SAG-AFTRA National Board Unanimously Approves Historic Agreement With Telemundo Television Studios
The SAG-AFTRA National Board met today in a one-day video-conference plenary and unanimously approved the historic first-ever tentative agreement reached with Telemundo Television Studios on July 12 covering Spanish-language television performers. The board also approved the tentative agreement made with the major broadcast television networks on June 9. With the board's approval, the National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting (the Network Television Code) now goes to the union's membership for ratification.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said, "I want to thank the board for its unanimous approval of the Telemundo agreement. This first contract creates a solid foundation from which to build and speaks to the fact that we all deserve strong protections and respect.
"I'm also gratified by the board's approval and recommendation of a 'yes' vote on the Network Television Code. This agreement reflects $200 million in member earnings across nearly all television day parts. This contract is SAG-AFTRA's first major agreement to include language regarding sexual harassment - a movement towards true systemic change," she added.
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White said, "I could not be more thrilled about our first-ever contract with Telemundo. I am grateful to our negotiating committee and staff for their hard work and determination in pulling this multi-year effort together. I would like to thank in particular our lead negotiator for the Telemundo agreement, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. Combined with our Network Television Code, these agreements advance several key interests of our members and position this union for a brighter future."
The agreement with Telemundo followed 15 months of negotiations. Among the key elements of the new three-year deal are: contributions to and participation in the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan and SAG-Producers Pension Plan for the first time; residuals for both foreign and domestic exploitation and streaming platforms, based on a percentage of Telemundo's gross receipts; first-ever guaranteed minimum rates for all covered performer categories (including actors, stunt performers, singers and dancers); annual increases in all newly-established minimums between 1-2 percent per year, and newly established working conditions and safety protections. Telemundo is the largest employer of Spanish-language talent in the United States and the board approved the agreement by acclamation. The agreement with Telemundo is effective immediately.
In addition, the board overwhelmingly approved the tentative Network Television Code, with 79 percent voting to recommend members vote "yes" to ratify the contracts. The agreement with the four major television broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) generates more than $200 million a year in covered work from nearly all television day parts as well as programming produced for digital media including dramas in first-run syndication, morning news shows, talk shows, serials (soap operas), variety, reality, contest, sports and promotional announcements.
Eligible SAG-AFTRA members will now vote on the proposed agreement, in which the union secured significant improvements in increases in contract minimums over a three-year period, including an 8.7 percent overall wage increase to most program fees, implemented through increases of 2.5 percent the first year, 3 percent the second year and 3 percent the third year. The agreement also significantly improves funding of the AFTRA Retirement Fund. The term of the new agreement is for three years effective July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2021 and is retroactive upon ratification.
In keeping with the National Board's prior policy resolution, the national referendum for the Network Television Code agreements will be conducted via an online vote to ratify the contracts. Traditional paper ballots will also be available on request to any eligible voter who asks for such a ballot. Members who are eligible to vote (under the National Multi-Employer Collective Bargaining Agreement Policy) will receive a postcard with ballot instructions explaining how to vote electronically or how to request a paper ballot. The postcard will be mailed to members on or about July 26, 2018. Ratification votes received by the voting deadline of approximately August 16, 2018 (electronically or by mail) will be tabulated on the same day. Informational meetings will be scheduled for members across the country to discuss the tentative agreement. Information about the agreement will also be posted online prior to the balloting period.
The National Board also received reports including:
President Carteris opened the meeting with a moment of silence in honor of members who have passed away since the last meeting. Carteris spoke about the successful Network Television Code and Telemundo negotiations, the agreement reached with newly launched streaming platform Zeus, and provided an update on the union's efforts regarding its fight for digital image rights.
National Executive Director's Report
White delivered a summary overview of the changing business and regulatory landscape facing labor and our industry, the union's work with content creators, and the importance of member involvement in the upcoming commercials contracts negotiations.
Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin and Chief Financial Officer Arianna Ozzanto gave the financial report for the year ending April 30, 2018. The presentation also included a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers in which they issued an unqualified audit opinion.
Ozzanto reported a year-end surplus of $8.3 million due to a combination of increased revenue and expense management.
In addition to the above contracts news, the board also unanimously approved the Public Television Agreement bargained with Public Television companies WGBH, WNET, WETA, KCET, KQED, WQED Multimedia and Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.
Crabtree-Ireland provided a summary of the first-ever agreement with Telemundo Television Studios. Members of the negotiating committee including its chair, Telemundo performer Pablo Azar, thanked the board for approving the agreement and shared the importance of this historic moment to their professional lives.
Legal and Governance Report
Crabtree-Ireland provided a legal report and along with Executive Vice President Rebecca Damon presented Government Review Committee recommendations.
Digital Evolution Update
Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Pamela Greenwalt gave a presentation on the union's digital evolution, its new sagaftra.org website, email marketing enhancements and a preview of future developments to improve the member's digital experience.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:23 p.m. PT.
SAG-AFTRA represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other entertainment and media professionals. SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world. A proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO, SAG-AFTRA has national offices in Los Angeles and New York and local offices nationwide representing members working together to secure the strongest protections for entertainment and media artists into the 21st century and beyond. Visit SAG-AFTRA online at sagaftra.org.