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Screen Actors Guild overwhelmingly approves new contract

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It’s been a long time coming, but finally the 100,000 plus members of the Screen Actors Guild have a new contract today. The votes were counted last night on a new two-year deal with the big studio producers, which covers, “…film and digital television programs, motion pictures and new media productions,” according to an announcement on the SAG website.

Around 110,000 ballots went out to SAG members — and about 35 percent were returned. In the final tally, an overwhelming 78 percent voted in favor and only 22 percent against. This contract kicks in immediately. It became effective at 12:01 a.m. this morning and expires June 30, 2011. Also, the new TV/theatrical agreement reportedly includes more than $105 million in wages, pension, and other benefits.

SAG President Alan Rosenberg led the opposition who fought bitterly for a sweeter deal in new media for the actors. Rosenberg accepted the will of the majority, but admitted he’s preparing to launch the fight again in 2011:”The membership has spoken and has decided to work under the terms of this contract … I call upon all SAG members to begin to ready themselves for the battle ahead.”

Although pleased with the ratification vote, SAG interim National Executive Director David White is looking to the future as well: “This decisive vote gets our members back to work with immediate pay raises and puts SAG in a strong position for the future. Preparations for the next round of negotiations begins now.”

The previous contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expired a year ago this month. The negotiations with the producers dragged on for months with tons of infighting at SAG, power plays, and drama. Oh, and apparently there will be no retroactive checks for the actors. It was not in the final contract. Another reason for the SAG members to look forward to 2011 with an eye toward getting a better deal.

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