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SAG Board takes step to revive joint bargaining with rival union

February 1, 2010 |  9:00 am

The Screen Actors Guild has moved a step closer toward making peace with its cross-town rival, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

SAG's board voted Sunday to give its leaders authority to "seek engagement" with AFTRA toward resuming joint bargaining of its prime-time TV contract with the smaller actors union, which broke off its longstanding bargaining agreement with SAG nearly two years ago after the two unions clashed over jurisdiction and negotiating strategy.

But a change of leadership at SAG, whose board is now dominated by a group of actors who campaigned on merging the two unions, has eased tensions and renewed interest on both sides in ending the feud.

Acknowledging friendlier times, SAG's board cited its "historically productive negotiating partnership with AFTRA" and authorized SAG President Ken Howard and Executive Director David White to reach out to the sister union, which recently established a committee to study ways of reviving joint bargaining.

If the boards of both unions sign off on the idea as expected, they would begin joint negotiations with the studios in October.

In other action, SAG's board also voted to create a committee to address the "unique concerns and experiences" of actors involved in "performance capture" technology, which has become increasingly widespread in Hollywood, most recently in James Cameron's hit Sci-Fi film "Avatar."  Among the concerns is that actors who deliver performances using motion capture don't always receive union benefits such as residuals and are paid substandard rates.

 -Richard Verrier