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Screen Actors Guild board narrowly OKs new contract

The Screen Actors Guild board of directors, moving a step closer toward resolving a nine-month stalemate with the studios that rattled Hollywood's nerves and roiled its largest entertainment union, narrowly approved a new film and TV contract for its members this afternoon.

In a split vote reflecting ongoing fissures within the union, the board voted 53% in favor of a new two-year contract that is largely modeled on one forged last year by other Hollywood talent guilds. Approval was expected because the board is now controlled by the union's moderate wing.

The recession, a series of strategic missteps and sparring with a smaller actors union undercut SAG's bargaining leverage, leaving it unable to deliver the contract gains it had earlier vowed to achieve. But hardliners who dominated SAG’s board when contract talks with the studios began last year were subsequently overturned in elections.

Among other things, the contract provides for pay increases of 3.5% a year and establishes payments for shows streamed over the Web. The contract, however, does not give actors rerun fees, known as residuals, for most shows created for the Internet, a sore point among critics, including SAG President Alan Rosenberg, who voted against the agreement.

Rosenberg staunchly backed former Executive Director Doug Allen, who was fired by the board in January. The board accused Allen of bungling contract talks and leading a costly war against rival actors union American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which peacefully negotiated its own contract last year.

In his place, the board tapped David White as interim executive director and John McGuire, who acted as the chief negotiator in the latest round of talks.

In order to be ratified, the contract must be approved by a majority of members in a vote that will occur in the next four to five weeks. Actors have been working without a contract since June 30, 2008.

-- Richard Verrier

Comments () | Archives (3)

Just get it done already.

It's about time level heads prevail. While hardworking American jobs are disappearing, the unemployment rate soaring, the economy goes to hell, the actors have had the gall to virtually shut down the industry affecting hundreds of thousands of other production-related jobs over a contract that actually is giving them a raise?!!! People just want to work right now...even if they made less. But SAG shut this city down for nearly a year because a 3% raise wasn't good enough? Meanwhile, studio stocks have plummeted, but yet they never lowered their original offer.

Hollywood is so out of touch, and actors are so damn selfish. Los Angeles is pretty much a one industry town - like Wall Street is to NY's prosperity - and for one self-centered faction to have caused all this financial carnage is an abomination against common sense and completely out of touch with what's been going on in the rest of the country. Alan Rosenberg should be in jail. He's no better than Bernie Madoff.


Favored Nations may have precluded this, but
It's time to draw a line in the sand.

If it's not this contract, IT'S A MANDATORY 1ST DAY DEMAND NEXT DEAL.
I will vote this down, as will many others, unless a specific Internet residual plan is known and ready to be implemented.


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