Hollywood unions settle with studios on new contracts

09:51, November 08, 2010      

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Two major unions representing most Hollywood movie and TV actors have tentatively reached an agreement on new contracts including six percent wage hike, capping 11 weeks of hard negotiations, a statement released by the unions early Sunday said.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA, AFL-CIO) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) have settled with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and agreed on new three-year contracts which come into force on July 1, 2011.

The deal still need the approval by the boards of directors and then have to be ratified by the members of the two unions, according to the statement. AFTRA represents 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters and recording artists while SAG has a membership of more than 125,000.

The deal, which expires on June 30, 2014, covers nearly all people who appear on television, with the exception of some soap opera actors and television newscasters.

According to the new contracts, union members are entitled to a six percent wage increase which spread over the next three years, as well as 10 percent increase in the current rate of employer contributions to union health insurance and pension funds. This brings total contribution to 16.5 percent, representing the largest percentage increase to the plans since the unions were founded more than two decades ago.

"I am extremely pleased we met our goal of increasing contributions to our retirement and pension plans, and that we successfully completed this negotiation now to protect the needs of performers early in the process," AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said in a press release.

"Strengthening the pension and health plans was our top priority in these negotiations," said SAG President Ken Howard in a statement released by both unions. "Increased wages across the contract and the expansion of the major role premium into pay television will not only put more money in performer's pockets, but will provide yet another boost to our pension and health funds. "

The actors unions also get increased territory in pay-cable, new media and internet movies and TV show productions as well as equal employment opportunities.

Negotiations for the new contract began Sept. 27, following months of behind-the-scenes meetings on wages and working conditions among union members and with studios.

In 2007 and 2008, Hollywood was hard hit by a writers strike as SAG and the studios were locked in a standoff that disrupted production and left actors to work without a contract for about a year. This effectively shut down Hollywood for 100 days and cost the Southern California economy an estimated 1.5 billion dollars in lost wages, purchases by production companies and studio income.

Both the actors and studios were eager to fend off the prospect of a repeat of the calamity.

Source: Xinhua


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