SAG-AFTRA ratifies film and TV contract despite opposition from Time’s Up
Members of SAG-AFTRA, Hollywood’s biggest union, ratified a new three-year contract with the major studios after a national vote.
The agreement, which will apply to the union’s 160,000 members who are performers, broadcasters and actors, will increase wages and residuals from streaming as well as improve funding for the union’s health and pension plans. The contract, which is retroactive to July 1, covers film, television and new media production.
SAG-AFTRA said it would also include new protections for performers governing nudity and intimate scenes in productions as well as sexual harassment prevention.
The deal was approved by a margin of 74.22%, with a turnout of 27.15%.
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation, supported by famous actors, raised its fundraising target to $12 million to help performers hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The contract will be a further boost to an industry trying to restart in the wake of the health care crisis. More than 200,000 entertainment industry workers in California have collected unemployment insurance to help navigate the loss of work.
While some film activity has resumed for commercials and other small-scale shoots, big productions with large crews are still on hold in Southern California.
Virus testing and other challenges are complicating efforts to resume production four months after the COVID-19 pandemic halted film and TV shoots.
“I am grateful for the many members who got involved and used their voices to help set the priorities for this contract,” SAG-AFTRA President and Negotiating Committee Chair Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement. “This is a forward-thinking agreement that builds on the changing realities of the streaming business and positions our union to continue the fight for a safer workplace for all.”
The deal was valued at $318 million and included wage increases of 2.5% in the first year and 3% in the second and third years of the contract.
The ratification follows weeks of negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers which started on April 27 and was approved by the union’s National Board on June 29. Member votes were submitted online and by mail-in ballot by the deadline of Wednesday.
If the three-year deal goes through, it is expected to include improvements in minimum salaries and residuals for members working on original shows.
The terms are similar to agreements previously negotiated by the Directors Guild of America and, more recently, the Writers Guild of America.
The SAG-AFTRA agreement faced opposition from the activism group Time’s Up, which fights for the rights of victims of sexual assault and harassment.
The group had urged members to vote against the deal, saying it did not go far enough to protect actors involved in nude or sex scenes, making it “deeply disappointing and dangerous.”
“Actors play a key role in influencing the narratives and norms that shape our culture,” Time’s Up said in a statement Thursday. “ In order to overcome the deeply systemic issues that have enabled abuse for many years, all industry stakeholders — from unions to filmmakers to content distributors — must independently build upon these protections for performers, above the baseline that the contract requires.”
SAG-AFTRA criticized the statement, saying: “While we support Time’s Up for their unique contributions to a cause in which we all believe, we completely disagree with their assumption that they have either the right or the invitation to intrude into this collective bargaining process that is led by the members for whom this organization and these agreements exist.”
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