SAG-AFTRA board OKs commercials contract

Deal will now be passed on to memberships for approval

As expected, the joint national board of SAG and AFTRA has approved a new tentative commercials contract and will now pass it on to their memberships for ratification. The board met in a video conference Saturday morning to vote on the proposal and made the announcement shortly afterward.

The unions reached the tentative agreement with the JPC, the organization that bargains for the advertising industry, April 1, just hours after the old contract expired. The parties had been negotiating for five and a half weeks before the SAG-AFTRA joint negotiating committee recommended the offer to its board unanimously.

Balloting will take place over the next three weeks, with a simple majority of "yes" votes required for passage.

The new three-year deal, which includes more than $36 million in wage rate increases and about $21 million in increased contributions to the unions' pension and health plans, will run through March 31, 2012, if approved.

The total combined value of the AFTRA and SAG contracts is projected at more than $2.9 billion for working performers, including actors, singers, dancers, choreographers, stunt persons and extras, the unions said.

The new deal also lays the groundwork for a two-year pilot study to test the Gross Rating Points model of restructuring compensation to performers as proposed by Booz & Co.

SAG, AFTRA and the JPC, which championed the new methodology during negotiations, are required to discuss the study’s results by Jan. 3, 2012.

For the moment, SAG and AFTRA have retained the long-standing pay-for-play model of compensation.

Additional terms of the new contract include a cap on annual pension and health care contributions as well as a payment structure for work made for new-media platforms, new monitoring provisions and other improvements for performers in a variety of media.

The successful SAG-AFTRA joint bargaining represented a change from the rancorous relationship that led to the unions parting ways last March on feature-primetime contract negotiations.

AFTRA subsequently signed its own broadcast television contract with the AMPTP in May, while SAG only days ago reached a tentative agreement on a TV-theatrical deal with the AMPTP. SAG's national board addresses that offer Sunday in its own board meeting.

Under the shield of an AFL-CIO-brokered non-disparagement agreement, SAG and AFTRA earlier this year ultimately agreed to bargain together jointly again on the commercials contract only.
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