SAG-AFTRA votes to ratify new Netflix deal

SAG-AFTRA members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new deal with Netflix that gives actors more freedom to work on shows on other platforms.

The union announced that 89.03% voted in favor of the agreement, which will last for the next four years.

The union had focused on tackling “exclusivity,” where television actors were generally barred from working on other shows during breaks. Under the new agreement, Netflix must establish a three-month period after each season — “a conflict-free window” — during which actors are allowed to work on any show they want.

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

In a statement, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher called the agreement “historic” and said it came about as a result of a “convergence of leverage opportunities.”

“The advances in reducing exclusivity are groundbreaking,” said Drescher. “The journeyman actor now has the freedom to pursue multiple jobs and make a living with fewer restrictions.”

The union has been pushing for more flexibility for a decade without making any progress. Earlier 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 create scheduling chaos and make it harder to order new seasons of shows.

The legislation gave SAG-AFTRA leverage in their talks and was quickly withdrawn after AMPTP and Netflix agreed to three-month conflict-free windows.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

The Netflix contract also includes adjustments to option periods. Actors have complained that studios have kept them in limbo while deciding whether to make a new season of a TV show. The new agreement stipulates that an option for a new season must be exercised within 18 months of the start of principal photography for the previous season. It also stipulates that filming must begin within three months of receiving the option. Both periods are subject to limited renewals if Netflix pays a penalty.

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