SAG, AFTRA Send Contract Ballots to Membership

The ratification ballots are due back by January 14.

SAG and AFTRA sent contract ratification ballots Friday to their collective membership. They’re due back by Jan. 14. The contract is expected to be approved by a wide margin.

As previously reported, 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.

Yesterday, the DGA national board unanimously approved the tentative deal it reached with the studios Tuesday and will soon send it to the membership for ratification. The return date has not not announced but is expected to be in January.

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

That’s generating concern that, as in previous bargaining cycles, the WGA may not schedule negotiations until March and engage in a brinksmanship strategy in order to seek improvements in areas that SAG/AFTRA did not, such as certain new media and basic cable provisions. The WGA has identified both those areas as priorities, as well as pension and health improvements and workplace issues such as “a deteriorating pitching process.”