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SAG and studios reach tentative deal

April 17, 2009 | 12:33 pm

Negotiators for the Screen Actors Guild and the major studios have reached a tentative agreement on a new two-year contract for the union's 120,000 members.

Sources close to the talks say the union's negotiating task force will be briefed today on the proposed agreement, which is expected to be voted on by SAG's 71-member national board on Sunday.

Actors have been working without a contract for nine months as previous attempts at negotiations with the studios collapsed.

The contract contains some minor improvements over previous offers but is largely similar to the one studios presented to SAG nine months ago. That is certain to raise questions about what the union  accomplished by holding out so long to secure a deal after other talent unions secured their own contracts with the studios.

The agreement was hashed out after weeks of back-channel talks involving between SAG interim executive director David White and top media executives, principally Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger and Warner Bros. chairman  Barry Meyer.

Talks were revived after the union's former chief negotiator was ousted by moderates who took control of SAG's board in elections last year.

The breakthrough came earlier this month when the sides reached a compromise over the most contentious issue: the expiration date of a new contract. SAG leaders insisted that their new contract run through June 2011 so that the union could line up its next round of negotiations with the expiring contracts of other Hollywood talent unions. The studios, however, wanted a three-year term, which would push SAG's contract expiration into 2012.

-- Richard Verrier


 

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