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SAG negotiations: options dwindling?

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With the June 30 expiration of its contract looming, the Screen Actors Guild is still without a deal while their peers at the American Federation of Television Radio and Artists (AFTRA) are preparing to ratify their new agreement with the conglomerates. Citing concern that a ratified AFTRA deal could be detrimental to their negotiation efforts, SAG, the larger actors’ union, has requested that AFTRA delay ratification until it can reach a deal of its own.

“We believe that the tentative AFTRA deal and its pending ratification, coming as it does within several days of SAG’s June 30 contract deadline, is a distraction that the employers are using to delay significant progress in our negotiations,” wrote SAG President Alan Rosenberg on the union’s website. “Delaying ratification of the AFTRA contract could benefit all actors. AFTRA members, too, would benefit by increased leverage in our negotiations and through any favored nations clauses SAG might be able to achieve that would provide improvements in the AFTRA deal.”

The request was met with a unanimous rebuke by AFTRA’s national board, which discovered that SAG may try to stymie AFTRA’s ratification efforts. AFTRA’s primetime TV dramas and situation comedies include Rules of Engagement, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Til Death. Since more than one-third of AFTRA’s  70,000 members also hold a SAG card, the belief is that SAG may attempt to sway those dual-card holders to postpone ratification of the deal. AFTRA’s agreement, which was reached on May 28, promises, among other improvements, increases in base pay and residuals for Internet downloads. It should take at least three weeks for members to ratify it.

“By the time the results of our ratification vote are announced, SAG

will have been back at the table with the employers for more than five

weeks,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon in a letter to

members. “We believe this provides sufficient time to allow SAG and the

AMPTP [Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers] to focus on negotiations and hopefully reach a mutually

satisfactory conclusion.”

What now? SAG will attempt to rally its troops today with a morning

rally at its national headquarters in Los Angeles. The union, which

represents nearly 120,000 actors, maintains there are several issues

yet to be resolved with the conglomerates, including improvements on

DVD residual pay, actors’ consent for product integration, and guild

coverage for all new-media programming. SAG is also seeking a boost in

mileage reimbursement, something it hasn’t achieved in 30 years,

according to its website.

“By the time the results of our ratification vote are announced, SAGwill have been back at the table with the employers for more than fiveweeks,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon in a letter tomembers. “We believe this provides sufficient time to allow SAG and theAMPTP [Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers] to focus on negotiations and hopefully reach a mutuallysatisfactory conclusion.”

What now? SAG will attempt to rally its troops today with a morningrally at its national headquarters in Los Angeles. The union, whichrepresents nearly 120,000 actors, maintains there are several issuesyet to be resolved with the conglomerates, including improvements onDVD residual pay, actors’ consent for product integration, and guildcoverage for all new-media programming. SAG is also seeking a boost inmileage reimbursement, something it hasn’t achieved in 30 years,according to its website.