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SAG and Producers Reach Deal, Board Gives OK

Sunday update: SAG National Board approves new contract by 53% vote

Updated Saturday at 12:30 pm:

 

Hollywood’s year-long slowdown may finally be coming to an end.

 

Nine months after their TV and film contract expired, Hollywood’s biggest union, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced Friday that they had reached a tentative deal for a new contract.

 

And Saturday morning, the guild along with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists unanimously approved new contracts covering conditions for the shooting of commericals, worth about $36 million in additional payments.

 

The new contract, struck with a joint policy committee for the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, adds $21 million to health and pension funds, and provides a new structure for commercials for the Internet and other new media.

 

That payment structure kicks in only in the third year of the contract.

 

In a statement AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and AFTRA Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee said: “Our new agreement is a major achievement in any economy, but it is especially crucial for union members working to make ends meet in today’s difficult marketplace.

 

Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg said: “I am pleased and gratified to have achieved these gains and to recommend this agreement for ratification.  I congratulate all of the parties, and particularly the co-chairs, committee members and staff on the remarkable gains they achieved for actors across the country.”

 

Meanwhile, SAG and the AMPTP said details of their deal will not be disclosed until members of the guild’s national board review the terms on Sunday during a previously scheduled videoconference in New York and Los Angeles.

It seems likely that the national board will approve the agreement and send it to the membership for ratification.

 

SAG’s Interim National Executive Director David White solidified the new agreement with individual studio CEOs, including Disney President Bob Iger and Fox President Peter Chernin, while the guild’s chief negotiator, John McGuire, headed negotiations for the union’s commercials contract.

 

A SAG board member close to the negotiations told TheWrap earlier this month that the new deal resolves the issue of whether a new contract will expire in 2011 or 2012 — the major sticking point that ended the last round of talks in February. At that time, the AMPTP warned SAG that it would revise the terms of its “last, best and final” offer if the union did not accept the offer within 60 days.

“I’m optimistic that that is going to let us ultimately reach a deal that the national board will approve and the members will ratify,” the board member told TheWrap. “But there’s stuff that has to play out before then, and the Membership First partisans are going to fight this.”

Although SAG’s rank-and-file members are weary from almost a yearlong stalemate with the AMPTP — during which 66 of 70 pilots signed with sister union AFTRA — it’s expected that the hardline faction Membership First will attempt to convince its fellow members not to acquiesce to the residuals negotiated by the more moderate arm, Unite for Strength.

 

That faction, headed by SAG 1st Vice President Anne-Marie Johnson, supports National President Alan Rosenberg and former NED Doug Allen, whom Unite voted out earlier this year.

 

Allen and Rosenberg took a hard stance against the AMPTP, vowing to fight for better terms for New Media and DVD residuals. The  majority faction of the Guild, Unite for Strength, advocates a more moderate approach that includes accepting the residuals set out in the “last, best and final” offer — the same terms AFTRA, the WGA and the DGA accepted last year. 

 

Also Friday, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and AMPTP tentatively settled on a new three-year Area Standards Agreement that will affect around 8,000 IA members across the nation.

 

"I am pleased that during these extremely difficult economic times we were able to achieve a solid agreement with the producers that will provide continuing stability and protect the well-being of IATSE members in the areas covered by this contract," IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb said in a statement.

 

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SAG and AFTRA released the following details of their newly-ratified commercials contract: 

Highlights of the new agreement include:

•    Three-year agreement, term effective April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012, upon ratification by members of both unions.
•    5.5% overall increase in wages and other compensation over the life of the contracts, including a 4.43% increase, effective April 1, 2009, in Class A, Wild Spot, and basic cable session and use fees.
•    For product moved over to the Internet or in New Media, compensation of 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 weeks of use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use.
•    For product made for the Internet or New Media, a new minimum rate structure of 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 weeks of use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use, effective in the third year of the contract.
•    0.5% increases in the employer contribution rate to the AFTRA H&R and SAG P&H plans, and a 0.2% increase in employer contributions to the SAG Industry Advancement Cooperative Fund and the AFTRA-Industry Cooperative Fund, bringing the total contribution rate to 15.5%. Effective in year three, the agreement provides for a cap on P&H and H&R contributions for services covered by the contracts to $1 million per performer, per contract, per year with anticipated net gains in P&H and H&R over the term of the contract.
•    Secured five new covered jobs for commercial extras, up from 40 to 45.
•    Established new exclusivity compensation for made-for cable only commercials.
•    Instituted, for the first time, a contract provision to pay extras a round-trip mileage fee of $8.
•    Increased foreign use payments under the Spanish Language section of the contract.
•    The across the board increase under the AFTRA Radio Commercials Contract is 5.35%, in addition to contributions to AFTRA H&R and the AICF.
•    All of the unions’ proposals regarding diversity issues were addressed in the negotiations.