SAG-AFTRA Board Overwhelmingly Approves New $200 Million Network Television Code

SAG-AFTRA’s national board has voted overwhelmingly (84.54% to 15.46%) to approve a tentative new agreement for its Network Television Code, which was recently negotiated with the major television broadcast networks and other producers. It will now be sent to SAG-AFTRA members for ratification.

The contract generates more than $200 million a year in covered earnings for members working on nearly all non-primetime and all non-dramatic primetime television, as well as digital media. Covered programs include morning news shows, talk shows, soap operas, variety, reality, game shows, sports and promotional announcements. Current programs covered include Good Morning America, Tamron Hall, The Young and the Restless, Jeopardy, Saturday Night Live, The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the Academy Awards and the Super Bowl.

“This contract exemplifies why unions are essential for labor,” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher. “Thanks to the strength of SAG-AFTRA, which fought for the substantial gains acquired through this negotiation, many will benefit. The biggest beneficiaries being dancers, stand-ins and promotional announcers. But, also in the interest of elevating consciousness and sensitivity of a performer’s safe space, it expands protections for those performing nude or in intimate scenes. That’s a seminal step toward providing a safer environment on set and moving the needle toward an industry that respects boundaries.”

“The gains achieved in this contract are essential to the working performers who make Net Code content successful,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union’s national executive director and chief negotiator. “I want to thank our Negotiating Committee for their hard work on this contract, especially Negotiating Committee chair Keri Tombazian and vice chair Kevin Scullin. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to lead negotiator Ray Rodriguez for his leadership in navigating these complex and lengthy negotiations.”

Highlights of the new contact, the union says, include:
• General wage increases of 3% per year retroactive to July 1, 2021, applicable to most rates.
• A 1% benefit fund contribution rate increase split 60% to the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan and 40% to the AFTRA Retirement Fund.
• For primetime award shows and entertainment specials, producers are now required to provide transportation to and lodging at broadcast centers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., which are presently exceptions to transportation and lodging obligations for all types of programming.
• Required lodging or transportation when exhaustion or inclement weather prevent safe driving.
• “Greatly improved” nudity and simulated sex provisions that match the achievements made in the 2020 TV/Theatrical Contracts negotiation.
• “Substantial increases” for dancers on primetime variety shows and award shows in the extra rehearsal rate (from $30 to $40) and overtime rates (from $45 for primetime variety and $48 for award show rehearsal days to $55 for both), including a new $70 overtime rate for hours in excess of 12 in a day.
• Notice of authorized rehearsals required to be given to dancers to enable dancers and the union “to surface and resolve disputes over whether rehearsals are covered.”
• Singers now receive doubling pay at 50% of the applicable dancer program fee when required to learn “complex choreography.”
• Where there are more than two weeks of rehearsal for an awards show or primetime entertainment special, rehearsal pay is due biweekly instead of after show day.
• First-ever requirement to pay scale — set at the same as traditional media scale — for promotional announcements made for new media with an additional 15% due for use beyond 13 weeks.
• First-ever requirement of additional compensation — set at 15% of minimum fee — for reuse beyond 13 weeks of a traditional media promotional announcement reused in new media.
• Automatic $14 additional compensation for background actors and stand-ins required to work in artificially generated rain or smoke (excluding herbal cigarettes) when not able to wear appropriate swim, surf or snow gear.
• Stand-in minimum calls “significantly increased.”

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