With the 118-day strike finally resolved and a new collective bargaining agreement reached, there’s a lot to digest and figure out how things will move forward. With that in mind, Casting Networks is preparing a series of articles where we’ll break down the individual parts of the new agreement and discuss how it affects you.
One of the primary appeals of being in a union is built-in health insurance. While the WGA’s health insurance is legendary in scope and coverage, SAG-AFTRA has always been admired. Many union members want to get a job to qualify for health insurance as much as any other benefit.
Union pension plans and health coverage
Union members earn pension and health care credits every time they work. The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan, the SAG-Producers Pension Plan, and the AFTRA Retirement Fund are separate entities from the union, but SAG-AFTRA work credits count toward these entities. Again, this is the benefit of a strong union.
The SAG pension plan was first established in 1961, providing a regular pension at age 65 and a subsidized early retirement at age 55 for qualified participants. The AFTRA Pension Fund was first established in 1954, originally between artists and broadcast networks, and later expanded to include people working in the recording and other entertainment industries. It first started paying benefits in 1958.
While much of the public face of the talks focused on artificial intelligence and how to deal with streaming services, data transparency and balances, there was still quite a bit of talk about pensions and health care. AMPTP members must contribute to the fund for both.
With that in mind, and without a significant increase in investment during the last negotiations, the goal was to find a much higher increase this time.
A half-hour TV show is on the rise
The previous ceiling for this investment was $15,000. It has increased by 67% to $25,000 and takes effect on the first Sunday after the date one year after the ratification of the agreement.
Hour-long TV shows are on the rise
This investment grew by about 50% to $35,000 from $24,500. The effective date is the same as for half-hourly payments.
SAG Retirement Plan Vs. AFTRA Pension Fund
The union and AMPTP have agreed to conduct a joint study to explore mechanisms to eliminate the need to shift payments for certain types of films from the SAG pension plan to the AFTRA pension fund.
With the increased contributions made by AMPTP members, there is no concern that anything untoward will happen to either the pension plan or the health fund. While some union members don’t believe all the issues decided are pure gains for SAG-AFTRA, there have been no complaints about the gains made in this category.
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