SAG-AFTRA Announces Furloughs as Part of $96 Million Budget

Jeremy Fuster

SAG-AFTRA announced on Thursday that union employees will be furloughed or have hours reduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a $96 million budget approved by the executive committee.

“Employees whose workloads have been eliminated by the production shutdown will be furloughed until the industry returns to work,” the union said in a statement. “Other employees will be placed on a reduced-hours schedule to correspond to their decreased workload during this time. These measures will be implemented in a manner that takes advantage of available federal and state programs to help replace lost income for affected personnel.”

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The budget includes $5 million from reserve funds and is for the fiscal year beginning May 1. The guild says that the budget “comes amidst financial projections of the industry’s sustained decline in production activity and the subsequent impact on budget. The SAG-AFTRA finance committee unanimously recommended the budget based on revenue preservation moves, including reductions in personnel costs and operating expenses.”

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said, “Our duty to our members and our obligation as stewards of the organization is clear. With this budget, thoughtful, responsible, and strategic decisions have been made that align operating expenses with our projected revenues in a time of extraordinary industry disruption. Now, as always, our top priority is the protection of our members.”

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SAG-AFTRA national executive director David P. White added, “In the face of an unprecedented global pandemic that has brought the economy and our industry to a virtual standstill, we must take the steps necessary to protect our membership and the financial strength of the union. This budget strategically responds to the severe challenges in the current business climate while ensuring we can emerge with strength to protect members when they return to work in the future.”

The budget release also comes as SAG-AFTRA continues negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new contract for its members, which total more than 160,000. While the guild already reached a separate deal with Netflix last year, it is uncertain how much that contract or the one agreed to earlier this year by AMPTP and the Directors Guild will be able to serve as a benchmark considering the difficult economic circumstance brought about by the pandemic.

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