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What You Need to Know About the New SAG-AFTRA Agreement: Pensions & Health Insurance

With the 118-day strike finally resolved and a new collective bargaining agreement obtained, there is a lot to digest and understand about how things will be moving forward. With that in mind, Casting Networks is producing a series of articles in which we will break down particular parts of the new agreement and discuss how it affects you.

One of the primary appeals of being in a union is the built-in health insurance. While the WGA’s health insurance is legendary for its scope and coverage, SAG-AFTRA’s has always been similarly admired. Plenty of union members want to get work as much to qualify for health insurance as for any other benefits.

Union Pension Plans and Health Coverage

Union members earn credits toward retirement and health care each time they work. The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan, SAG-Producers Pension Plan and AFTRA Retirement Fund are separate organizations from the union, but the points one accrues through SAG-AFTRA work counts toward these entities. Again, this is the benefit of a strong union.

The SAG Pension Plan was first instituted in 1961, providing a regular pension a the age of 65 and a subsidized early retirement pension for qualified participants at 55. The AFTRA Retirement Fund was first created in 1954, originally between artists and broadcast networks and was later expanded to include people working in sound recording and other entertainment industries. It first started paying benefits in 1958.

While most of the public face of the negotiations focused on artificial intelligence and how to deal with the streaming services, data transparency and residuals, there was still a fair amount of conversation about the pension and health plan. The members of the AMPTP must contribute to the fund for both.

With that in mind, and with no meaningful raises in contributions in recent negotiations, the goal was to find a much higher raise this time around.

Half-Hour TV Show Increases

Previous ceilings for these contributions were $15,000. That has risen by 67% to $25,000 and is effective the first Sunday after the date occurring one year after the agreement is ratified.

Hour-Long TV Show Increases

This contribution went up nearly 50% to $35,000 from $24,500. The effective date is the same as with the half-hour contributions.

SAG Pension Plan Vs. AFTRA Retirement Fund

The union and the AMPTP have agreed to conduct a joint study to explore mechanisms to obviate the need to shift contributions for certain types of motion pictures from the SAG Pension Plan to the AFTRA Retirement Fund.

With the increase in contributions by the AMPTP members, there is no concern of anything untoward happening to either the retirement plan or health fund. Whereas some union members do not feel that all decided issues are pure wins for SAG-AFTRA, there have been no voluble complaints about the gains achieved in this category.

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