Members to vote on strike authorization ballot

The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists will hold rallies and town hall meetings during the next two weeks in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco to generate support for their commercial contract negotiators.

The unions’ outreach campaign is designed to encourage the 120,000 SAG and AFTRA members to vote yes on a strike authorization ballot that will be mailed March 7, a week before negotiations resume in New York.

Tentative dates for the events are Thursday in San Francisco, March 10 in Chicago, March 13 in Philadelphia and March 14 in New York. Current contract expires March 31.

The unions began negotiations with advertisers Feb. 14 and recessed late last week. Unions, citing the profitability of the advertising business, are seeking a 20% pay raise for principal performers on broadcast commercials, a 30% increase for actors in Spanish-language commercials and major increases in residuals for cable and foreign showings.

Advertisers are citing higher costs in asking for cuts in overtime and contributions to the health and pension plans, reduction in pay of actors onscreen for less than two seconds and an upfront broadcast buyout allowing unlimited use during 13 weeks. They have also proposed a 15% hike in cable pay and offered to add arbitration language to the contract’s affirmative action clause.

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