SAG-AFTRA’s Board Approves New Network TV Code Deal

The SAG-AFTRA board of directors has voted overwhelmingly to approve the new Network Television Code, the union’s contract covering nonprimetime TV shows. The new three-year pact, which generates more than $ 200 million a year in earnings, now goes to the guild’s members for final ratification.

The new agreement, which was tentatively struck on November 14, includes an 8.7% overall increase in “most program fees”: 2.5% the first year and 3% in each of the second and third years, compounded. That’s the same deal the union got earlier this year for its new film and TV contract, though it’s less than the 3% annual pay raises the DGA and the WGA got for their new film and television contracts.

Soap opera performers will be getting a smaller pay raise. Their wages will increase only 7.2% over three years: 2% the first year and 2.5% in each of the second and third years, compounded. News broadcasters will be getting an even smaller raise of 6.1% over three years: 2% in each of the three, compounded. The union said that these pay hikes are in keeping with “customary practice,” albeit one that barely keeps up with the cost of living.

Extras, however, will see a 36% increase in rehearsal rates, going up from $ 11 an hour to $ 15 an hour over two years. Still, it’s surprising that any union worker in Hollywood is making only $ 11 an hour.

The new pact also includes a 0.5% increase in contributions to the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds, starting in year one, “Language that helps facilitate the merging of the SAG and AFTRA benefit plans,” the union said.

David White, the guild’s National Executive Director, said he is “pleased with the important gains we’ve achieved in this negotiation, including significant increases for background actors, stand-ins, stunt coordinators and singers.”

The contract covers soap operas, morning news shows, talk shows, variety, reality, contest, sports, syndicated programs and promotional announcements. Current programs covered by the contract include Good Morning AmericaThe ViewThe Price Is RightThe Young And The RestlessSaturday Night LiveDancing With The StarsThe Voice, The Amazing RaceNightline, Late Night With David Letterman and many others.

Here’s the full release:

LOS ANGELES (Dec. 8, 2014) – In a special meeting today, the SAG-AFTRA National Board has approved by 93% the tentative agreement reached with the four major television broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) and other producers on terms for a successor agreement to the National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting (Network Television Code).

The board met via video conference in New York and Los Angeles to review the terms of the new agreement and voted to send the contract to the whole membership for ratification. Members should receive the ratification package within the next week.

“This is a terrific deal and I congratulate the hard-working negotiating committee. This agreement achieved significant gains across the numerous areas of the contract. There is something for everyone,” said SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard, who chaired the member negotiating committee.

Negotiations with the networks and producers concluded on Nov. 14. The contract term runs Nov. 16, 2014 to June 30, 2018.

“With this contract, we wrap up a busy negotiations season for SAG-AFTRA.  We’re very pleased with the gains achieved in this negotiation and I thank President Howard, the negotiating committee and our excellent, professional staff for their work,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White, who served as chief negotiator.

Contract highlights include:

  • Increases in contract minimums over a three-year period, including an 8.7 percent overall wage increase to most program fees, implemented through increases of 2.5 percent the first year, 3 percent the second year and 3 percent the third year.
  • In accordance with customary practice, increases in other categories as follows:
    • a 7.2-percent overall wage increase for serial (soap opera) performers, implemented through increases of 2 percent the first year, 2.5 percent the second year and 2.5 percent the third year;
    • and 6.1-percent increase in overall wages for work in network news, implemented through increases of 2 percent per year for three years;
  • An increase in contributions to the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds of .5 percent, starting in year one;
  • Expands the ability for stunt coordinators to work under this contract;
  • A 36-percent increase to background rehearsal rates in year two, from $ 11 per hour to $ 15 per hour, and a 12-percent increase for principal rehearsal rates in year two from $ 25 per hour to $ 28 per hour;
  • Increases in the overtime rate from $ 37.50 per hour to $ 42 per hour for principals, and $ 16.50 per hour to $ 22.50 per hour for background actors;
  • An 8-percent increase in the stand-in rate for non-dramatic programming, increasing from $ 24 per hour to $ 25 per hour in year one, and from $ 25 per hour to $ 26 per hour in year three;
  • For the first time, achieved a premium payment for solo/duo singers for multi-tracking and sweetening;
  • Agreement that a bulletin will be issued to producers of content under this agreement to help ensure adequate warm-up space for dancers;
  • Increases in the streaming residuals rate and a reduction in streaming windows, consistent with the industry pattern;
  • Language to help facilitate the merger of the SAG and AFTRA benefit plans.

The negotiating committee consisted of performers, including principal performers, background actors, promo announcers, stand-ins, singers and dancers.

Employment under the Network Television Code generates more than $ 200 million a year in covered member earnings. The Code covers programming in all television day parts (except for scripted primetime programs on the networks and the CW, which are covered under the SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement) and programming produced for digital media. Covered programs include dramas in first-run syndication, morning news shows, talk shows, serials (soap operas), variety, reality, contest, sports and promotional announcements. Current programs covered by this contract include: Good Morning America, The View, The Price is Right, The Young and the Restless, Saturday Night Live, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, Amazing Race, Nightline and Late Night with David Letterman, among many others.

Erik Pedersen

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