We've Got Hollywood Covered

SAG-AFTRA To Let Members Combine Earnings to Qualify for Health Plan

Some union members haven’t been eligible for coverage because their earnings came under separate union contracts

There was some good news Sunday for members of SAG-AFTRA who have fallen short of qualifying for union health coverage because their earnings were split between SAG and AFTRA contracts.

SAG-AFTRA announced that beginning July 1, 2014, members with earnings under SAG-AFTRA contracts who do not qualify for health coverage under either the AFTRA or the SAG health plan may be able to combine their earnings reportable to each plan in order to meet the dollar earnings requirement for eligibility (currently $15,100).

Also read: DGA Board Approves New Contract With Producers That Offers Wage Increases

This means that beginning with the base earnings period of April 1 2013 through March 31 2014, earnings reported to both may under certain circumstances be combined to meet the dollar threshold to qualify.

The issue has been a sore point for some of the union’s 165,000 members since the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors merged last year. Recent shifts in the industry have resulted in increasing numbers of participants who have sufficient joint earnings, but are not qualifying for either plan.

The effective date of the move, July 1, 2014, July 1, is the date that the new SAG-AFTRA contracts take effect. Those contracts, which have not been negotiated yet, may include merger of the existing SAG and AFTRA TV contracts into a single document, which would render the new guidelines moot.

In a release, SAG-AFTRA said that the move “is only a first step and the SAG P&H and AFTRA H&R Trustees are individually and jointly actively exploring additional options to qualify the greatest possible number of participants for health coverage through SAG-AFTRA work.”

The union added that “both plans are putting special focus on the possibility of creating a single Health Plan. The union will do whatever we can to encourage and support the efforts of the Plans.”

More information can be found on the plan’s web site.