increases in residuals in the fastest-growing category, we secured ground-breaking protections for members in the areas of nudity, simulated sex and sexual harassment, and we strengthened our benefit plans,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White.

Historic protections for SAG-AFTRA performers in scenes of nudity and simulated sex

According to SAG-AFTRA, the new protections for its guild performers (both principal and background for most) include clarity on the authorized use of digital doubles and digitization, stricter safeguards at auditions and interviews; a 48-hour review period for riders; better “closed set” definitions, prohibitions on digital device recordings and access to a “cover up, such as a bathrobe.”

Residuals formula update on syndicated TV product

For the new residuals formula on syndicated programs, SAG-AFTRA clarified that any product on an existing license will continue to pay residuals under the current fixed residual formula through both the duration of the license and any extensions, while for new licenses, the fixed residual will be replaced with a revenue-based residuals model.

The guild said the tentative deal also eliminates the advance payment of residuals for future syndication for performer contracts entered into on or after July 1, 2020… a significant financial protection for performers.

SAG-AFTRA ratification vote next

The ratification vote will be conducted online per an earlier board resolution, though paper ballots are available to eligible SAG-AFTRA voting members on request. The deadline for voting is July 22 at 5pm PT.

If ratified by the guild membership, the new SAG-AFTRA contract will be effective retroactively from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2023.

Need SAG-AFTRA scale rates? Visit our FREE Showbiz Labor Guide.

IATSE Reaches New 3-Year Deal with AMPTP

AMPTP_LogoA negotiating unit for below-the-line crew members reached agreement with the AMPTP on a tentative new three-year deal covering film and television production in Los Angeles, it was announced today. Neither IATSE nor the studios are releasing terms of the new Hollywood Basic Agreement as of yet.

If approved by the union membership, the pact will go into effect August 1, 2015, just after the current agreement expires. Early resolution of contract talks can give local production a shot in the arm, as producers and financiers avoid the worry of any work stoppage in the near future.

“I am pleased we were able to reach an agreement that provides industry stability and meaningful terms and benefits to the membership,” said IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb.

“The industry is pleased we have reached a new agreement with IATSE months before the contract expires,” stated AMPTP President Carol Lombardini. “With the tentative agreement in place, our member companies can immediately begin planning production for the future with certainty.”

The negotiated deal will next be sent to the IATSE national board for approval. If it passes there, the next step would be member ratification vote.

WGA Reaches Tentative 3-Year Deal with Producers

The Writers Guild of America has struck a new tentative deal with the Association of Motion Picture & Television Producers, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The three-year agreement, which would go into effect May 2, is to include a 3 percent wage increase each year, with an optional 0.5 percent diversion to pension and health contributions – exercised in the first year, for a net wage increase of 2.5 percent. Residuals bases will be increased, Basic Cable wage increases will be higher in the second season of a show, and streaming new media residuals will go up.

There is also an increase in the script publication fee from $5,000 to $10,000 and a reduction of hold periods shows can place on staff writers who are not currently working.

See the full details in the Hollywood Reporter article here.

 

Julia Nicholson in as CEO of Industry Pension & Health Plan

The Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans appointed a new CEO, Julia Nicholson, to helm the plan that provides benefits to over 120,000 members of the entertainment industry and their families. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Nicholson was previously VP of Operations for UFCW & Employers Trust, which similarly administers large health and pension plans. With MPI being the biggest benefit plan in the entertainment industry, that background should come in handy in the new post.

“Julia is a seasoned executive in the employee benefits field, with particular expertise in (union benefit) plans,” MPI board co-chair Michael Rosenfeld was quoted as saying in the Reporter. “Julia’s success running multi-billion-dollar pension and health funds make her an ideal executive to lead MPI as we continue to provide benefits to tens of thousands of professionals in the motion picture and television industry.”

DGA Talks with Film/TV Producers Set for November 4

The DGA and AMPTP will enter into formal talks for a new collective bargaining agreement on November 4, 2013. According to a joint statement, the negotiations will be held at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, CA under a press blackout. The DGA – which represents directors, assistant directors, UPM’s and technical coordinators – has often reached agreement with the studios in relatively short order once talks have started. Of the three major Hollywood above-the-line talent guilds, the one that negotiates first in a given contract cycle has historically set the unofficial “template” for agreements with the other two. In the latest round of talks three years ago, when the DGA again negotiated first, that template included 2% wage increases and language addressing new media programming and playback.

The WGA has the first agreement to expire, in May 2014, while the DGA and SAG-AFTRA contracts don’t expire until the end of June. Once an agreement has been agreed to by both sides, it will go to the DGA’s national board for review, and if approved will be sent to membership for a ratification referendum.

SAG-AFTRA Extends Corporate / Non-Broadcast Agreement into 2015

SAG-AFTRASAG-AFTRA has signed off on a one-year extension of two of its pre-merger contracts for corporate, non-broadcast and educational work, the union announced earlier this week. The National Board of Directors ratified the agreement between the union and the Producers Group on October 1 at its meeting in Los Angeles.

The legacy AFTRA and SAG Corporate/Educational and Non-Broadcast Contracts, which were jointly negotiated in April 2011, were set to expire on April 30, 2014. But with negotiations for the TV/Theatrical contract on the horizon, the now-merged union wanted more time to prepare for the talks and allow for more weigh-in from the membership rank and file.

The Corporate/Educational and Non-Broadcast Contracts cover public relations, sales promotion and training films made for initial use to the general public, schools, conventions, seminars, museums, in retail stores and for Internet use. With the extension, the contracts will remain in place as-is through April 2015.

SAG-AFTRA’s Assistant National Executive Director, Contracts Ray Rodriguez said the extra time will give the union the chance to give this contract the full attention it deserves.

“We are hoping to bring a renewed focus to bear on bringing more work under this agreement,” said Rodriguez.

Lee Gluckman Jr., Producers Group President and Chief Negotiator, also had positive things to say.

“We are pleased to be able to maintain stability in the industry and think it will be productive to delay these negotiations a year and allow the parties time to prepare,” said Gluckman.

IATSE Local 767 Merged into Local 80

IATSE Local 767 First Aid, which covers nurses on set, has been merged into Local 80. The order from Matt Loeb, international president of IATSE, was made effective as of August 26, 2013. All local conditions of the current collective bargaining agreements remain in effect through their expiration July 31, 2015.

From this point forward, any local union office issues concerning covered first aid workers should be addressed to Local 80.

Visual Effects Society to Sacramento: More Incentives, Please

green squareIn an open letter to its membership, but also addressing the State of California and the industry at large, the Visual Effects Society has issued two calls to action. The first is a plea to Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature for an immediate expansion of the California film tax incentive program, including a “focused approach” to specifically protect the visual effects and post production sectors. The second is the organization of a VFX Congress to be held sometime in the next few weeks, “to allow all artists from around the world to share their concerns to find common ground on the issues that face us today.”

The letter was triggered in part by recent events including the bankruptcy of Rhythm & Hues (even as its VFX supervisors picked up an Oscar for visual effects on Life of Pi), the September bankruptcy and later buyout of Digital Domain, and the recent layoff of 350 staffers at Dreamworks (the first in the studio’s history). The plight of visual effects houses in the U.S. has been much on the minds of industry denizens of late, with a high-profile protest outside Sunday’s Academy Awards in Hollywood and a coordinated social media campaign in which individuals replace their profile pics with green screen.

While some are calling for an end to foreign subsidies that lure visual effects work to other locales, the VES acknowledges that it has no control over outside programs, and can only seek to strengthen California’s film tax credit program (which it calls “woefully inadequate”) from within:

The amazing irony is that while 47 of the top 50 films of all time* are visual effects driven and billions of dollars of profits are generated yearly, the actual people who create the work are becoming an endangered species in California. In short, Hollywood, the birthplace of all this art and commerce, is quickly becoming the land where creative dreams die on the vine and pink slips for dispossessed artists are being issued at an alarming rate.

In addition to urging members to write to the governor and state legislature regarding the situation, VES Executive Director Eric Roth sounded a note of hope for the coming VFX Congress: “Together we can make amazing things happen.”

See the full text of the letter here.

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