The board of directors SAG-AFTRA’s Los Angeles Local voted overwhelmingly Tuesday – strictly along the guild’s fractious party lines – to oppose ratification of the union’s new film and TV contract. The local is the union’s largest, representing just under 50 percent of the entire membership, and just over 50 percent of all eligible voting members, according to the union’s data from last September’s election.
Local board members voted 29-13 (69 percent-31 precent) to oppose ratification, almost exactly the reverse of the national board, which late last month voted 67.6 percent-32.4 percent to approve the contract. Despite today’s vote, which was not unexpected, the guild’s 160,000 members are likely to ratify the new deal by a wide margin.
Rejecting the new pact against the recommendation of their leaders — a move that is virtually unheard of in Hollywood’s labor history — would send representatives of the guild and management’s AMPTP back to the bargaining table, though there is no guarantee the union would get a better deal, especially during the pandemic shutdown of film and television production.
The local board is dominated by opponents of the guild’s current leadership, while the national board is dominated by supporters of the leadership. The local board’s vote is only advisory, while the national board’s vote comes with a recommendation to the members to vote yes on the new pact.
Shortly after today’s local board meeting, the union sent out a message to members urging them to vote yes. The message contains a “Vote Yes” link that takes them to the official voting portal. The guild communique doesn’t offer a “Vote No” link, but members can vote either way once they access the portal.
Today’s communique says the tentative new agreement includes $318 million in additional wages and benefits, making it “the most lucrative in our history.” The deal includes a 26 percent increase in fixed residuals for streaming shows, and up to $54 million in additional funding for the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan.
Today’s message doesn’t include opposition statements, although ratification packages sent to the guild’s members contain pro and con statements despite the fact opponents on the national board fell just short of enough votes to qualify for a mandated minority report. In their con statement, opponents say the new deal “enshrines historic losses and missed opportunities.”
You can see the ratification package, with pro and con statements, here.
The guild is holding virtual informational meetings today and next Monday in Los Angeles; tomorrow and next Wednesday in New York; and next Tuesday for the union’s other locals around the country. Balloting concludes July 22.