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SAG-AFTRA announced Wednesday that it has struck a multiyear agreement with Los Angeles-based payments software company Exactuals to deliver residuals payments to its members through direct deposit.
Currently, the union processes about 4 million paper checks each year amounting to $1 billion in payments. Under the new agreement, the first of its kind in the entertainment industry, Exactuals will serve as a third-party broker to facilitate paperless transmission of data and funds between the studios and payroll houses to SAG-AFTRA and its members. Processing of funds will be handled by Exactuals through City National, which will electronically transfer funds to member accounts in any checking account at a domestic bank.
The service to members will be free of charge and will roll out over the course of 2017, according to a union spokesperson, on an optional, opt-in basis.
The deployment is expected to start in earnest after June 1, because SAG-AFTRA will likely be beginning contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in March ahead of contract expiration May 31. In addition, the union’s fiscal year ends April 30.
“Our members asked for the direct deposit of residuals and we have heard them loud and clear,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in announcing the system. “We have long been in discussions with employers to make this happen and are delighted to announce this partnership.” Carteris‘ term ends with elections this summer, and the new system is likely to be a feature of her anticipated re-election campaign.
SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White added, “Our team has worked with Exactuals and other institutional partners on this initiative for years and I am thrilled now to roll this out to our membership and the industry. This represents a tremendous innovation for our industry and I want to thank and congratulate our partners for their foresight, investment and collaboration on this project. I also salute our terrific staff who have worked so hard on behalf of our membership to make this ambitious goal a reality.”
Valery Kotik, national director of residuals processing at SAG-AFTRA, said, “This long-overdue electronic delivery system will improve the efficiency of residuals processing and deliver payments to members quicker and more conveniently.”
“We are thrilled to join with the industry’s largest union in SAG-AFTRA and one of the most trusted financial institutions in City National to bring secure direct deposit to the residuals space,” said Mike Hurst, Exactuals CEO and co-founder. The company recently raised $10 million in Series A financing, in a round co-led by entertainment lender City National and including about a dozen other funds and angel investors.
Said Martha Henderson, head of that bank’s entertainment division, “City National is very pleased to work with SAG-AFTRA and Exactuals in this new landmark process that will make lives easier for many in the entertainment industry.”
The deal covers entertainment residuals from any source, but excludes commercials residuals, as those checks are not processed through the union. The new arrangement is a continuation of SAG-AFTRA’s automation work, which included the installation three years ago of equipment that slashed the processing time for paper checks. Residuals make up on average about 40 percent of a SAG-AFTRA member’s earnings.
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