SAG-AFTRA Joint Board Approves Studio Deal

SAG board also okays live-action cable TV and two animation contracts.



The boards of SAG and AFTRA meeting jointly Saturday morning approved by about 89% to 11% the recently-achieved tentative TV/theatrical deal with the studios, the unions announced. The decision was expected.

Later that day, the SAG board meeting alone overwhelmingly approved the tentative basic cable live action, basic cable animation and television animation contracts (94%-6% for the first and 96%-4% for the latter two). These agreements were negotiated by SAG alone.

Ballot materials for the TV/theatrical contract will go out this week, according to a source, with a return date to be set for mid-January. Ratification requires a simple majority, and is all but assured.

Ballot materials for the basic cable live action contract will go out in late January, with an early February return. Here too, ratification requires a simple majority, and is considered almost certain.

The two animation contracts are smaller in dollar value, and were ratified directly by the SAG board.

The three-year TV/theatrical deal includes 2% annual wage increases and a one-time 1.5% increase in employer contributions to the pension and health plans, as well as a shift from first-class air travel to new rules favoring business class and coach. The basic cable deal mirrors these provisions.

The overwhelming approvals reflect the dramatic shift in SAG politics over the last several years. In the last negotiating cycle, SAG and AFTRA negotiated separately, and, while AFTRA reached a timely deal, SAG worked without a contract for about a year.

The unity this time bodes well not just for the industry, but also for union leaders’ attempts to merge the two unions, a task that is expected to move to center stage in 2011.

Across town, the DGA continues to meet with the AMPTP, with no news as to whether a deal is imminent.

Regarding the SAG/AFTRA deal, informational meetings for members will be scheduled in select cities across the country including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Florida, Washington, D. C.-Baltimore, San Francisco and Atlanta.

The current SAG, AFTRA and DGA contracts expire on June 30, 2011. The WGA ontract expires two months earlier, on May 1, but no talks have been scheduled yet.