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June 10, 2009

SAG approves new actor contracts…finally

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/sag_approves_new_actor_contractsfinally_20090610/

After deeply divided negotiations that went on a full year after actor contracts expire last June, the Screen Actors Guild has finally settled on a new contract. Unsurprisingly, SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg, whom I profiled last March, called the contract “devastatingly unsatisfactory” for its failure to improve compensation on the internet.

He’s still a one-man band trying to chart a course the majority of SAG’s 120,000 members do not want to travel.

But at least, for now, the crippling stalemate is over. Of course, because of their mishigas, SAG’s contracts will expire out of step with the other lead unions (AFTRA, Writers Guild, Directors Guild) precluding any chance of a unified force against the studios.

From Bloomberg:

Members of the Screen Actors Guild approved the agreement with 78 percent of the votes cast in favor, the union said today in an e-mailed statement. The accord, which runs through June 2011, excludes retroactive pay increases for the time since the last contract expired on June 30, 2008.

The vote is a defeat for union hardliners who sought a tougher stance in negotiations. The studios exploited the rift to limit the guild’s advances on pay and jurisdiction for shows made for the Internet. Talks for the new agreement began after directors, writers and producers concluded their negotiations, leaving actors with little leverage.

“If we’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that we’re stronger when we’re unified,” Ned Vaughn, head of Unite for Strength, a faction that supported ratification, said before the results were made announced. “That means working in partnership with the other unions.”

The contracts provide more than $105 million in wages, pension contributions and other benefits for actors, the guild said.

The agreement with the studio bargaining group, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, sets rates for work performed on the Internet, provides a 3 percent increase in minimum pay in the first year and 3.5 percent in the second year.
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“The members have spoken,” Guild President Alan Rosenberg, who opposed ratification, said in an interview after the results. “Now we’ll live under the terms of this contract and see if they’re as devastating as I think they will be.”

Rosenberg said he would start discussions with other unions to plan for unified talks in 2011.

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