New SAG-AFTRA Commercials Deal Set to Increase Wages

The Hollywood Sign - Getty - H 2016
David McNew/Getty Images

The agreement also increases residuals and adds new internet provisions.

The new SAG-AFTRA commercials contract, which the union’s board endorsed over the weekend, immediately increases wages by 7 percent and additionally increases use fees (residuals) for national broadcast and cable commercials and internet commercials, The Hollywood Reporter has determined from an analysis of contract documents posted without fanfare on the union’s website Wednesday morning.

Those increases, along with increases in the contributions advertisers make to the union’s pension and health plans, will likely be welcome news to SAG-AFTRA members, who will soon be asked to ratify the new three-year contract. Postcards with voting instructions will be mailed to all eligible voters on Monday, April 18.

The new wage increases and other payment increases are worth over $200 million, according to the union. The documents amend the previous commercials contracts. The agreements — likely worth in aggregate over a billion dollars per year in earnings, although exact figures are not available — are among the union’s largest economically, rivaled only by the TV/theatrical contract. SAG-AFTRA and the bargaining unit representing advertisers and advertising agencies reached agreement on the deal on April 3 after several weeks of negotiation.

Key points in the new deal include:

* A 7 percent upfront increase in minimum session fees for principals and extras, effective April 1 of this year. This wage increase will also have the effect of increasing residuals (use fees), but as noted below there are additional increases in some residuals beyond the general wage increase.

* A 1.2 percent increase in the contribution rates paid by management to the SAG pension & health plans and AFTRA health & retirement funds, bringing the rate to 18 percent.

* A 2 percent increase in residuals paid for national network broadcast commercials, so-called Class A spots, on top of the wage increase.

* A 6 percent increase in national cable residuals, again in addition to the wage increase.

* A new rate for stand-ins, which will be 10 percent higher than the rate paid to extras.

* Increases in residuals for Internet commercials and commercials on cell phones. The increases range up to 16.7 percent, and are in addition to the wage increase.

* Provisions that television commercials can be concurrently streamed on the internet or via cell phones without owing additional compensation to the actors.

* Provisions that allow for internet and cellphone commercials to be played on the basis of a four-week use cycle in addition to the existing eight-week and one-year cycle options.

* An experimental “social media waiver,” providing special terms on a trial basis for commercials produced for social media platforms.

* A confidentiality clause, as part of the standard employment contracts for principal and extra performers.

* A provision that Veteran’s Day will be a recognized holiday.

David White, the union’s national executive director, served as its lead negotiator, while SAG-AFTRA’s then-executive vp and now president Gabrielle Carteris and New York-based board member Sue Ann Morrow co-chaired the organization’s negotiating committee. Other union representatives included co-lead negotiators Ray Rodriguez and Mathis Dunn and senior advisor John McGuire. On the management side, Douglas J. Wood was lead negotiator for the ANA-4A’s Joint Policy Committee on Broadcast Talent Union Relations.

THR has reached out to SAG-AFTRA and the JPC, and will update with any comment. The complete contract documents are available on the union’s website and the JPC’s as well.

Updated 4/14/2016 11:47 a.m. with $200 million figure from union