6 PM UPDATE: It’s official — the SAG National Board has approved a 2-year tentative deal. The vote was 53.38% to 46.62% and SAG will recommend the pact. But there will be both “Pro” and “Con” statements sent to members with the ratification materials. The official SAG and AMPTP statements are below.

4:40 PM: I hear there hasn’t been the intense level of vitriol inside SAG’s National Board meeting about the tentative TV/Theatrical Agreement with the AMPTP. That’s because I’m told opponents of the terms of the deal will get to include their “Con” statement when it goes out to the 120,000-strong members (at least those in good standing). I applaud this very fair and balanced step towards educating the big union’s actors about whether they wish to ratify this pact or not.

The “Vote No” contingent believes that, once actors see on paper that their residuals will slip away, they’ll reject the contract. Interestingly, the official SAG statement about the contract doesn’t spell out the exact residuals called for in the agreement, even though other provisions are specified.

But the SAG National Majority is privately saying it’s counting on the “exhaustion” factor to ensure passage: that SAG members are so tired of how long it’s taken to reach a deal that they’ll “Vote Yes” just to end the prolonged process. Still, SAG’s new leaders are going to have to explain in their “Pro” statement why in the world they didn’t at least try to negotiate better terms. Because this is the AFTRA contract with a few bones thrown in for features that were expected to be included at the last minute no matter who was heading SAG.

However, SAG’s ex-leadership would never have allowed the awful force majeure “compromise” that SAG’s Leaders 2.0 agreed to that leaves too many individual actors without the protection of their union.

After the SAG National Majority fired National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Doug Allen, disbanded the guild’s Negotiating Committee, and replaced it with an appointed task force, the new unit was handed a “Last, Best & Final Offer” by the AMPTP”.

The only term truly bargained was to trim the 3-year pact down to a 2-year pact so it would end the same time as AFTRA’s, and that was accomplished in backchannel negotiations with the Hollywood CEOs. The SAG National Majority’s thinking is that, then, both unions could merge and together negotiate better New Media terms since the Hollywood CEOs will better know their profit margins. But the “Vote No” contingent believes this is a hopelessly naive strategy. Because Big Media and its AMPTP has failed to make more lucrative agreements for each new technology that came along — first VHS, then DVDs, now streaming and downloading. So the fact is that not once have the studio and network CEOs been open to renegotiate the contract terms each time a new format caught on.

No one really knows if the pact will pass. “It’s going to take a massive upheaval from the membership to change what they’re imposing on us,” one of my sources says, “and we don’t have a leader now, just accomplices.”

Finally, I hope that no one plays fast and loose with this ratification vote. I hope there’s no attempt like IATSE did to claim a “No” vote is a strike authorization. (It’s not.) I also hope there’s no attempt to confuse the Commercials Contract with the TV/Theatrical Contract. SAG members deserve an honest and open discussion about the pros and cons.

Here is the officiaL SAG statement tonight:

SCREEN ACTORS GUILD NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPROVES TENTATIVE
TELEVISION AND MOTION PICTURE CONTRACTS AND RECOMMENDS RATIFICATION

Los Angeles (April 19, 2009) – The Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors today voted 53.38 percent to 46.62 percent to approve and recommend to members, new, two-year successor agreements to the 2005 Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement and 2005 Screen Actors Guild Television Agreement.

The proposed agreement, covering actors in motion pictures and television delivers 3.5% effective annual increases comprised of a 3% wage increase and a .5% pension and health contribution increase upon ratification, and a 3.5% wage increase in year two.

The board passed the below motion shortly after 4:00 p.m. today:

It was moved and seconded that the National Board directs the Interim National Executive Director to send the tentative agreement between the Producers represented by the AMPTP and the Screen Actors Guild for successor agreements to the 2005 Producer–Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement and the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Television Agreement to the membership for ratification, with a recommendation from the Board to vote ‘Yes.’
Approved: 53.38% –46.62%

“I urge members to carefully review both the pros and cons in the referendum materials, and exercise their right to vote,” said Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg.

Interim National Executive Director David White said: “We are pleased that Screen Actors Guild members will soon be voting on a deal for television and motion pictures. 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.

Our negotiating committee, task force and professional staff have worked countless hours on this agreement over the last year. On behalf of the National Board, I thank them for their time, commitment and expertise.”

Chief Negotiator John McGuire stated: “This tentative agreement delivers increased contributions to the SAG pension plan, increased minimums, a significant gain in background actor numbers from 50 to 55 over the term of the contract, and it tracks the new media provisions achieved by other entertainment industry unions. The term of the agreement puts SAG in sync with the other unions, and does not include the extended term recently proposed by the AMPTP.”

Provisions of the proposed deal include:
• A two-year term of agreement concluding June 30, 2011.
• Effective annual increases comprised of 3.0% in wage increases and .5% in pension contributions upon ratification, and a 3.5% wage increase one year following ratification.
• A new media structure that tracks those achieved by other industry unions, resulting in gains for actors including:
• Jurisdiction on all derivative, made-for new media productions; automatic jurisdiction on all high-budget, original, made-for new media productions; plus jurisdiction on low budget original, new media productions that employee at least 1 covered performer.
• Residuals for exhibition of TV and Theatrical motion pictures on consumer pay platforms (Electronic Sell Through) at a greater percentage than those paid for DVD distribution.
• Residuals for ad-supported streaming of feature films and television programs.
• Residuals for derivative new media programs.
• Additional 5 covered background actors in feature films. From 50 to 53 covered background positions upon ratification of the contract, and from 53 to 55 covered background positions in year 2. Adds 1 covered background position in TV, from 19 to 20, upon ratification.
• Increased compensation for guest star premium from 7.5% to 10%.
• Increased trailer money break from $2,500 to $3,000, or more per week.
• Increased overtime money break for three-day performers from $2,700 to $3,000.

Ratification ballots will be mailed to eligible SAG members in early May, with an expected return date at the end of the month.
Tabulation will occur immediately upon the conclusion of balloting.

Bargaining for a successor agreement to the 2005 SAG TV/Theatrical Contract began on April 15, 2008.

Here’s the statement by the AMPTP:

The new AMPTP-SAG agreement is the eighth major labor agreement reached by AMPTP since the start of 2008 and the 312th such agreement in AMPTP’s 27-year history. Because both sides were willing to compromise we now have an agreement that will provide SAG members with meaningful wage boosts, pension increases, first-class health benefits, and a complete set of new media rights and residuals. With this agreement in place, our entire industry can work together to overcome the enormous economic challenges before us.