Tuesday, June 9, 2009

SAG approves feature-primetime deal

Posted: Tue., Jun. 9, 2009, 8:20 pm CT
SAG approves feature-primetime deal
Members vote 'Yes' on two-year contract
Screen Actors Guild members have ratified a two-year feature-primetime contract with a 78% yes vote, ending a yearlong drama that has left the guild mired in in-fighting and acrimony.
SAG announced the results Tuesday evening, three weeks after sending out ballots to 110,000 eligible members.
The two-year pact has been the source of bitter disagreement for more than a year between moderate leaders -- who approved the tentative deal on April 19 -- and hardliners led by president Alan Rosenberg and his allies on the SAG national board, who denounced the contract shortly after it was announced.
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; it also spells out the pay structure for shows streamed on and made for the Internet. That''s essentially the same deal the companies offered a year ago but which was spurned by hardliners who advocated holding out for richer terms for new-media compensation.
Approval of the deal extinguishes a nagging uncertainty for the business for more than a year. Production on film and TV was thrown off-kilter, first by the WGA strike and then by studios' and nets' fears that SAG might walk out.
SAG's "Yes for Your Future" campaign featured more than a dozen members-only town hall meetings and emphasized the gains in minimums and new-media jurisdiction and argued that the lack of a deal has deprived working actors of an estimated $85 million in pay raises for the past year. Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Sally Field and former president Melissa Gilbert endorsed the deal along with more than 1,200 other members.
The "No for Your Future" campaign contended that the explosive growth of new-media precludes accepting the same template as the WGA, DGA and AFTRA. They've asserted that voting the deal down would force the congloms to offer SAG better terms -- though the congloms had insisted for the past year that they would not sweeten the deal.
Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Melissa Leo, and former SAG president Ed Asner were among the high-profile thesps who opposed the deal.
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