SAG, AFTRA ratify three-year deal

Hollywood’s union actors, closing the final chapter on their bitter six-month strike against advertisers, have overwhelmingly ratified the new three-year commercials contract with 96% approval among those who voted.

The ratification, announced Friday evening by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, came six weeks after negotiators hammered out a tentative agreement in New York. Of the 124,724 members receiving ballots, 34.3% voted, with 41,064 approving, 1,623 voting against and 53 ballots ruled invalid.

Ratification had been a foregone conclusion after union leaders issued a back-to-work order for Oct. 30. Key issues in the contract, which will expire on Oct. 29, 2003, included retention of pay-per-play residuals for network TV ads, large gains in cable rates, jurisdiction over ads made for the Internet and a six-month study on monitoring ads.

More than 93% of SAG and AFTRA members had given strike authorization in March, and the joint SAG/AFTRA board voted 150-0 in mid-April to strike on May 1. Prior to the work stoppage, SAG and AFTRA members took in about $2 million per day in session fees and residuals.

By the end of the strike, the unions had launched major offensives against General Motors and Procter & Gamble. They also received endorsements and six-figure contributions from high-profile members such as Nicolas Cage, Harrison Ford, Helen Hunt, Eddie Murphy, Kevin Spacey and Bruce Willis.

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