ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

SAG-AFTRA reveals terms of ‘groundbreaking’ deal

Nov 11, 2023, 7:00 AM

SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree Ireland speaks during a ...

SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree Ireland speaks during a presser on November 10, reveals specifics of a new labor deal with Hollywood studios Friday that they said included groundbreaking raises, benefit increases and protections around artificial intelligence. (CNN)

(CNN)

Originally Published: 10 NOV 23 18:44 ET
Updated: 10 NOV 23 19:51 ET

New York (CNN) — Actors union SAG-AFTRA revealed specifics of a new labor deal with Hollywood studios Friday that they said included groundbreaking raises, benefit increases and protections around artificial intelligence.

The actors union had reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday with the major film and television studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, to end their historic strike.

Eighty-six percent of the union’s national board voted to approve the tentative agreement that the negotiating committee reached with the AMPTP, chief negotiator and national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said Friday.

The terms of the deal still need to be ratified by union members before they can take effect. The voting period will begin Tuesday and go on until the first week of December –- a typical 21-day period, Crabtree-Ireland said. The union said it will hold informational sessions for members in the coming weeks as they vote for the contract.

He said the contract includes $1 billion in new wages and benefit plan funding and a participation bonus for actors on successful streaming shows. Union president Fran Drescher said the deal has a 7% raise in most minimum payments.

There are also “successful minimum compensation increases that break the so-called industry pattern and help our members keep up with the harm that’s been caused by inflation,” Crabtree-Ireland said.

There will be a background actor wage increase of 11% effective immediately.

Artificial intelligence and synthetic performers

For the first time, the contract includes consent and compensation guardrails for artificial intelligence. Studios will have to provide informed consent for the creation of any kind of digital replica of a performer or background actor, with a specific description of the intended use, the union officials said. Compensation for the replica will vary.

Notably, the contract also protects background performers from any use of their digital replica without their consent, SAG leadership said.

Negotiations over using AI to create synthetic performers continued down to the wire. Union leadership said studios will have to gain consent for any actors whose facial features are used for the AI performer, the studios have to inform actors they’re using AI, and the union can bargain over compensation for those affected by it.

Drescher said that AI protections were “a dealbreaker.”

There will also be increased pension and health caps for the union’s benefit plan and funds.

The union said there will be appropriate hair and makeup services for all performers.s. There will also be requirements for intimacy coordinators for scenes requiring nudity or stimulated sex.

The strike had shuttered the industry for nearly four months. After midnight on Thursday, union actors were allowed to resume work.

SAG-AFTRA had joined the Writers Guild of America in a historic double strike against the studios — the first time writers and actors had simultaneously been on strike in more than 60 years. Members of the WGA ratified their deal on October 9.

The union did not immediately reveal the terms of the deal when it was announced, but called the scope of the billion-dollar deal “extraordinary.”

What the Writers Guild voted to ratify

Members of the WGA ratified a new contract with Hollywood and television studios with 99% of its members voting in favor. The writers strike ended on September 27, making the time period between the tentative deal and ratification roughly two weeks.

As part of the deal, most writers’ minimum pay will immediately increase 5%, followed by a 4% increase in May 2024 and then another 3.5% increase in May 2025. Health fund contributions will increase by a half percentage point to 12% of companies’ reportable earnings. And writers working on the same script will no longer need to split pension and health contributions.

Some writers were concerned about the growth of streaming, because they lost out on residuals that traditional television shows paid when they were re-run. Initial compensation and residual pay for big-budget streaming projects will increase as part of the new contract.

The deal also includes assurances that AI cannot write or rewrite literary material and will require AI-generated materials to be disclosed to writers.

– CNN’s Oliver Darcy, Samantha Delouya and Taylor Romine contributed to this report.

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SAG-AFTRA reveals terms of ‘groundbreaking’ deal