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June 10, 2009

SAG Ratify TV/Theatrical Agreements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Screen Actors Guild Members Overwhelmingly Ratify TV/Theatrical Agreements


Los Angeles, (June 9, 2009)Screen Actors Guild announced today that members have voted overwhelmingly to approve its TV/Theatrical contracts by a vote of 78 percent to 22 percent.
 
The two-year successor agreement covers film and digital television programs, motion pictures and new media productions. The pact becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. June 10, 2009 and expires June 30, 2011.
 
The contracts provide more than $105 million in wages, increased pension contributions, and other gains and establishes a template for SAG coverage of new media formats.
 
Approximately 110,000 SAG members received ballots of which 35.26 percent returned them – a return that is above average compared with typical referenda on Screen Actors Guild contracts. Integrity Voting Systems of Everett, WA, provided election services and tonight certified the final vote tally upon completion of the tabulation.
 
The vote count in the Hollywood Division was 70.70 percent to 29.30 percent in favor. In the New York Division, the vote count was 85.74 percent to 14.26 percent in favor. And in the Regional Branch Division, the vote count was 89.06 percent to 10.94 percent in favor.
 
Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg said, “The membership has spoken and has decided to work under the terms of this contract that many of us, who have been involved in these negotiations from the beginning, believe to be devastatingly unsatisfactory. Tomorrow morning I will be contacting the elected leadership of the other talent unions with the hope of beginning a series of pre-negotiation summit meetings in preparation for 2011. I call upon all SAG members to begin to ready themselves for the battle ahead,” Rosenberg added.
 
Screen Actors Guild Interim National Executive Director David White said, “This decisive vote gets our members back to work with immediate pay raises and puts SAG in a strong position for the future. Preparation for the next round of negotiations begins now. Our members can expect more positive changes in the coming months as we organize new work opportunities, repair and reinvigorate our relationships with our sister unions and industry partners, and continue to improve the Guild’s operations.”
 
Screen Actors Guild Chief Negotiator John McGuire said, “I want to thank the SAG members and staff who dedicated their time to the negotiations process. We emerged with a solid deal that the members have now voted up. The negotiating team worked tirelessly, building on the work of the first negotiating committee, to deliver these improvements to members.”
 
Screen Actors Guild began talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on April 15, 2008.  Guild Chief Negotiator John McGuire, Interim National Executive Director David White, and Deputy National Executive Director for Contracts Ray Rodriguez, working with a 10-person negotiating task force comprised of Screen Actors Guild board members and officers representing the three divisions, reached the tentative agreement on April 16, 2009 after 12 months of periodic negotiations with the motion picture studios and television networks.
 
For further information on the new contract, including the full text and a summary of the agreement, click here <http://www.sag.org/tvtheatrical-negotiations> .  

ACTORS RESPOND TO CONTRACT RATIFICATION

Tony Shalhoub, actor
“This is a great decision for SAG and I’m so appreciative of everything the new leadership is doing to put the Guild back on track. They’ve obviously got the right ideas for making SAG stronger.”

Stephen Collins, actor
“This contract passed because members knew it was time to take advantage of the gains our negotiators won and get back to work. On top of that, they understood that risking our ability to negotiate alongside AFTRA and the other unions in the 2011 negotiations would have been a huge mistake.  It’s a great day for SAG.”

Sam Freed, actor, 2nd National Vice President
“This decision by the membership marks the end of a very long process.  We can now move forward with a new sense of certainty.”

Sue-Anne Morrow, actor, National Board Member representing New York
“This is a good deal with good gains. SAG’s members clearly agree. It’s about time we got a raise. I’m so pleased that SAG’s members exercised their right to be heard and said ‘Yes!’.”

Mike Hodge, actor, National Board Member representing New York
“I am extremely pleased that we have finally come to the close of a long, unproductive period. I am hopeful that we can heal our wounds and really start the work to become a unified, national union.”

Nancy Duerr, actor, National Board Member representing SAG Florida Branch
“This is a victory for SAG performers across our region. Stalled and delayed productions can now get underway, boosting our local economies. This contract not only puts more money in members’ pockets, it preserves the high standards of working conditions our members have come to expect.”

Todd Hissong, actor, Chicago Branch President, National Board Member
“By passing this referendum, Chicago members have sent a clear message that we want to get back to work. Screen Actors Guild members across the country have yet again demonstrated our grasp of the issues, the importance of unionism, and our need to stand together with our sister unions to make deals that benefit us all.”

David Hartley-Margolin, Colorado actor, SAG 3rd Vice President
“The membership always has the last word when it comes to contract matters. They have spoken. Their endorsement of the deal with the AMPTP ends the uncertainty that has been hovering over us and allows Screen Actors Guild and the industry to move forward together.”

June 3, 2009

SAG – AFRTRA RATIFY AGREEMENT

 

SAG-AFTRA Ratify Advertising Agreement; SAG Townhall Features Fireworks (May 22, 2009)

 

SAG and AFTRA announced yesterday that their combined paid-up membership, about 132,000 members, overwhelmingly ratified the contracts between the unions and the advertising industry. The result was expected, as there was no organized opposition. About 28% returned their ballots, about typical. Of those voting, about 94% voted yes. The deals expire March 31, 2012.

The news from the TV/theatrical side is nowhere near as placid. The ballots went out a few days ago—they’re due back June 9—and SAG’s conducting a series of town hall meetings across the country. The first was last night in Hollywood, and the fur flew. About 600 people attended according to a staff count; although the crowd was reportedly 70% composed of hardline Membership First partisans, they didn’t manage to fill the room. That’s a bit surprising. I’d expected an overflow crowd, given their (apparent?) strength in Hollywood.

What they slightly lacked in numbers, they made up in volume and conviction, according to sources inside the room. Fellow MF-ers like SAG President Alan Rosenberg were applauded for their statements against ratification, while pro-contract voices such as SAG interim National Executive Director David White were booed. The approximately three-hour confab kicked off with statements from the dais, and was mostly taken up by member questions and comments, which were described as overwhelmingly anti-ratification.

That dais, by the way, included SAG Secretary/Treasurer Connie Stevens, chief negotiator John McGuire, White, SAG 1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson (who chaired the meeting), Unite for Strength leader Ned Vaughn, UFS-er Stacey Travis, Deputy NED Ray Rodriguez, and Rosenberg. General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland responded to questions from time to time.

According to Vaughn, Rosenberg was asked at the meeting what he proposed the union do if it voted down the deal. Rosenberg apparently replied that the union should get a strike authorization and then, if necessary, strike. How he expects to conjure up the necessary 75% vote for a strike authorization is unclear. In contrast to that high hurdle, it only takes 50% + 1 (a simple majority) to ratify the deal.

More colorful speakers at the meeting were Ed Asner and Seymour Cassel. Asner compared the contract’s effect on actors to “taking the Jews out and shooting them,” leading one audience member to comment that he hadn’t expected Holocaust metaphors at a SAG meeting. Well, why not? SAG politics seem to know no bounds.

Cassel, for his part, spotted former SAG president Melissa Gilbert, a moderate, and, standing at the mic, referred to her dismissively. Cassel later responded to one of David White’s comments by saying “bullshit.” This was understandably too much for Johnson, as chair of the meeting, and she ordered Cassel to leave. Out in the hallway, Cassel told me that “I tend to speak my mind, perhaps too candidly.” That certainly seems true.

Another notable out in the hall was Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on the original Star Trek. We chatted briefly about the Star Trek movie, not SAG politics, let alone Trekian essays about SAG politics. There was also a Jack Nicholson lookalike, wearing a snappy suit, white shoes, and tinted eyeglasses. Maybe it was Jack Nicholson, but somehow I wouldn’t expect to see him aimlessly wandering the halls at a SAG meeting and using the hotel ATM.

David White chatted for a bit after the meeting, and explained the contrast between his reaction to the studios’ February offer (it “sucks,” he said at the time) and the current one (“a good deal with solid gains,” he told me yesterday, and, in the context of the economy and the dragged out negotiating process, even a “fantastic” one). The key difference is the contract expiration date, which in the current deal is synchronized with the WGA, AFTRA and DGA (mid-2011). In the February deal, it wasn’t, and the significance is that synchronicity allows at least some of the unions to make common cause and present a united front when the contract is up.

White previously predicted the deal would pass, so this time I asked whether he thought it would pass in Hollywood. (That’s not necessary for passage, but it would give some signal of a reduction in divisiveness within the union.) He predicted it would, citing the strong messages of support he was receiving from Hollywood members (though not at the meeting), but noting judiciously that “members will vote their conscience.”

Ned Vaughn also told me the deal would pass, both in Hollywood and nationally. He pointed to the importance of consolidating gains and negotiating in solidarity with other unions, especially AFTRA, in 2011. I asked if he thought SAG and AFTRA would be merged by 2011, and he replied that he “would love it if they were.”

A contrasting post-meeting voice was MF stalwart and SAG board member Clancy Brown, who explained his opposition to the deal in more measured terms than Asner and Cassel had used. He argued that “there’s a better deal out there to be had,” and cited “the paltry Internet move over residual” and the “larcenous” force majeure settlement as reasons.

The day before, I spoke with 2nd VP Sam Freed, who is president of the New York board, and separately with board member Mike Pniewski of Atlanta, both supporters of ratification. The latter predicted the deal will pass, and commented that the guild “got the best deal we can.” He cited a variety of positive aspects of the deal, and underlined the need for “stability in the marketplace” for labor.

Freed pointed to the estimated $105 million value of the deal, and said it addresses “the plight of the middle class actor.” He emphasized that the level of concern MF expresses over new media was not supported by current figures: of $1.3 billion in SAG earnings in 2008, Freed told me only 0.05% came from new media. (That’s one-twentieth of one percent, not 5%.) Alluding to the opposition, he quipped “There’s a guy who would be complaining if it was raining vegetable soup and he only had a fork in his hand.”

In other union news, Variety reports that 85 year-old actor Theodore Bikel “has been re-elected to an 11th two-year term as president of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America.” The 4-A’s, as it’s known, is in turn a unit of the AFL-CIO. Its affiliates are AFTRA, SAG, Actors’ Equity and several smaller performers unions: American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA), and the Guild of Italian American Actors. AFTRA has a direct charter with the AFL-CIO, awarded last year. The other unions are chartered with the 4-A’s, as far as I know, and derive their AFL-CIO affiliation that way (as did AFTRA prior to 2008).

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Variety: SAG, AFTRA mail out ballots: Members to Vote on New Commercials Pact (MAY 1, 2009)

 

SAG, AFTRA mail out ballots

Members to vote on new commercials pact

By DAVE MCNARY

 

SAG and AFTRA have launched their campaign to persuade about 150,000 members to approve the new commercials pact in what’s expected to be an easy ratification.

The unions mailed out the ratification ballots Thursday, followed by an email message Friday that disclosed plans for holding informational meetings in 18 cities. Ballots are due back by May 21.

Unlike the SAG feature-primetime contract, no opposition’s yet emerged to the commercials deal — which has received unanimous backing from the joint negotiating committee and the joint boards of the two unions.

“We believe this is a good and fair contract and we urge you to vote yes,” said SAG president Alan Rosenberg and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon at the conclusion of a letter to members. The letter was also signed by SAG interim national exec director David White and chief negotiator John McGuire along with AFTRA topper Kim Roberts Hedgpeth and chief negotiator Mathis Dunn.

Rosenberg has been fighting ratification of SAG’s deal, mainly on grounds that its new-media provisions fall short. Ballots for the SAG pact go out May 19 with a June 9 return date.

The commercials deal represents a $36 million pay hike in the first year of the contract and a $24 million increase in pension and health contributions over the pact’s three years. It also preserves the current pay-per-play Class A residuals structure while providing for a pilot study on new compenasation model based on ratings.

The commercials pact, which covers nearly $1 billion in annual blurb work, will be retroactive to April 1 and run through March 31, 2012. SAG and AFTRA staged a bitter six-month strike in 2000 against the ad industry, but the tough economic times plus a shift in control of SAG’s national board to a more moderate faction last fall provided strong indications that a commercials strike was unlikely.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118003084.html

DIGITAL MEDIA LAW: SAG TV/Theatrical Ballots Later Than Expected; SAG Litigation Continues; and More (APR. 29, 2009)

 

Digital Media Law

 

SAG TV/Theatrical Ballots Later Than Expected; SAG Litigation Continues; and More

Posted: 29 Apr 2009 02:19 AM PDT

The ballots for SAG’s recently approved TV/theatrical contract won’t be going out until mid to late May, a source tells me, several weeks later than the early May target that the Guild stated as recently as a week or so ago. That means that ratification, if achieved as expected, will not come until early to mid June, since balloting is expected to be a three week process.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that writing the pro and con statements has only just begun. That process takes a week, and then another week is allowed for rebuttal statements to be written.

(BTW, a copy of the proposed TV/theatrical agreement is available here. I’ve not yet done an analysis, but in the meantime you can read SAGWatch’s.)

Meanwhile, ballots for the commercials contract will be mailed to both SAG and AFTRA members Thursday, and due back May 21, reports Variety. It’s expected to pass easily. In contrast, the TV/theatrical contract will probably pass with a yes vote in the 60%-75% range, roughly in the neighborhood of the AFTRA deal, which achieved 62%. Only a simple majority (i.e., just over 50%) is required.

In other SAG news, Unite for Strength revealed in a Facebook email several days ago that the force majeure compromise is 33 cents on the dollar. “Force majeure” refers to arbitration claims on behalf of about 500 actors for a portion of wages lost due to the 2007-2008 Writer Guild strike. The claims amount to about $63 million, and, thus, the total settlement is about $21 million. I’m told SAG members will get checks several weeks after the agreement is ratified.

That settlement amount—33 cents on the dollar—is on the low side, but that was a tradeoff. SAG wants its contract to expire in mid-2011, to synch up with the WGA, AFTRA, and DGA. That’s an issue created by the ten-month delay that the hardline Membership First faction inflicted on the union; without the delay, the deals would have synched up as a matter of course. To get synchronicity at this late date, SAG had to give something up.

Remember also that the claims are under arbitration. SAG could have gotten zero cents on the dollar if the arbitration had proceeded; or it could have prevailed altogether. With that much uncertainty, a settlement in the 50% range might have been expected. That would have yielded a total of about $31 million, rather than $21 million. So, it’s a reasonable conclusion that SAG gave up about $10 million in order to get the synchronized expiration date—and prompt payment to the affected members.

The Guild also had to agree to modify the TV-related force majeure language in a way that reduces the likelihood of future force majeure claims. To put this in context, though, I’m told there has never been an industry-wide force majeure claim before. The studios obviously want to avoid seeing one again, not only to reduce their costs, but also to decrease the strength by which SAG members would support a writers strike in the future. (In other words, if actors have to bear the entire cost of their own lost wages, they may be less likely to enthusiastically support a strike by a sister union.)

Speaking of lost wages, I also have a couple of factoids on the SAG layoffs: the total number of people laid off was 36 (not 35, as previously reported), with an additional 26 unfilled positions that will remain unfilled. That’s a total reduction in force of 62 positions, and the annual savings to the Guild is $2.5 million in salaries ($4 million if bonuses and other factors are included).

Moving from lost wages to lost causes, there are developments in the lawsuit filed against SAG by the union’s own president, Alan Rosenberg, and his fellow Membership First plaintiffs 1st VP Anne-Marie-Johnson and board members Diane Ladd and Kent McCord. That suit, as you may rather have forgotten, seeks to unseat the TV/theatrical negotiating task force, as well as interim National Executive Director David White and Chief Negotiator John McGuire. That group—plus the commercials negotiating committee—is the team that managed to close two deals in as many months, while MF closed nothing at all over several years.

The lawsuit, in my opinion, hasn’t got a Popsicle’s chance in hell. After all, what judge is going to unwind a twice-ratified union leadership change? Incredibly, the lawsuit proceeds on not one but two tracks, since there are now both a trial court action and a concurrent appeal. Rosenberg’s and his co-plaintiffs’ solicitude for the members apparently includes spending their money on pointless multi-pronged litigation—understandably, since abandoning the litigation before this summer’s SAG election would be no boon to MF’s election prospects. Indeed, if MF ever wins control of the Board again, you can expect a motion to have SAG reimburse Rosenberg et al. for their no doubt considerable litigation costs.

In any case, there are developments on two fronts. In the trial court, SAG filed its Answer to the plaintiffs’ first amended complaint. A variety of defenses are asserted, including that the complaint is moot (because the SAG Board re-fired the previous NED, Doug Allen, at a meeting, after having first done so by a written assent document), interferes with the union’s right of self-governance, and is barred by the wrongful acts of Rosenberg and his co-plaintiffs (this presumably refers to the 28-hour filibuster over which Rosenberg presided in an attempt to prevent Allen from being fired).

Meanwhile, in the Court of Appeal, Rosenberg & co. filed their Appellant’s Opening Brief several days ago, accompanied by multi-volume, multi-hundred page appendices of documents. The arguments are simply a rehash of the arguments Rosenberg and his co-plaintiffs made in the trial court–which were rejected not only by the trial court judge, but also in an earlier appeal. Yes, the current appeal is actually the second, and the case is only three months old.

What next? As the name implies, the Appellant’s Opening Brief is the first brief in the appeal. The next few weeks will see the filing of the respondent’s brief (SAG’s brief) and the reply brief (in which Rosenberg et al. get to reply to SAG’s brief). Then comes oral argument, unless the court decides to proceed based on the briefs alone (which I think the court has the right to do, but I’m not sure).

For those who find appellate work dry and lifeless (it’s all briefs and legal arguments, with no witnesses or jury), the trial court action will grind on as well, doubtless with demurrers, a motion to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, depositions, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and all of the other costly accoutrement of modern-day litigation. Actually, that’s pretty dry and lifeless too. This could go on for months, providing amusement to everyone except SAG’s accountants. As in entertainment, so too in litigation: the show must go on.

———————

Daily Variety: Opponets ~ SAG could lose vote Members to weigh in on feature-primetime deal (MAR. 23, 2009)

 

Opponents: SAG could lose vote

Members to weigh in on feature-primetime deal

By DAVE MCNARY

 

Opponents of SAG’s tentative feature-primetime deal have declared that guild members will vote the pact down — as long as the turnout rate’s higher than the traditional 30%.

“The more people that we can get to vote, the better chance we have to get this voted down,” said Scott Wilson, organizer of a last-minute antiratification rally Thursday. “I think we have a real chance to defeat this if we can get the information out to the members.”

About 60 opponents attended the picketing outside the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. Attendees included national board member France Nuyen, Tom Bower and David Jolliffe, who headed SAG’s negotiating committee before it was abolished in January.

It’s uncertain what would happen if the deal went down to defeat, although opponents contend that such a move would force the congloms to offer SAG better terms in new media. The AMPTP’s insisted that SAG has to accept terms that are equivalent to those in the WGA, DGA and AFTRA deals and emphasized the final offer’s generous amid the current recession.

“We are the last man standing,” Wilson said of SAG. “The other unions have all rolled over.”

Wilson’s staged about a dozen rallies since the board replaced the negotiating committee and fired Doug Allen as national exec director out of frustration over his failure to close a deal. Ballots will go out early next month to SAG’s 120,000 members, with a return date three weeks later.

SAG’s national board approved the tentative deal Sunday by a narrow margin, with 53% backing the pact as the moderate side prevailed. Jolliffe admitted that SAG members are “war-weary” of the issues but agreed with Wilson’s forecast of a defeat.

“If we can get above 30%, we’ll defeat it,” Jolliffe added.

New York board member Paul Christie disagreed with that assessment.

“When the film version of Marat/SAG is greenlighted, they will serve as the Greek chorus howling at the moon and praying for a strike somewhere in the universe,” Christie said. “They are alone in their belief as usual.”

The antiratification forces, which include SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg and former president Ed Asner, are planning a May 3 rally at Griffith Park.

In SAG’s previous contract ratification vote in 2005, 76% of thesps who voted endorsed the deal despite opposition from the hardline Membership First faction. About 30%, or 35,000 members out of 119,000, returned ballots.

Membership First, Rosenberg and Allen tried unsuccessfully to derail AFTRA’s ratification of its primetime deal last summer — contending that it fell short in new media and a wide variety of other areas — after the sister union split from joint negotiations with SAG. The contract received backing from 62% of those voting, although AFTRA’s refused to disclose how many of its 70,000 members voted.

Proponents of the SAG deal have already emphasized that ratification will dispel the uncertainty that working without a contract has caused and tweaked Rosenberg and Allen for deleveraging SAG by alienating AFTRA. SAG’s deal includes a 3.5% annual hike in minimums — a 3% salary hike in the first year plus a 0.5% gain in pension and health contributions in the first year and a 3.5% salary increase in the second.

Allen’s replacements — David White as interim national exec director and John McGuire — were able to persuade the AMPTP to relent on its demand for a full three-year deal, keeping the expiration date of June 2011 in line with those for the DGA, WGA and AFTRA pacts.

Link – http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118002789.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2562

From AFTRA themselves (APR. 23, 2009)


April 2009

Joint AFTRA and SAG National Board of Directors Approves New Commercials Contracts for Ratification

Meeting by videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York, the Joint SAG-AFTRA National Board today voted unanimously to approve and recommend to members, new three-year successor agreements to the 2006 AFTRA Television and Radio Commercials Contracts and the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Television Commercials Contract.

The proposed agreements, which cover performers working in commercials made for and reused on television, radio, the Internet, and new media, will net a three-year increase in payments to performers totaling an estimated $36 million, including approximately $21 million in increased contributions to the SAG Pension & Health and AFTRA Health & Retirement plans. 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.

Additionally, the new contracts contain an agreement in principle outlining terms for a pilot study for the purpose of testing the Gross Rating Points (GRP) model of restructuring compensation to performers as proposed by Booz & Co. The two-year study will be conducted by a jointly retained consultant engaged by the unions and the industry. The study will be paid for by grants from Screen Actors Guild-Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund (IACF) and the AFTRA-Industry Cooperative Fund (AICF).

The unions also successfully established a first-ever payment structure in commercials for the Internet and other new media platforms. The unions established jurisdiction over commercial work made for the Internet in 2000, and new media formats in 2006. The new payment structure goes into effect in the third year of the contract.

The referendum will be mailed to the members of both unions next week (dual SAG and AFTRA members will receive one ballot) with a return date in mid-May. Results will be announced at that time.

Following the vote, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and AFTRA Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee said: “Our new agreement is a major achievement in any economy, but it is especially crucial for union members working to make ends meet in today’s difficult marketplace. I applaud the vision and hard work of the joint committee who worked together to win increases both in performers’ minimum compensation and in employer contributions to our health and pension plans, and who successfully preserved Class A payments so critically important to our members around the country.”

Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg said: “I am pleased and gratified to have achieved these gains and to recommend this agreement for ratification. I congratulate all of the parties, and particularly the co-chairs, committee members and staff on the remarkable gains they achieved for actors across the country.”

“It’s a solid agreement with meaningful gains,” said Screen Actors Guild Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee Sue-Anne Morrow. “There are significant improvements in compensation and benefits for union commercial actors and it gives the industry, including our members, a measure of financial certainty in an uncertain economy. It also guarantees advertisers continued access to the finest actors in the world on whose talent their brand success often rests. It’s a win for actors, a win for the industry, and a win for consumers.”

Screen Actors Guild Chief Negotiator John McGuire, a veteran of more than 10 separate commercials contracts negotiations said: “This is an agreement we can all be proud of and I look forward to ratification by the members of Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. I commend the negotiating committee chairs, co-chairs, and members, along with my colleagues Ray Rodriguez, Screen Actors Guild’s Deputy National Executive Director of Contracts, and Mathis Dunn, AFTRA’s Chief Negotiator.”

“This is a successful conclusion to a challenging negotiation, conducted during a difficult economic and technological time in the industry. As always, that success rests with the members of our joint committee, our staff and our counterparts at the Joint Policy Committee. Together, we served the interests of actors and the industry,” McGuire added.

AFTRA Assistant National Executive Director Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., who served as AFTRA Chief Negotiator, noted: “I commend all of our union members who participated in the many educational, informational, and wages and working conditions meetings leading up to these negotiations. They delivered a clear message to our joint negotiating committee on their priority issues. I am proud to say that we delivered on these priorities and much more. The agreement will enhance the careers of all working performers today, and protect future generations of union members as technology and consumer tastes shift in the radically changing world of new media.”

Highlights of the new agreement include:

Three-year agreement, term effective April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012, upon ratification by members of both unions.
5.5% overall increase in wages and other compensation over the life of the contracts, including a 4.43% increase, effective April 1, 2009, in Class A, Wild Spot, and basic cable session and use fees.
For product moved over to the Internet or in New Media, compensation of 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 weeks of use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use.
For product made for the Internet or New Media, a new minimum rate structure of 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 weeks of use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use, effective in the third year of the contract.
0.5% increases in the employer contribution rate to the AFTRA H&R and SAG P&H plans, and a 0.2% increase in employer contributions to the SAG Industry Advancement Cooperative Fund and the AFTRA-Industry Cooperative Fund, bringing the total contribution rate to 15.5%. Effective in year three, the agreement provides for a cap on P&H and H&R contributions for services covered by the contracts to $1 million per performer, per contract, per year with anticipated net gains in P&H and H&R over the term of the contract.
Secured five new covered jobs for commercial extras, up from 40 to 45.
Established new exclusivity compensation for made-for cable only commercials.
Instituted, for the first time, a contract provision to pay extras a round-trip mileage fee of $8.
Increased foreign use payments under the Spanish Language section of the contract.
The across the board increase under the AFTRA Radio Commercials Contract is 5.35%, in addition to contributions to AFTRA H&R and the AICF.
All of the unions’ proposals regarding diversity issues were addressed in the negotiations.
AFTRA and SAG joint member education and informational meetings will be conducted around the nation to provide members with an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the new agreements prior to voting.

Formal negotiations between the 26-member AFTRA/SAG Joint Negotiating Committee and the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) began on February 23 and concluded on the morning of April 1 in New York City.

About AFTRA
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audiobooks, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet, and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society.

About SAG
Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 actors who work in film, television, industrials, commercials, video games, music videos and other new media. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles.

VARIETY: SAG PR BATTLES BEGINS: GUILD MEMBERS TO GET PITCHES, BALLOTS (APR. 22, 2009)

 

SAG PR battle begins

Guild members to get pitches, ballots

By 

 

Supporters of SAG’s tentative feature-primetime deal are appealing to the guild’s middle-class actors — and blaming the hardliners for the delay — as the first salvos start in what’s expected to be a bitter battle over ratification of the pact.

Ballots will go out early next month, with a return date three weeks later; specific dates are not yet set. In a message sent Wednesday to New York members, SAG second VP Sam Freed contended the pact will dispel the pervasive ambiguity that’s dogged showbiz since SAG’s master contract expired nearly 10 months ago.

“Ratification will not only guarantee increases in terms and conditions but it will end the uncertainty that working without a contract has caused,” Freed said. “Production can gear up once again, and we can get back to work. The recent changes that your board has made are bearing fruit.”

Freed’s message is a clear swipe at opponents of the pact, led by SAG president Alan Rosenberg and the Membership First Coalition, who have insisted for the past year that SAG has to achieve sweeter terms than the other Hollywood unions — particularly in new media. Rosenberg’s repeatedly criticized the board moderates for failing to present a unified voice during the negotiations.

A moderate coalition gained control of the national board from the hardliners in the fall, fired Doug Allen as SAG topper in January for allegedly botching the negotiations and endorsed the new deal Sunday with 53.6% support. Freed noted that Allen’s replacements — David White as interim national exec director and John McGuire — had been able to persuade the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers to relent on its demand for a full three-year deal, keeping the expiration date of June 2011 in line with those for the DGA, WGA and AFTRA pacts.

“Because of the prolonged period of these negotiations, this contract has a term of only two years,” Freed said. “This was a hard-fought concession that will allow our contract to expire with our sister unions and permit the option of joint negotiations in the future.”

Meanwhile, the deal’s opponents are gearing up their antiratification campaign with a rally today outside the AMPTP headquarters, followed by a gathering at a yet-to-be-determined location during the May 2-3 weekend.

The proponents will likely point to the loss of an estimated $67 million in actor pay gains as a result of Membership First’s refusal to accept the AMPTP’s offer last summer.

Freed said the gains achieved in the deal go directly to the needs of the middle-class actor amid the recession.

“Raises in minimums, increases in major-role performer premiums and the increases in residuals for primetime series reruns represent real dollars in members’ pockets,” he said. “There is a 0.5% increase in pension and health contributions bringing the total contribution to 15%, a gain made even more significant given the state of our economy and the hits our funds have taken. Jurisdiction is awarded in new media with the establishment of a residual structure. A residual formula is created for movie and television downloads that represents an increase over the DVD formula.”

SAG’s deal includes a 3.5% annual hike in minimums — a 3% salary hike in the first year plus a 0.5% gain in pension and health contributions in the first year and a 3.5% salary increase in the second. AFTRA’s three-year deal, unsuccessfully opposed last summer by Rosenberg and Membership First, contains similar provisions but with an addititional year of increases.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118002748.html

DAVE MCNARY

Message from SAG’S NY DIVISION PRESIDENT SAM FREED (APR. 22, 2009)


Message from SAG’s New York Division President Sam Freed

Dear New York Guild Member,

There were two significant events this past weekend that will affect the
lives of New York actors and Guild members across the country.

On Saturday at a meeting of the joint board of SAG and AFTRA, there was a vote to send a proposed Commercials contract to our joint membership for ratification. This marks the conclusion of a successful effort of both our unions to negotiate together for the benefit of all of us. The proposal will come to you with a unanimous approval of the joint negotiating committee and a recommendation to vote “YES” from both institutions. Details of the contract will be provided with your ballot that you will receive in a few weeks.

On Sunday at a meeting of the SAG National Board, there was a vote to send a proposed TV/Theatrical contract to SAG members for ratification. This marks the end of an extended negotiation that has left us working without a contract since July 1 of last year. This contract will come to you with a recommendation to vote “YES” from both the Board and the recently constituted Negotiating Task Force that helped bring these negotiations to a conclusion.

You will receive detailed information about this contract along with your ballot. But in short the gains achieved go directly to the needs of the middle class actor. Raises in minimums, increases in major role performer premiums and the increases in residuals for primetime series reruns represent real dollars in member’s pockets. There is a .5% increase in pension and health contributions bringing the total contribution to 15%, a gain made even more significant given the state of our economy and the hits our funds have taken. Jurisdiction is awarded in New Media with the establishment of a residual structure. A residual formula is created for movie and television downloadsthat represents an increase over the DVD formula.

Because of the prolonged period of these negotiations this contract has a term of only two years. This was a hard fought concession that will allow our contract to expire with our sister unions and permit the option of joint negotiations in the future.

Lead Negotiator and Guild Senior Advisor John McGuire deserves much credit for getting these negotiations back on track and making improvements from the deal that was presented back in June of last year. David White, our new Interim NED, was instrumental in getting the AMPTP to move off their position of the term of the contract. The membership owes them much for their efforts.

Ballots for this contract will be sent20out in early May. You will have opportunities to learn more about the contract in consideration of your vote. Ratification will not only guarantee increases in terms and conditions but it will end the uncertainty that working without a contract has caused. Production can gear up once again and we can get back to work.

The recent changes that your Board has made are bearing fruit. We continue to move forward.

In
Solidarity,

Sam Freed
New York Division President

DIGITAL MEDIA LAW: SAG BOARD APPROVES STUDIO DEAL (APR. 20, 2009)

Digital Media Law
Monday, April 20, 2009
SAG Board Approves Studio Deal
 

Voting on party lines, a sharply divided SAG board approved the tentative deal with the studios yesterday by a vote of about 53% to 47%. The deal now goes to the membership for ratification, with a bruising fight promised by the hardline MembershipFirst faction. Ratification is nonetheless expected, and will mark an end to an almost ten month Hollywood stalemate.

Ballots will go out to the members in early May and will be due back three weeks later. The balloting material will be accompanied by both pro and con statements, and the fight over the deal will be a prelude to SAG’s presidential and board elections, which will commence in July and run through September. Current SAG president Alan Rosenberg has come out in opposition to the deal, while Ned Vaughn, leader of the moderate Unite for Strength group, told Variety that he favored a yes vote.

Although the deal is expected to be ratified, it won’t achieve the over 90% thumbs-up that the Writers Guild deal did last year. An approval in the 60%-70% range seems more likely, given that the AFTRA deal last year achieved only 62%, as a result of an ultimately futile anti-ratification campaign conducted by SAG.

Details and analysis of the deal are available here, and below are press releases from SAG, AFTRA (a rival actors union) and the AMPTP (the alliance representing the studios).

On a personal note, I had a surreal experience outside yesterday’s board meeting. As I talked to a board member who discussed his/her vehement opposition to product integration (a form of product placement, and an issue on which the new contract gives nothing to actors), another board member walked up and handed me a can of energy drink. I looked over and saw a marketing truck painted to look like a can of the drink and blaring rock music. In other words—product placement at SAG’s own board meeting! A bit of a surprise.

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SCREEN ACTORS GUILD NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPROVES TENTATIVE TELEVISION AND MOTION PICTURE CONTRACTS AND RECOMMENDS RATIFICATION

Los Angeles (April 19, 2009) – The Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors today voted 53.38 percent to 46.62 percent to approve and recommend to members, new, two-year successor agreements to the 2005 Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement and 2005 Screen Actors Guild Television Agreement.

The proposed agreement, covering actors in motion pictures and television delivers 3.5% effective annual increases comprised of a 3% wage increase and a .5% pension and health contribution increase upon ratification, and a 3.5% wage increase in year two.

The board passed the below motion shortly after 4:00 p.m. today:

It was moved and seconded that the National Board directs the Interim National Executive Director to send the tentative agreement between the Producers represented by the AMPTP and the Screen Actors Guild for successor agreements to the 2005 Producer–Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement and the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Television Agreement to the membership for ratification, with a recommendation from the Board to vote ‘Yes.’
Approved: 53.38% –46.62%

“I urge members to carefully review both the pros and cons in the referendum materials, and exercise their right to vote,” said Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg.

Interim National Executive Director David White said: “We are pleased that Screen Actors Guild members will soon be voting on a deal for television and motion pictures. We’re eager to get our members back to work and to focus now on the challenges ahead, particularly on initiating a comprehensive effort to thoughtfully plan for the future.

Our negotiating committee, task force and professional staff have worked countless hours on this agreement over the last year. On behalf of the National Board, I thank them for their time, commitment and expertise.”

Chief Negotiator John McGuire stated: “This tentative agreement delivers increased contributions to the SAG pension plan, increased minimums, a significant gain in background actor numbers from 50 to 55 over the term of the contract, and it tracks the new media provisions achieved by other entertainment industry unions. The term of the agreement puts SAG in sync with the other unions, and does not include the extended term recently proposed by the AMPTP.”

Provisions of the proposed deal include:
• A two-year term of agreement concluding June 30, 2011.
• Effective annual increases comprised of 3.0% in wage increases and .5% in pension contributions upon ratification, and a 3.5% wage increase one year following ratification.
• A new media structure that tracks those achieved by other industry unions, resulting in gains for actors including:
o Jurisdiction on all derivative, made-for new media productions; automatic jurisdiction on all high-budget, original, made-for new media productions; plus jurisdiction on low budget original, new media productions that employee at least 1 covered performer.
o Residuals for exhibition of TV and Theatrical motion pictures on consumer pay platforms (Electronic Sell Through) at a greater percentage than those paid for DVD distribution.
o Residuals for ad-supported streaming of feature films and television programs.
o Residuals for derivative new media programs.
• Additional 5 covered background actors in feature films. From 50 to 53 covered background positions upon ratification of the contract, and from 53 to 55 covered background positions in year 2. Adds 1 covered background position in TV, from 19 to 20, upon ratification.
• Increased compensation for guest star premium from 7.5% to 10%.
• Increased trailer money break from $2,500 to $3,000, or more per week.
• Increased overtime money break for three-day performers from $2,700 to $3,000.
Ratification ballots will be mailed to eligible SAG members in early May, with an expected return date at the end of the month. Tabulation will occur immediately upon the conclusion of balloting.
Bargaining for a successor agreement to the 2005 SAG TV/Theatrical Contract began on April 15, 2008.

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AFTRA Statement Regarding New Screen Actors Guild Film and Television

Agreement


The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists issued the following statement by President Roberta Reardon regarding the announcement that the Screen Actors Guild National Board has approved a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new SAG film and television contract.


“AFTRA congratulates our sister union, Screen Actors Guild, on its new tentative agreement with the AMPTP. I applaud the SAG Negotiating Task Force for bringing a strong contract to the SAG National Board for approval, and I commend the SAG National Board for its leadership in approving and recommending this contract for ratification by their membership.”


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Statement by the AMPTP


The new AMPTP-SAG agreement is the eighth major labor agreement reached by AMPTP since the start of 2008 and the 312th such agreement in AMPTP’s 27-year history. Because both sides were willing to compromise we now have an agreement that will provide SAG members with meaningful wage boosts, pension increases, first-class health benefits, and a complete set of new media rights and residuals. With this agreement in place, our entire industry can work together to overcome the enormous economic challenges before us.

http://digitalmedialaw.blogspot.com/2009/04/sag-board-approves-studio-deal.html

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