SAG-AFTRA votes to ratify new Netflix contract

SAG-AFTRA members voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with Netflix that allows actors more freedom to work on shows on other platforms.

The union announced that 89.03% voted in favor of the agreement, which is expected to cover the next four years.

The union had been focused on tackling “exclusivity,” whereby TV actors generally can’t work on other shows during break periods. Under the new deal, Netflix will have to designate a three-month period after each season, “a conflict-free window,” during which actors can work on any show they want.

The provision was part of the tentative agreement reached on August 2 and served as a model for a similar agreement the union reached two weeks later with the Alliance of Film and Television Producers, which represents the other studio employers in collective bargaining.

In a statement, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher hailed the deal as “historic” and said it came about because of a “convergence of opportunities to seize.”

“Advances in reducing exclusivity are critical,” Drescher said. “The official actor now has the freedom to work multiple jobs and make a living with fewer restrictions.”

The union has been pushing for more flexibility for a decade, without making any headway. This year, the union sponsored a bill in Sacramento, AB 437, that would have eliminated exclusivity entirely. The Motion Picture Association opposed the legislation, arguing that it would lead to scheduling chaos and make it difficult to order new seasons of shows.

The legislation gave SAG-AFTRA leverage in their talks and it was quickly withdrawn after AMPTP and Netflix agreed to three-month conflict-free windows. Netflix recently joined the AMPTP and going forward, its contracts will be negotiated on the same cycle as the AMPTP agreements.

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The Netflix contract also includes adjustments to option periods. Actors have complained that studios have kept them in limbo while they decide to make a new season of a TV show. The new deal calls for an option for a new season to be exercised within 18 months of the start of principal photography for the previous season. It also mandates that once the option is chosen, filming must begin within three months. Both periods are subject to limited extensions if Netflix pays a fine.

More details can be found here.

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