Stacey Addo | Arts and Entertainment Editor
JOSE PEREZ/BAUER-GRIFFIN/ People/ 2023
After 118 days, at 12:01 am on November 9, the SAG-AFTRA strikes finally came to an end. According to the union, many changes have been added to the new contracts totaling a package worth more than one billion dollars in new wages and benefits.
One of the biggest concerns was the use of artificial intelligence. The new contracts include members getting informed consent and compensation for using actors' likeliness.
The new contract also includes two wage increases in the first year of the contract including 7% upon ratification and another 4% increase in July 2024. There will also be a 3.5% increase that will come into effect in July 2025. Wages for background actors have also received an 11% increase as of Nov. 12, 2023, and will also receive an additional 4% increase on July 1, 2024, and another 3.5% on July 1, 2025. Fixed residuals were added for stunt coordinators working on television and new media productions.
There will also be about a 43% increase to the contribution cap for one-hour productions and nearly a 67% increase for half-hour productions resulting in an increased contribution to the Health and Pension/Retirement funds.
SAG was also able to set a new precedence and change the compensation methods for streaming. The new contract provides a “substantial” bonus on top of their existing residual structures to make working in streaming services more sustainable. A majority of the compensation will be paid to actors when they meet viewership requirements and the remaining funds will be distributed to actors working on those platforms through a new jointly-trusteed distribution fund.
Along with actors, the contract also achieved important changes for hair and makeup equity including, “The contract achieved important gains for hair and makeup equity, the sharing of aggregate diversity statistics, eliminating inappropriate wiggings and paintdowns, gender-neutral language, access to gender-affirming care, and translation services.”
The new contracts also provide more protection against sexual harassment and protect performers by including intimacy coordinators in scenes involving nudity and simulated sex or upon request.
The contracts also make changes to the casting process stating that provisions specifying breakdowns, sides, and scripts must be provided no less than 48 hours before the submission deadline or 72 hours for minors. Talent cannot be asked to perform more than 8 industry standard pages for a self-tape or 12 pages for a call-back. On top of this, if memorization is required for an audition, performers are entitled to compensation. Performers cannot be requested to appear nude or wear anything more revealing than a bathing suit. Producers also must provide the opportunity for interviews to be done virtually on a first come first served basis for performers with disabilities, senior performers, and minors. There will also be improvements in the relocation allowance for series performers which will cover $5000 per month for 6 months with no cap on the amount of seasons.
Ratification votes will finish on Tuesday, December 5 for union members to agree to the new changes.