Actors Unions to Vote on New Contract!
From a LA Times Staff Writer
January 30, 2005
Directors of Hollywood’s two actors unions recommended to their members Saturday a new labor agreement, with studios providing a 9% pay increase over three years but no boost in the share of DVD revenues actors receive.
Members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists must vote by mail next month to ratify or reject the deal.
On Saturday, 71.4% of the unions’ board members voted to recommend, with 28.6% against. Opponents will be allowed to include their arguments in the contract information mailed to members.
Studios and actors reached agreement Jan. 20 on the $200-million pact, averting a potential production slowdown. Although the current contract doesn’t expire until June 30, uncertainty over a possible strike this summer could have caused studios to cancel projects.
About 140,000 performers, including film and TV actors, stunt coordinators, dancers and background actors, are affected by the contract.
You’ll notice that the misleading information about the minimums from SAG’s Press Release continues to be published as fact, even though they are untrue. Unfortunately, when it comes to our unions the local media readily accepts the propaganda handouts without any scrutinizing on their part. They are little more than propaganda peddlers!
A.L. Miller Editor & Chief
Oh, by the way, for the record the contract minimums are 2.25/3/3 (8.25%) NOT the claimed 3/3/3 (9%)
Stay tuned to the Ol’ Watchdog to learn how those great purveyors of democratic principles, Melissa and Connolly, used their legal mouthpieces to get a Minority Report watered down to a pro/con statement!
SAG, AFTRA JOINT BOARD RECOMMENDS TV/THEATRICAL DEAL
Membership Referendum Process to Begin on February 7
Los Angeles (January 29, 2005) A joint board of Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) today voted 71.4 percent to 28.6 percent to officially approve and recommend to its joint membership a new three-year TV/Theatrical deal reached on January 20 with studios and networks.
Following the vote, SAG President Melissa Gilbert and AFTRA President John Connolly issued the following joint statement: “The joint board today affirmed the recommendation of our Negotiating Committee to send this package valued at $200 million the richest in our unions’ history out to the members for ratification. Ultimately, the members must analyze the package, review the pros and cons, and assess the environment in which this deal was made. That is as it should be, since it is their working lives that are at issue. Our goals, and those of the members on our Negotiating Committee, were to bargain the best deal possible and keep actors working uninterrupted for another three years. We are very proud to have accomplished what we set out to do on behalf of working performers.”
Among the elements of the deal are:
Increased wages for every category of performer
Partnership with writers and directors to promote new scripted programs over reality TV
Most significant expansion of jobs and wages for background actors in 13 years
Protected residuals for WB, UPN actors
Increase in residuals for made-for-pay TV
Higher wages/better safeguards for stunt coordinators
Major increases in employer contributions to pension and health plans
Continuity of health benefits for series regulars whose shows are canceled
Greater protections for dancers, and health and pension coverage for choreographers
Acknowledgement and respect for performers with disabilities
In the interest of open and honest debate, and on the recommendation of Presidents Gilbert and Connolly, the joint board also approved the inclusion of pro and con statements of equal length in the referendum materials.
Ballots will be mailed to members on February 7 and must be received at the designated post office box no later than February 28.
SAG, AFTRA leaders OK contract
By Jesse Hiestand
A joint board of SAG and AFTRA leaders has approved their newly negotiated contract by a solid margin and offered to let opponents of the deal express their views on the ballots in the upcoming member referendum.
The board voted 71.4%-28.6% on Saturday to accept the deal and recommend that members do the same. Ballots will go out Feb. 7 and must be sent back by Feb. 28.
In approving the package, SAG president Melissa Gilbert and AFTRA president John Connolly said that the deal reached Jan. 20 with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers was worth about $200 million during the three-year period, making it the richest in the unions’ history.
“Ultimately, the members must analyze the package, review the pros and cons and assess the environment in which this deal was made,” Gilbert and Connolly said in a statement. “Our goals and those of the members on our negotiating committee were to bargain the best possible deal and keep actors working uninterrupted for another three years. We are very proud to have accomplished what we set out to do on behalf of working performers.”
Still, the contract was tentatively accepted on a 17-9 vote, reflecting the concerns of some negotiators about the terms. Those members will now get an opportunity to express their views and urge the measures’ defeat in a “con statement” on the referendum ballot.
It was decided at Saturday’s meeting that the “con statement” will be of equal length as the language used to endorse the deal. Gilbert and Connolly already had vowed to support the presentation of opposing views, though sources said the opponents were unhappy that they did not have an opportunity to include a full “minority report,” which would leave the ballot with a series of statements and rebuttals, likely delaying the referendum.
Critics of the deal say it did not get better terms on DVD residuals and waived members’ rights to residuals on certain early reruns of new television series. They have blasted the proposed contract as “premature, short-sighted and hastily negotiated,” largely because the current deal does not expire until June 30.
These same opponents, who are principally based in SAG and routinely challenge the policies of Gilbert and SAG national executive director Bob Pisano, attempted to derail the one-year contract extension last year, but the measure was approved by an 87.4% margin among members of SAG and AFTRA — and by a 82.5% margin within SAG’s Hollywood division.
If the contract were to be rejected by members, it would force negotiators for the unions and AMPTP back to the bargaining table and immediately disrupt feature film and television production because of the possibility that union actors could go on strike.
Instead, SAG/AFTRA leaders will encourage members to accept the contract because, among other features, it increases wages for every category of performer, expands jobs and wages for background actors, increases residuals for made-for-pay-TV projects, protects residuals for actors on the WB Network and UPN and brings in about $60 million in additional health and pension fund contributions.