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Union leaders OK extension

SAG, AFTRA endorse the new ad pact

Leaders of SAG and AFTRA have endorsed the proposed two-year extension to the unions’ commercials contract, triggering a ratification vote by members.

Referendum ballots will be mailed Sept. 5 to the 140,000 members and are due back Sept. 26. Performers with membership in both unions receive only one ballot.

Negotiators for the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television & Radio Artists approved the tentative deal on Aug. 4. If approved, the extension would go into effect Oct. 29.

Key features include $45 million in additional annual compensation; a 6% hike in minimum rates and residuals; a joint study with the ad industry covering changing revenue models; and coverage of all commercials that appear in new media. In addition, employers’ contribution to pension and health plans rise from 14.3% to 14.8%.

Advertisers will have more flexibility to edit commercials for the Internet and new media. They’ll also be able to move TV commercials to the Internet and other new media for a lower rate for an eight-week period during the first year.

The joint SAG-AFTRA board, which met Saturday, endorsed the deal by more than 95%, while a proposal to include a minority report in the referendum lost by a narrower margin. Latter vote split along the usual lines, with SAG’s Hollywood board members supporting the inclusion of a report while guild reps from New York and the regional branches joined with AFTRA reps in voting down the proposal.

SAG generates the lion’s share of work under the ad pact. Guild member earnings subject to pension and health contributions rose 41% between 2000 and 2005 to $750 million.

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