SAG-AFTRA members have overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new $1 billion-a-year set of commercials contracts that the union says is valued at an additional $120 million for members over the three-year span of the contracts.
The vote, which was 92,25% in favor, was in line with last month’s vote of the national board (93% in favor) to recommend membership ratification. The new contracts were hammered out over an eight-week bargaining span with the Joint Policy Committee of the advertising industry.
“We did it!” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher. “An overwhelming majority of members agreed on the new Commercials Contracts. As we move into a digital age, bold moves and structural changes had to be made. Our amazing negotiating committee heard what members needed and delivered new contracts with more money for streaming, more contributions to the health plan, limitations on self-tape auditions, hair and makeup equity, intimacy protections and more. These contracts create a baseline upon which to build a new future.”
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union’s national executive director and chief negotiator, said that “This bold new agreement reflects SAG-AFTRA’s multi-year approach to address the major shifts in the advertising industry and the growth of digital and streaming platforms. We are changing with the times and adapting our agreements to ensure our members can benefit from the long-term evolution in the industry. This agreement will ensure union members continue to work and continue to receive the earnings they deserve. The agreement will also support expanding the coverage of work performed under a SAG-AFTRA contract. The fantastic commitment and energy of the negotiating committee exemplifies how SAG-AFTRA and its members can overcome any future challenges by tackling our mission with a well-thought-out strategy, with foresight, passion, perseverance and most of all, unity.”
Former SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris, who chaired the negotiating committee, said that “Throughout the nearly eight-week process, our negotiating committee never wavered from a single-minded focus to modernize and transform our contracts. Our committee remained laser-focused on modernizing and transforming our Commercials Contracts. Our success in the negotiations is directly tied to the incredible support, advice and work of national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and chief contracts officer and lead negotiator Ray Rodriguez, whose influence and wise counsel is found in every provision in the contracts.”
According to the guild, the contracts’ long list of key provisions include:
* No nude auditions.
* New standards for nude or partially nude work.
* 10% increase, compounded, to scale rates in the first year of the contract.
* Establishment of flat fee, per-cycle rates across broad swaths of digital and traditional media, making the contract easier to use for employers and improving performers’ ability to track and confirm that their payments are correct.
* New, higher-paid category for streaming platforms such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, Peacock and Disney+
* Substantial increases in benefit plan contributions, including the equivalent of an additional 1.01% contribution directed to the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan.
* Equalization of rates for Spanish-language commercials, maintaining only a separate program fee.
* Class A use payments reduced by 5% in exchange for increases in digital payment structures. The per-use rate is maintained, with $20,000/$15,000 cap per 13-week cycle, only for advertisers and agencies.
* A new Mitigation Fund that addresses performers impacted most by the use-fee caps. The proceeds of the fund will be distributed to performers whose commercials most run in Class A.
* Numerous new rules for self-taped and live-remote auditions, applying the principles that are applicable to in-person auditions. This includes protections relating to:
* Repeated self-tapes
* Sides 24 hours in advance
* No request for unsafe activities
* No multiple locations
* No angle changes in a take
* No make-up or styling changes
* No special equipment or paid services to audition
* Required waiting room and delay notifications
* New rules for nudity and intimate scenes including:
* Advance notice of any requirement to perform nude or partially nude, with ability to refuse work and still be paid for the day if the requirements are not met.
* Call Sheet to include SAG-AFTRA harassment reporting info.
* No use of digital doubles to evade terms of the contracts.
* First-ever contractual requirement that hair and make-up personnel must be able to work on diverse performers to be considered “qualified”
* Improvements in provisions for deaf and hard of hearing performers.
* Additional protections for minor performers.
* Improvements for singer contractors, choreographers and assistant choreographers.
* Additional compensation for background performers riding in stunt vehicles and additional examples of hazardous work, triggering additional compensation.
* Protection against requiring performers to sign unilateral, overly aggressive confidentiality agreements at auditions.
* Performers must now be told at the time of audition if the producer will be applying any waivers.
* Revised statute of limitation language that avoids performers having to file claims for unpaid use until after the commercial is dead.