New SAG-AFTRA, Telemundo Deal Takes Hold With Minimums, Residuals and Benefits

Mike Butler/Telemundo
Telemundo Center, Miami

The board also approved the union’s "Netcode" deal, covering nonscripted, primetime English-language programming, and will send it on to the membership for ratification.

SAG-AFTRA’s board ratified by acclamation Saturday a deal reached July 12 with Telemundo, marking a first in Spanish-language media and bringing to fruition the promise of a successful unionization vote 15 months earlier against a backdrop of difficult times for unions and Latino-Americans.

The new contract, a copy of which The Hollywood Reporter exclusively obtained, took effect immediately. It includes minimums, residuals, pension and health benefits and an unusual provision requiring Telemundo to separately pay certain agent or manager commissions.

“I could not be more thrilled about our first-ever contract with Telemundo,” said the union’s national executive director David White. Combined with our Network Television Code, these agreements advance several key interests of our members and position this union for a brighter future.”

White also thanked the negotiating committee, chaired by Telemundo performer Pablo Azar, as well as union staff including COO and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, who served as lead negotiator.

The new three-year deal sets minimums in the first year at $183 for day players, $285 per day for guest stars, $460 daily for stunt performers and $4,076 monthly for so-called main cast performers. Annual increases of 1 to 2 percent apply in the second and third years of the deal.

Those rates and annual bumps are significantly less than those in the union’s main TV agreement, currently $956 for day players and subject to 2.5 and 3 percent increases. But the new Telemundo rates are a material increase over what the performers were previously being paid, according to union sources.

In addition, agent or manager commissions of up to 10 percent are borne by Telemundo for day players and guest stars. The company will also pay SAG pension and SAG-AFTRA health contributions of 11 percent in aggregate on compensation (including residuals), lower than the rate that English-language networks pay, currently about 18 percent. But paying P&H is new for Telemundo, which previously deemed its actors to be independent contractors.

Residuals under the new deal are 1.08 percent of gross receipts derived from licensing content to subscription video on demand platforms and 0.54 percent for other domestic and foreign reuse, with no residuals for exhibition on Telemundo or affiliated companies. Those sums are split among the actors according to a pro rata formula.

Those formulas are less than what applies to English-language networks, which can be 3.6 or 6 percent, depending on the reuse platform, or even a higher per-actor amount not dependent on gross receipts and not divvied up. But then again, the performers were previously getting no residuals at all.

THR has reached out to Telemundo for comment.

In other news, the union board approved the tentative Network Television Code with 79 percent of the board voting to recommend members vote “yes” to ratify the contract.

That agreement with the four major broadcast networks, also known as the "Netcode," encompasses work from most television day parts, as well as programming produced for digital media, including first-run syndication, morning news shows, talk shows, serials (soap operas), variety, reality, contest, sports and promotional announcements — but not including primetime scripted content (or the equivalent on digital platforms), which is encompassed by the union’s main television agreement most recently negotiated in 2017.

The new three-year agreement contains annual wage increases of 2.5, 3 and 3 percent and also improves funding of the AFTRA Retirement Fund. It retroactively commences on July 1 upon ratification. Ballot postcards are expected to be mailed to members on or about July 26, with a voting deadline of approximately Aug. 16.

“I’m gratified by the board’s approval and recommendation of a ‘yes’ vote on the Network Television Code,” said union president Gabrielle Carteris. “This agreement reflects $200 million in member earnings [and] is SAG-AFTRA’s first major agreement to include language regarding sexual harassment — a movement toward true systemic change.”

Separately, the board also unanimously approved the union’s public television agreement bargained with seven key local stations, and received a briefing from White about upcoming negotiations for a renewal of SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts, which expire March 31, 2019.