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SAG-AFTRA Performers Ratify TV Animation Contracts

SAG-AFTRA members have ratified new three-year television animation contracts covering voice actors, the first to tackle the threat of artificial intelligence.

In a ratification vote that ended on Friday, 95.52 percent of members voted to support the Television Animation Agreement and the Basic Cable Animation Agreement deal reached by union negotiators and 4.48 percent voted against the deal. The performers’ union first announced that a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on the contracts had been reached on Feb. 21.

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“The foundation of this agreement was based on the feedback we got from members who work these contracts, and that remained the negotiating committee’s focus throughout bargaining. We are proud to have delivered an agreement that offers big wins in those areas,” TV animation negotiating committee co-chairs Bob Bergen and David Jolliffe said in a statement.

The new deal provides for seven percent wage increases in the first year of the contracts (and retroactive to July 1, 2023), four percent in the second year and 3.5 percent in the third year — the same minimum rate changes that the union achieved in their TV/theatrical deal following their 118-day strike in 2023. On AI, the union secured contractual language that states a “voice actor” can only refer to humans. The contracts also grant certain rights to performers when any digital replica is “recognizable” as them and provides foreign residuals when a voice actor’s work is digitally translated into a foreign language and then exhibited.

The union also gained a promise that producers will secure the consent of performers if they use those performers’ names to prompt a generative AI system into creating a specific synthetic voice. Producers must additionally flag the union and negotiate with them if they use a synthetic voice instead of a voice actor.

The contracts further include the changes to high-budget SVOD residuals and foreign high-budget SVOD residuals that were first secured in SAG-AFTRA’s 2023 TV/theatrical agreement, establish Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Juneteenth as contractual holidays and allow the union to request up to two meetings a year with companies and the AMPTP to discuss paying performers on time.

“This contract represents a meaningful step forward in expanding our A.I. protections,” SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said in a statement. “The contract provides important new terms in the areas of foreign residuals, high-budget SVOD productions, late payments and much more. I am gratified we were able to achieve these significant gains without the need for a work stoppage.”

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