(EXTRA ARTICLE ADDED BELOW)
July 12, 2014 | 11:06PM PT
Saturday’s action by the performers union board triggers a ratification vote by the 165,000 SAG-AFTRA members.
Postcards notifying members about voting will be mailed out July 23. Members can vote electronically or by paper ballot with a deadline of Aug. 22, when the votes will be counted.
The board met for more than 12 hours and recommended approval of the new deal with 90% of the board members in favor.
SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached the agreement July 4 following two months of negotiations. In a message to members that day, the union touted “significant gains” in the new tentative deal – including a compounded 8.7% hike in minimums over three years; unification of the SAG and AFTRA TV contracts; and improved terms and conditions and full TV rate minimums for productions made for SVOD services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.
The producers will increase their contribution to the separate SAG and AFTRA pension and health plans by 0.5% to 17%. The AMPTP — which serves as the bargaining arm for producers — has also agreed to take steps toward merging the plans.
Aside from unifying the SAG and AFTRA TV contracts, the tentative agreement largely mirrored the gains achieved by the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America in their new master contracts earlier this year. The TV minimums will be based on the lower SAG rate.
If approved by members, the new contract will replace the separate SAG and AFTRA contracts which have remained in effect since the 2012 merger. The new contract would be retroactive to July 1.
SAG-AFTRA said that members-only informational meetings will take place. The union did not amplify on the details contained in the July 4 announcement but noted that it will release details of the agreement prior to the balloting period.
Howard said in statement Saturday, “I am grateful to the board for its approval and recommendation of this agreement and I am proud of what the negotiating team was able to achieve in this negotiation. The unification of the contracts was a priority for us and is a significant gain as is the wage increase — this is the first 3 percent increase in a couple of contract cycles and that is great. This landmark agreement includes provisions that will serve the members for years to come.”
The board also approved the appointment of a negotiating committee for its Network Code contract and said its “wages and working conditions” committee will hold meetings with members to begin formulating a proposal between Aug. 11 and Sept. 5. The current pact — which was covered by AFTRA prior to the merger — includes TV programs outside of primetime such as morning news shows, talk shows, soap operas, variety, reality, contests, sports, first-run syndicated dramas and promotional announcements.
Current programs covered by this contract include: “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “The Price is Right,” “General Hospital,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “20/20,” and “Late Show with David Letterman.”
The union said Secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino and CFO Arianna Ozzanto reported on the union’s financial status for the fiscal year ended April 30, including an unqualified audit opinion from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ozzanto disclosed a year-end surplus of $8 million, citing expense management efforts and increased revenue from dues and initiation fees.
Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland reported on the ongoing distribution of foreign royalties to SAG-AFTRA members. The board approved “enhanced and renewed” foreign royalties collection agreements with collecting societies in Spain and Germany.
Former SAG president Ed Asner and 15 other plaintiffs sued SAG-AFTRA last year over alleged mishandling of $132 million in residuals and foreign royalties. A federal judge granted SAG-AFTRA’s dismissal motion in January, noting the union has been sufficiently cooperative in providing access to its materials but indicating that the plaintiffs could re-visit the issues.
“A couple of contract cycles” ain’t that about how long Ken and his gang have been in control?
The Ol’ SAG Watchdog
*Photo selected by Watchdog.
11:12 PM PST 07/12/2014 by Jonathan Handel
David White, SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator
The deal now goes to the membership for ratification.
SAG-AFTRA’s board overwhelmingly approved the three-year theatrical and television contracts reached July 4 with the AMPTP, the union announced Saturday night. The pact now goes to the membership for ratification.
The board approved the tentative agreement 90 percent to 10 percent and recommended a vote of yes to ratify the contracts. The balloting will be conducted online, with paper ballots available on request. Eligible members will receive a postcard with instructions, which will be mailed to members on or around July 23, 2014. The voting deadline is approximately August 22, 2014, and votes will be tabulated that day.
Additionally, informational meetings will be scheduled for members across the country. Comprehensive details of the agreement will be posted prior to the balloting period.
The current contracts remain in effect during the member ratification process. The term of the new agreement is for three years, effective July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017, and is retroactive upon ratification.
“I am grateful to the board for its approval and recommendation of this agreement, and I am proud of what the negotiating team was able to achieve in this negotiation,” said SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard. “The unification of the contracts was a priority for us and is a significant gain as is the wage increase. This is the first 3 percent increase in a couple of contract cycles and that is great. This landmark agreement includes provisions that will serve the members for years to come.”
The union’s national executive director and chief negotiator David White said, “In addition to securing immediate increases for our members, our negotiating committee remained focused on the long-term vitality of this union and of our contracts. I’m pleased that we achieved the essential and historic unification of our entertainment agreements as well as a substantial wage increase and a boost to employer contributions to our benefits plans. We also improved terms for streaming content and in other areas of new media. Overall, this negotiation embraces the many changes sweeping the industry and positions our membership for strength at the bargaining table in the years ahead.”
Formal negotiations between the 26-member SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Committee and the AMPTP began on Monday, May 5, in Los Angeles and concluded at midnight on July 4, 2014. Talks were preceded by wages and working conditions meetings held this past spring.
Board members also approved the appointment of a National Network Code Wages & Working Conditions Committee of 13 voting members and 10 alternates that will also serve as the negotiating committee. Howard will chair the committee and White will serve as chief negotiator for the union. The Network Code Wages and Working Conditions process will commence on or after August 11 and end on or around September 5.
The Network Code is among the union’s largest national collective bargaining agreements and covers programming in all television day parts, except for prime-time dramatic programs on the networks and The CW, basic cable and pay-TV programming.
Programs covered by the Network Code include morning news shows, talk shows, serials (soap operas), variety, reality, contests, sports, first-run syndicated dramas and promotional announcements. Among the shows covered by this contract are Good Morning America, The View, The Price is Right, General Hospital, Saturday Night Live, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, Survivor, 20/20, and Late Show with David Letterman, among others.
In other business, the union’s board received reports including:
* Howard provided a summary report regarding TV-Theatrical negotiations and updated the board on recent meetings with broadcast member leaders in the Washington-Mid Atlantic Local and other strategic activities.
* Secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino and chief financial officer Arianna Ozzanto reported on the union’s 2014 year-end financials, including an unqualified audit opinion from accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Ozzanto also reported a year-end surplus of $8 million due to expense management efforts and increased revenue from dues and initiation fees.
* White provided the board with a summary report on operations and an update on TV-Theatrical negotiations and the recently agreed upon tentative agreement.
* Chief operating officer and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland reported on administrative and governance matters. The board set October 11 and 12, 2014, for its next meeting and approved Oct. 1-4, 2015, as the dates for the second SAG–AFTRA national convention, which will be held in Los Angeles. Crabtree-Ireland also reported on the ongoing distribution of foreign royalties to SAG-AFTRA members, and the board approved enhanced and renewed foreign royalties collection agreements with collecting societies in Spain and Germany.
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