The vote by the Joint National Board of SAG and AFTRA comes a month after the two actors union reached a tentative new deal with AMPTP that includes a 2% wage increase a year, a 1.5% boost to health and pension plans and  the elimination of a long-standing provision that required first-class air travel for actors. The board is recommending the deal to the two unions’ membership that will now vote on it. Here is the joint SAG/AFTRA release.

Los Angeles (December 4, 2010) – The Joint National Board of Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists today overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on November 7 – a deal which it is now recommending to the respective union memberships.

Eligible AFTRA and SAG members will vote on the proposed successor agreements to the Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement for feature motion pictures, scripted network primetime television and pay television programs; Exhibit A of the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, covering scripted network primetime and pay television programs; and the CW Supplement which applies to both unions.

The Board passed the motion to approve and send to the memberships a recommendation of a “yes” vote by 89.29 percent to 10.71 percent.

Ratification ballots will be mailed to all eligible AFTRA and SAG members in the coming days with an expected return date in mid-January. Due to the holidays, the time period for reviewing and returning ballots will be extended to five weeks (rather than the traditional three-week time period) in order to afford every member the opportunity to carefully review the terms of the proposed agreements before voting. Tabulation will occur immediately upon the conclusion of balloting.

Additionally, informational meetings for members will be scheduled in select cities across the country including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Florida, Washington, D. C.-Baltimore, San Francisco and Atlanta.

The current contracts expire on June 30, 2011. The new three-year agreement would be effective from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2014.

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

•      The term of the agreement is 3 years, commencing July 1, 2011

•      A 6% wage increase over the term of the agreement, with 2% in each of the three years, effective July 1, 2011, 2012 and 2013

•     A 10% increase in the current rate of employer contributions paid to the Screen Actors Guild Pension & Health Plans and AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds, bringing the total contribution rate to 16.5% effective July 1, 2011. This represents the largest percentage increase and dollar value increase to the plans under these contracts in more than two decades

•     Two additional background positions in theatrical and one additional background position in television in the Western Zones

•     An expansion of major role provisions to apply to new pay television series commencing in their second season

•     Expanded union coverage over made for new media productions

•      Increases in the area of money and schedule breaks

•     Improved contract language to increase equal employment opportunities for union performers

Additionally, the unions agreed to modifications to the travel provision that allow for business class (or first class when business class is unavailable) on all domestic flights of 1,000 miles or more and on all international flights, except for Vancouver and Toronto, Canada.  Coach class travel is permitted on flights of less than 1,000 miles between a U.S. city and Vancouver, Canada or Toronto, Canada and flights between Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada.  First class travel shall continue to be required if business class is not available and coach is not permissible.
Screen Actors Guild National President Ken Howard said, “Our most important goal in this negotiation was to protect our members’ ability to have access to strong, reliable pension and health benefits. This contract achieves that by securing the largest increase in decades to our employer P&H/H&R contributions, and I’m extremely pleased that the joint boards of SAG and AFTRA have recommended it to our members for ratification. I’m also grateful to our joint negotiating committee, who worked so closely together to deliver this solid contract.”

AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said, “AFTRA and SAG successfully achieved our primary objective of securing a significant increase in employer contributions to the H&R and P&H funds, as well as a breakthrough on the addition of Major Role minimum provisions to series made for pay television for the second season onward, among other improvements to the contracts. I commend the joint negotiating committee for their solidarity and hard work, and I am very pleased that the joint board recommends it for ratification by the members.”

Formal negotiations between the 26-member Joint Screen Actors Guild-AFTRA Negotiating Committee and the AMPTP began on Monday, September 27, in Los Angeles. Talks were preceded by wages and working conditions meetings held this past summer.