SAG board endorses studio deal

LOS ANGELES The tentative deal, which includes pay raises and other compensation hikes, follows the Internet provisions earlier agreed to by writers, directors and another actors union and will expire on June 30, 2011.

That expiration date, one of the final points of contention in negotiations, means SAG's contract will expire around the same time as other unions, maintaining the future threat of a joint strike.

"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," the Guild's interim national executive director David White said in the statement released after the deal was approved by a 53 percent vote.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Hollywood producers, praised the Guild's directors' endorsement.

"With this agreement in place, our entire industry can work together to overcome the enormous economic challenges before us," the group's spokesman Jesse Hiestand said in a statement.

The agreement, which was first outlined Friday, would give the union's 120,000 members a 3 percent wage increase upon ratification and a 3.5 percent increase in the two-year agreement's second year, the guild said.

Members would also get a 0.5 percent pension and health contribution increase.

SAG had sought improvements on provisions covering shows that rerun online on sites like CBS Corp.'s and, a joint venture of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal and News Corp.'s Fox. Seeking such improvements were a key part of the writers' strike that shut down production for 100 days early last year.

But the Guild eventually gave up trying to improve on a deal other unions, including the 70,000-member American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, had already accepted, especially after internal elections last fall shifted control to a moderate group.

AFTRA ratified its prime-time TV deal with the studios last July after it broke off joint talks with SAG for the first time in nearly 30 years.

AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said in a statement Sunday that she commends the SAG board "for its leadership in approving and recommending this contract for ratification by their membership."

Ballots will be mailed to eligible Guild members in early May and are expected to be due back at the end of that month, the union said.



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