SAG-AFTRA

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SAG-AFTRA
Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists[1]
FoundedMarch 30, 2012; 11 years ago (2012-03-30)
Merger of
TypeTrade union
45-4931719[1]
Legal status501(c)(5) organization
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California, U.S.[2]
Location
  • United States
Members
  • 116,741 (active; 2016)[3]
  • 80,440 (other; withdrawn/​suspended; 2014)[4]
President
Fran Drescher
Executive director
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland
SubsidiariesScreen Actors Guild Awards
Affiliations
Staff (2018)
664[1]
Volunteers (2018)
1,150[1]
Websitesagaftra.org

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA, pronounced /sæɡˈæftrə/ sag-AF-trə) is an American labor union that reflects the 2012 merger of SAG (the Screen Actors Guild) and AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). It represents approximately 160,000 media professionals worldwide. SAG-AFTRA is a member of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States.[5] SAG-AFTRA is also a member of the International Federation of Actors (FIA).[6]

History

SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles, California, headquarters to SAG-AFTRA

Background

The organization was formed on March 30, 2012, following the merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.[7] In January 2013, Variety reported that the merger had proceeded with "few bumps", amid shows of good will on both sides. The stickiest remaining problem was reported to be the merger of the two pension funds, in part as a way of dealing with the issue of performers who paid into each plan but did not quite earn enough under either of the old plans to qualify for a pension.[8]

SAG-AFTRA is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, and in New York City, in addition to other local offices nationwide.[2]

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Screen Actors Guild Awards (also known as SAG Awards) is an awards ceremony founded in 1995 to recognize outstanding performances in movie and prime time television. SAG Awards have been one of the major awards events in the Hollywood film industry since then, along with the Golden Globe Awards and the Oscars. SAG awards focus both on individual performances and on the work of the entire ensemble of a drama series and comedy series, and the cast of a motion picture.

Composition

SAG-AFTRA has a diverse membership consisting of actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, disc jockeys, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals.

Membership in SAG-AFTRA is considered a rite of passage for new performers and media professionals. It is often procured after getting hired for their first job in a studio that has a collective bargaining agreement with the union.[9] SAG-AFTRA work is considered to be substantially more prestigious than non-union jobs. Due to the size and influence of the union, most major media firms have a collective bargaining agreement with SAG-AFTRA through the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Studios that have signed a collective bargaining agreement with SAG-AFTRA are not closed shops but are generally required to give preference to union members when hiring.

Nearly all professional actors and media professionals working for medium or large-scale American media firms are union members. According to SAG-AFTRA's Department of Labor records since its founding, around a third of the union's total membership has consistently been considered "withdrawn", "suspended", or otherwise not categorized as "active" members. These members are ineligible to vote in the union.[10] "Honorable withdrawals" constitute the largest portion of these, at 20% of the total membership, or 46,934 members. "Suspended payment" members are the second largest, at 14%, or 33,422 members.[4] This classification scheme is carried over from the Screen Actors Guild[11] rather than the one used by AFTRA.[12]

Factions

The union is perceived as having two factions. The larger faction ("United for Strength") says it is focused on creating job opportunities for members. A second faction ("Membership First") has criticized the current administration for being too quick and soft when it comes to negotiations with studios.[13]

Major strikes and boycotts

Global Rule One

Global Rule One states: No member shall render any services or make an agreement to perform services for any employer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the union, which is in full force and effect, in any jurisdiction in which there is a SAG-AFTRA national collective bargaining agreement in place. This provision applies worldwide.[14]

Simply put, a SAG-AFTRA member must always work under a union contract around the globe.[15]

"Do not work" orders are formally issued to denote productions that have not entered into the required agreements.[16]

2016–2017 video game voice actor strike

After approximately a year and a half of negotiations, SAG-AFTRA issued a strike on October 21, 2016, against eleven American video game developers and publishers, including Activision, Electronic Arts, Insomniac Games, Take 2 Interactive, and WB Games. The strike resulted from attempted negotiations since February 2015 to replace the previous contract, the Interactive Media Agreement, that expired in late 2014.[17] There were four major issues they fought for with this strike: establishing transparency in contract negotiation; preventing vocal stress from long recording sessions; providing safety assurances for stunt coordinators on performance capture sets; and giving payments of residuals based on sales of a video game,[18] which have traditionally not been used in the video game industry. SAG-AFTRA members sought to bring equity for video game actors as in other industries, while the video game companies feared that giving residuals to actors would overshadow the contributions of programmers and artists that contribute to the games. It was the first such organized strike within the video game industry and the first voice actors' strike in 17 years, as well as the first strike within the merged SAG-AFTRA organization. As of April 23, 2017, it became the longest strike within SAG, surpassing the 95-day 1980 Emmy Awards strike, and the 2000 commercials strike.[19]

An agreement was reached on September 23, 2017, ending the 340-day strike.[20]

Strike against Bartle Bogle Hegarty

On September 20, 2018, SAG-AFTRA called a strike against global advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) after the company announced they would no longer honor a long-standing contract with SAG-AFTRA. SAG-AFTRA launched a successful strike action that drew thousands of members to picket lines and strike actions across the country.[21] At the close of the strike, BBH agreed to return to SAG-AFTRA's contract.[22]

In 2018, BBH had withdrawn from their contract with SAG-AFTRA, which was first agreed on in 1999, over contractual terms that stated BBH would not be allowed to hire non-union actors. BBH stated it put them at a competitive disadvantage as many of their peer agencies were not signatories.[23][24][25]

SAG-AFTRA members' successful strike actions, including pickets and rallies throughout the US, proved a success for SAG-AFTRA. Several actions of note included a rally of 1,000 SAG-AFTRA members and supporters near SAG-AFTRA Headquarters at the La Brea Tar Pits, and a picket line at BBH Headquarters in Los Angeles that drew an estimated 1,000 members standing in solidarity on the picket line.[26]

On July 20, 2019, SAG ended its 10-month strike against BBH after the advertising agency agreed to sign the union's new commercials contract.[27]

Donald Trump ban

On February 7, 2021, SAG-AFTRA announced that Donald Trump, who resigned from the union three days earlier, was barred from rejoining for his perceived attacks on SAG-AFTRA journalists and support of the January 6 United States Capitol attack as president of the United States.[28]

2023 strike

In June 2023, the guild voted to authorize a strike if its negotiating committee failed to reach an agreement on a new contract with major Hollywood studios by June 30. On June 27, over 300 actors signed a letter threatening to go on strike. Signatories include Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Rami Malek and Amy Schumer.[29] The next day, signatories had reached 1,000 members.[30] Key issues in the negotiations include issuing residuals based on viewership data and finding a uniform metric on which to judge all streaming platform data. Further issues include limiting the use of self-tape auditions and preventing the use of artificial intelligence and computer generated voices and faces within the entertainment industry.[31][32][33] On July 10, 2023, SAG-AFTRA laid out potential strike rules including: no shoots, no press, and no social media promos for any actors or actresses under the guild.[34] A representative of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) spoke about the compensation offered to actors to avoid a strike. The alliance, which negotiated with the union on behalf of Netflix, Walt Disney, and Warner Bros stated that SAG-AFTRA deliberately distorts the course of negotiations. The deal, which SAG-AFTRA refused on July 12, included more than $1 billion for an increase in salaries, pensions and health insurance, was designed for a three-year period and included the protection of actors from the use of their images by artificial intelligence.[35]

On July 13, SAG-AFTRA announced that SAG-AFTRA's television, theatrical, and streaming contract with the AMPTP had expired without an agreement to replace it. They announced that the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee had voted unanimously to strike. SAG-AFTRA also announced that their National Board would meet later that morning to decide on whether or not SAG-AFTRA would go on strike. SAG-AFTRA said they would make their decision known to the public at 12 p.m. PST in a press conference at SAG-AFTRA plaza in Los Angeles.[36] During the press conference, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher and national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland confirmed that members had voted to strike and that the strike would begin July 14.[37][38] This marked the first strike that involved actors in the film and television industry since 1980,[38] and also the first time since 1960 that both SAG-AFTRA and the WGA would strike at the same time.[38][39] The strike would last for almost four months, eventually coming to an end on November 9, 2023.[40]

Organizing campaigns

Telemundo

On February 9, 2016, NBCUniversal, Telemundo's parent company, faced claims by SAG-AFTRA of operating under a double standard between its Spanish-language and English-language talent at NBC and Telemundo. In its response, the network released a statement claiming it is "committed to making Telemundo a great place to work for our employees and will continue to invest in them to ensure their salaries and working conditions are competitive with the rest of the broadcasting industry in accordance with market size and station revenues."

A few days later on February 13, 2016, SAG-AFTRA came back and added that Telemundo had been treating its employees like "second-class professionals" given that many actors do not receive basic workplace guarantees that SAG-AFTRA contracts provide, such as fair pay, water breaks, health insurance and residuals. At that time, Telemundo president Luis Silberwasser responded by saying that SAG-AFTRA asked for recognition of the union as the bargaining agent for employees — rather than seeking a vote by employees. However, SAG-AFTRA claimed that intimidation tactics had been taking place within the network to keep employees from unionizing and that they believe "there is no such thing as a 'fair vote' when workers are afraid for their careers and livelihoods, and live with the fear of retaliation if they are seen as actively wanting to unionize. SAG-AFTRA wants to ensure full protection for workplace democracy and performers' rights to choose through a truly fair process."[41]

In August 2016, Telemundo once again found itself up against the union when the network refused to air an ad placed by SAG-AFTRA detailing the unfair wage gap and lack of benefits Telemundo employees face as opposed to unionized performers at NBCUniversal. The ad was set to air during the network's premiere people's choice awards Premios Tu Mundo but was never placed into rotation. A Telemundo spokesperson responded saying, "After legal review, we have concluded the ad did not pass legal standards for issue-based advertisement." Meanwhile, other Spanish-language networks such as MegaTV and Estrella TV aired the ad nationwide.[42]

SAG-AFTRA continued to stand its ground, stating that "Telemundo's decision to censor 30 seconds of truthful commentary about its working conditions shows just how averse it is to having a transparent discussion about its refusal to fairly compensate Spanish-speaking performers."[42]

In March 2016, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administered a secret vote amongst 124 Telemundo performers, based on the amount of time actors have worked on telenovela dramas and other shows. SAG-AFTRA announced that 81% of eligible voters chose to unionize in a balloting process that began Feb 7 and lasted four weeks.[43]

On July 12, 2018, SAG-AFTRA announced it had reached a first-ever tentative agreement with Telemundo Television Studios covering Spanish-language television performers, after fifteen months of negotiations.

Among the key elements of the three-year deal were:

  • 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% per year
  • Newly established working conditions and safety protections, including:
    • Minimum rest period between calls of 10 hours
    • Requirement for qualified personnel to coordinate stunts
    • Provisions regarding protection of minors
    • Overtime, holiday pay, and per diem when on location[44]

The agreement was renewed in 2021, including an increase in overnight rest periods from 10 to 11 hours except for on-location work, additional language tackling sexual harassment and audition safety and an increase in the current health and pension plan contribution rate by 0.5 percent once the contract's ended.[45]

Social efforts

In May 2023, in a partnership with the Motion Picture Association of America as well as other entertainment industry unions, SAG-AFTRA launched the Green Council Initiative that would aim to encourage and promote environmentally responsible entertainment. According to Deadline, founding members would include Fran Drescher, Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Diane Keaton, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Salma Hayek, Gloria Estefan, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosario Dawson, Billy Porter, Aida Rodriguez, Jason Momoa, Rachel Bloom, Chris Colfer, David Dastmalchian, and Ellen Crawford."[46]

Leadership history

As SAG, there were 28 presidents from 1933-2012 (with Ralph Morgan, Robert Montgomery, and Ronald Reagan holding non-consecutive, separate terms in office),[47] and as AFTRA there were 22 presidents from 1937-2012.[48]

In 2012, Ken Howard (who had been the President of SAG since 2009) became the first president of SAG-AFTRA, the merger between the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.[49][50] In addition, he worked as co-president with former AFTRA President Roberta Reardon from 2012-2013.[49] Upon his death in 2016, he was succeeded by Gabrielle Carteris who served as President until 2021.[51] She was followed by Fran Drescher (of the Unite for Strength faction), who first became President in September 2021,[52] and was re-elected in September 2023.[53] Duncan Crabtree-Ireland has also been the National Executive Director since 2021.[54]

Presidents of SAG[47]
President Term
Ralph Morgan 1933
Eddie Cantor 1933-1935
Robert Montgomery 1935-1938
Ralph Morgan 1938-1940
Edward Arnold 1940-1942
James Cagney 1942-1944
George Murphy 1944-1946
Robert Montgomery 1946-1947
Ronald Reagan 1947-1952
Walter Pidgeon 1952-1957
Leon Ames 1957-1958
Howard Keel 1958-1959
Ronald Reagan 1959-1960
George Chandler 1960-1963
Dana Andrews 1963-1965
Charlton Heston 1965-1971
John Gavin 1971-1973
Dennis Weaver 1973-1975
Kathleen Nolan 1975-1979
William Schallert 1979-1981
Edward Asner 1981-1985
Patty Duke 1985-1988
Barry Gordon 1988-1995
Richard Masur 1995-1999
William Daniels 1999-2001
Melissa Gilbert 2001–2005
Alan Rosenberg 2005–2009
Ken Howard 2009–2012
Presidents of AFTRA[48]
President Term
Eddie Cantor 1937–1940
Lawrence Tibbett 1940–1946
Ken Carpenter 1946–1948
Bud Collyer 1948–1950
Knox Manning 1950–1952
Alan Bunce 1952–1954
Frank Nelson 1954–1957
Bud Collyer 1957–1959
Virginia Payne 1959–1961
Art Gilmore 1961–1963
Vicki Vola 1963–1965
Tyler McVey 1965–1967
Mel Brandt 1967–1970
Bill Baldwin 1970–1973
Ken Harvey 1973–1976
Joe Slattery 1976–1979
Bill Hillman 1979–1984
Frank Maxwell 1984–1989
Reed Farrell 1989–1993
Shelby Scott 1993–2001
John Connolly 2001–2007
Roberta Reardon 2007–2012
Presidents of SAG-AFTRA[49]
President Term
Ken Howard (Co-president 2012-2013
President 2013-2016)
Roberta Reardon (Co-president 2012-2013)
Gabrielle Carteris 2016–2021
Fran Drescher 2021-present

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Internal Revenue Service. April 30, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Contact Us". SAG-AFTRA. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  3. ^ Whipp, Glenn, SAG Awards 2016: Take that, Oscars -- diversity's the big winner tonight, Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2016
  4. ^ a b US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-391. Report submitted July 30, 2014.
  5. ^ "Unions of the AFL–CIO". AFL–CIO. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  6. ^ "FIA Members". International Federation of Actors. Retrieved June 8, 2023.
  7. ^ "SAG, AFTRA Members Approve Merger to Form SAG-AFTRA" (Press release). Los Angeles: SAG-AFTRA. March 30, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  8. ^ McNary, Dave (January 25, 2013). "SAG, AFTRA merger makes for few bumps". Variety.
  9. ^ SAG-AFTRA, Steps to Join
  10. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-391. (Search)
  11. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-113. (Search)
  12. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-030. (Search)
  13. ^ Verrier, Richard, SAG–AFTRA election reflects fears over actors' pay for online shows, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2015
  14. ^ "Global Rule One | Members Only Work Union Contracts | SAG–AFTRA".
  15. ^ Robb, David (July 17, 2019). "Jane Austin, SAG–AFTRA Presidential Candidate, Has A Plan To Fix A Union That "Has Lost Its Way"". Deadline. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  16. ^ Robb, David (October 18, 2018). "SAG–AFTRA Rescinds Do-Not-Work Order For 'Keys To The City' TV Movie". Deadline. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  17. ^ Smith, Iman (October 22, 2016). "Voice Actors Strike Against Video Game Companies". NPR. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  18. ^ Critical Scope (March 30, 2017), Voice actors Matt Mercer & Marisha Ray discuss SAG–AFTRA Interactive Strike (AnimeMilwaukee), retrieved March 31, 2017
  19. ^ Robb, David (January 24, 2017). "Actors Strike Against Video Game Industry Now Second-Longest in SAG History". Deadline. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  20. ^ McNary, Dave (September 25, 2017). "SAG–AFTRA Video Game Strike Ends After a Year". Variety. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  21. ^ "Nearly 1,000 Denounce Ad Agency BBH at SAG–AFTRA Rally: "Shame on You"". The Hollywood Reporter. January 23, 2019.
  22. ^ "BBH ordered to enter into new SAG–AFTRA contract, ending 10-month strike". July 20, 2019.
  23. ^ McNary, Dave (September 20, 2018). "SAG–AFTRA Calls a Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty". Variety. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  24. ^ (TNS), David Ng Los Angeles Times. "SAG–AFTRA clashes with ad industry over rise in nonunion commercial production". Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  25. ^ Robb, David (September 6, 2018). "SAG–AFTRA Accuses Bartle Bogle Hegarty Ad Agency Of Lying To Actors About Commercials Pact". Deadline. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  26. ^ "Nearly 1,000 SAG–AFTRA Members Picket Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty". September 27, 2018.
  27. ^ McNary, Dave (July 20, 2019). "SAG–AFTRA Ends Long Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty". Variety. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  28. ^ Robb, David (February 7, 2021). "Donald Trump Banned From Ever Rejoining SAG-AFTRA". Deadline. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  29. ^ Yandoli, Krystie Lee (June 27, 2023). "Jennifer Lawrence, A-List Actors Threaten to Strike in Letter to SAG". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  30. ^ Rosie Cordero, Peter White (June 28, 2023). "SAG–AFTRA "Prepared To Strike" Letter Hits 1,000 Signatures, Including Guild President Fran Drescher". Deadline. Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  31. ^ Maddaus, Gene (June 4, 2023). "With DGA Pact in Hand, Industry Focus Turns to SAG–AFTRA Agenda: Self-Taping, Streaming and AI". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  32. ^ Maddaus, Gene; Littleton, Cynthia (June 26, 2023). "SAG–AFTRA and Hollywood Studios Still at Odds Over Higher Residuals for Hit Streaming Shows". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved June 29, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  33. ^ "SAG strike: Avatar and Gladiator sequels look set to be hit as actors walk out". BBC News. July 13, 2023. Retrieved July 14, 2023.
  34. ^ Fuster, Jeremy (July 10, 2023). "SAG–AFTRA Lays Out Strike Rules: No Shoots, No Press, No Social Media Promos". TheWrap. Retrieved July 10, 2023.
  35. ^ Richwine, Lisa (July 18, 2023). "Hollywood studios say they offered actors $1 billion in gains before strike". Reuters. Retrieved July 18, 2023.
  36. ^ "SAG–AFTRA Television, Theatrical, and Streaming Contracts Expire Without a Deal". sagaftra.org. SAG–AFTRA. July 13, 2023. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  37. ^ SAG-AFTRA (July 13, 2023). "SAG–AFTRA Press Conference". YouTube. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  38. ^ a b c Lang, Robert (July 14, 2023). "SAG–AFTRA Strike Photos: Actors Hit The Picket Lines On Day 1". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 14, 2023.
  39. ^ Debusmann, Bernd; Granville, Samatha (July 14, 2023). "SAG strike: Avatar and Gladiator sequels look set to be hit as actors walk out". BBC News. Retrieved July 14, 2023.
  40. ^ Patten, Dominic (November 8, 2023). "The Strike Is Over! SAG-AFTRA & Studios Reach Deal On New Three-Year Contract". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
  41. ^ McNary, Dave (February 13, 2016). "SAG-AFTRA, Telemundo Unionization Battle Heats Up". Variety. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  42. ^ a b Handel, Jonathan (August 29, 2016). "Telemundo Refuses to Air SAG–AFTRA Ad About Language Equity". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  43. ^ Ng, David (August 16, 2017). "Telemundo actors vote overwhelmingly to join SAG–AFTRA". Los Angeles Times.
  44. ^ "SAG–AFTRA And Telemundo Reach Historic Agreement". www.sagaftra.org. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  45. ^ Kilkenny, Katie (October 5, 2021). "SAG-AFTRA, Telemundo Reach Tentative Contract Agreement". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  46. ^ Robb, David (May 5, 2023). "SAG–AFTRA & Other Groups Launch Green Council Initiative To Promote Eco-Friendly Entertainment". Deadline. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  47. ^ a b "SAG Presidents". SAG–AFTRA. Retrieved July 20, 2023.
  48. ^ a b "AFTRA Presidents". SAG–AFTRA. Retrieved July 20, 2023.
  49. ^ a b c About:Sag-Aftra Presidents
  50. ^ Olsen, Mark (March 23, 2016). "Ken Howard, actor and president of SAG-AFTRA, dies at 71". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  51. ^ Rodriguez, Brenda (April 9, 2016). "The actress who played Andrea on '90210' just helped make SAG history". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  52. ^ Maddaus, Gene (September 3, 2021). "Fran Drescher Elected President of SAG-AFTRA, Rival Joely Fisher Wins Secretary-Treasurer". Variety.
  53. ^ "Fran Drescher Reelected SAG-AFTRA President". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  54. ^ "Duncan Crabtree-Ireland Appointed SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator". SAG-AFTRA. Los Angeles. May 26, 2021. Retrieved June 8, 2023.

Further reading

External links