California Governor Signs Bill Ensuring Benefits to Resident Entertainment Workers Employed in Other States

California Governor Gavin Newsom Sept. 5 signed into law a bill that starting in January will ensure full access to unemployment insurance, state disability insurance and paid family leave benefits for California-resident entertainment industry workers who work on productions that take them to other states.

The bill, SB 271, was co-sponsored by the California IATSE Council and the Entertainment Union Coalition.

“On behalf of the California IATSE Council and the Entertainment Union Coalition, we want to express our appreciation to Senator Scott Wiener for his leadership in guiding SB 271 through the legislative process, to Governor Newsom for signing the bill into law, to our 12 co-authors, and to the members of the California Legislature for their unanimous support,” read a statement from the California IATSE Council and Entertainment Union Coalition. “SB 271 ensures that the working women and men of the entertainment industry will have access to the UI, SDI, and PFL benefits to which they are entitled. We can now protect thousands of our members and their families who depend upon these benefit programs, often in times of great need and economic stress because they are unexpectedly or suddenly out of work, disabled as a result of an injury or illness, or are responsible for the care of family members.”

SB 271 resolves a long-standing problem specific to residents of California who work in the motion picture and television industry on productions that shoot in other states in addition to California, according to the California IATSE Council and the Entertainment Union Coalition. Previously, outdated metrics implemented in the 1950s were used to determine where their employment taxes would be credited. Often that was to other states. When it came time to claim their benefits, many California entertainment industry workers found their benefits were far lower than they should have been and, in some cases, nonexistent. SB 271 resolves this problem and will bring financial and emotional relief to the thousands of California based entertainment industry workers who need and deserve the benefits to which they are entitled.

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The California IATSE Council represents more than 50,000 members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. They work in all forms of motion picture and television production, live theatre, television broadcasting, sports broadcasting, trade shows, exhibitions, and concerts as well as equipment and construction shops that support all areas of the industry. The council, formed to support public policy that supports working families, is comprised of 17 local unions each of which represents one or more craft areas.

The Entertainment Union Coalition has a combined membership of close to 150,000 members in California. Its members are the California IATSE Council, Laborers Local 724, SAG AFTRA, and Teamsters Local 399.

SAG-AFTRA Approves Historic Deal with Netflix

Netflix is one of the world’s largest producers of movies and TV shows. As a subscription streaming video distributor, how the service’s productions fit into the traditional Hollywood labor equation sometimes left more questions than answers.

Now, SAG-AFTRA, the union representing film and television actors, journalists, radio personalities, recording artists, singers, voice actors and other media professionals, has approved a contract with Netflix covering all live-action productions.

The first-of-its-kind deal between the union and SVOD pioneer recognizes “motion capture” technology as covered work and includes coverage of dubbing, which applies to Netflix’s foreign-language live-action and animated motion pictures dubbed into English.

“Netflix recognizes the value of working with SAG-AFTRA members, and the contributions we make in this global industry,” Gabrielle Carteris, SAG-AFTRA president, said in a statement. “I am gratified that this groundbreaking deal achieved longstanding member goals in particular the recognition of performance capture work, and other important improvements that members want and deserve.”

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Netflix, which has operated under the union’s standard labor agreement, also follows its own “Respect at Netflix” work program that put an emphasis on gender, race and sexual orientation equality in the workplace and on movie and TV show productions.

The new agreement with SAG-AFTRA sets minimum salary and turnaround provisions to all Netflix programs; concessions for consecutive employment for guest stars and day performers employed on episodic series; how to pay residuals for movies produced under the union’s theatrical contract that are exhibited on Netflix.

In addition, stunt performers will no longer have adjustments made in determining eligibility for overtime for episodic productions. The deal also puts new limitations on advancing pay residuals.

“We are pleased that we were able to work with SAG-AFTRA to address these issues unique to Netflix’s production needs and we commend SAG-AFTRA leadership for its creative approach,” added Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.