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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.

ACA Subsidies Case Heard

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear King v. Burwell, a case involving a challenge to the IRS’s interpretation of insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The issue is whether subsidies are available to those in states that have not created an insurance exchange. The IRS took the position that subsidies are available through either state or federal exchanges. If the Supreme Court strikes down the IRS’s interpretation, arguably, individuals and employers in states without an exchange will not be subject to the ACA’s mandate. However, employers and individuals in states that have an exchange (like CA and NY) will still be subject to the ACA’s mandate.

The fact that the Supreme Court decided to hear the King case came as a surprise as it generally does not do so unless the Courts of Appeals have issued conflicting decisions. The D.C. Circuit has agreed to re-hear a case raising the same question, so there is not currently a clear split. The case will be heard before the end of the Supreme Court’s term in June 2015. The effect of its decision on the ACA will not be clear until the Court has made its ruling.

Below is a depiction of some of the states that have made their own exchanges. More information about the ACA can be found on Media Service’s website.

Map of U.S. Exchanges ACA

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