At its two-day plenary, SAG-AFTRA’s National Board unanimously approved the 2019 Commercials Contracts tentative agreement reached with the Joint Policy Committee on April 2. The agreement will now be submitted to the membership for ratification.
The 2019 SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract and the 2019 SAG-AFTRA Audio Commercials Contract are landmark agreements for a new era, introducing innovative and flexible alternative compensation models to promote growth of union-covered commercial work. In addition to the benefits of the new models, SAG-AFTRA members working in commercials also will see across-the-board wage increases for all categories of work, increases to the benefit plans, coverage of stunt coordinators, outsized gains to group dancers, protections against workplace sexual harassment, and a streamlined renegotiation process for commercial agents representing SAG-AFTRA members.
Said SAG-AFTRA president and Commercials Negotiating Committee chair Gabrielle Carteris, “The new Commercials Contracts deliver essential gains to our members while positioning performers and the industry for growth in a rapidly changing environment. We’ve introduced a bold new model that speaks to the needs of a constantly evolving workplace. This is a monumental advance in expanding our jurisdiction. I want to recognize the national negotiating committee and staff for their diligent and inspired work, and I thank the national board for approving this agreement.”
Added SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator David White, “The members of the Negotiating Committee, all of whom work under these contracts, prepared diligently to negotiate a transformative agreement that represents a real step forward for our members. This is arguably the most important negotiation in a generation. The committee developed innovative solutions to the challenges facing the advertising industry with an agreement that modernizes the Commercials Contracts, making both of them more flexible and relevant to this quickly evolving industry.”
Highlights of the contracts include:
- New Upfront Use Packages provide performers with substantial upfront payments, creating simple and flexible structures for employers that positions SAG-AFTRA to cover more work opportunities under the contract.
- Across-the-board wage increases of 6 percent (applicable to all categories of work, including background).
- Increased funding to the health and retirement/pension plans estimated at $22.2 million.
- Protections against sexual harassment.
- Coverage of stunt coordinators.
- Outsized gains to group dancers.
- Streamlined and radically improved renegotiation process for commercial agents representing SAG-AFTRA members.
The board recommended that members ratify the contracts.
In keeping with the board’s prior policy resolution, the national referendum to ratify the Commercials Contracts 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 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 April 17. Ratification votes received by the voting deadline of approximately May 8 (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 current contracts remain in effect during the member ratification process. Upon ratification, these new agreements will become effective April 1, 2019, and will remain in force through March 31, 2022. The new contracts will include increases in minimum rates retroactive to April 1, 2019, and payable within 30 days of ratification. The new Upfront Use Packages will be available on June 1, 2019.
Formal negotiations between the 33-member (17 seated members and 16 alternates) SAG-AFTRA Commercial Negotiating Committee and the advertising industry began Feb. 20 and concluded April 2 at 4:10 p.m. ET in New York.