Org agrees to one-year extension of deal

The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists has agreed to a one-year extension on its vidgame contract with employers, six weeks prior to the expiration of the current deal.

AFTRA, which made the announcement Wednesday, said the extension runs to the end of 2009 and includes a 3% increase in initial compensation for all session fees and a 0.5% gain in health and retirement contributions. Both gains go into effect Jan. 1.

“We are pleased to have reached an extension agreement with the major videogame employers that keeps AFTRA members working and secures solid increases in wages and benefits on par with the five other major national contracts AFTRA negotiated earlier this year,” said Denny Delk, chair of the AFTRA interactive media steering committee.

AFTRA shares jurisdiction with the Screen Actors Guild in interactive work with coverage of such games as “Halo 3″ and “Madden NFL.” The current vidgame contract, signed in 2005, has identical terms for SAG and AFTRA and covered between 10% and 15% of those artists working as performers in vidgames for publishing giants like Electronic Arts and about 70 other gaming companies.

SAG hasn’t reached a new vidgame deal, and its contract will expire on Dec. 31. SAG national exec director Doug Allen said the guild will be launching talks in “the near future” but gave no other details.

“We look forward to continuing a productive relationship with the companies covered by that contract,” he added.

AFTRA negotiated its primetime deal separately from SAG in the late spring after splitting off angrily over jurisdictional issues. Under an agreement brokered by the AFL-CIO, the thesps unions have reconciled and are planning to negotiate jointly on their commercials contract, which expires March 31.

AFTRA said Wednesday that the extension of the vidgame pact will permit the “wages and working conditions” process – in which the union formulates its proposal for the negotiations with the ad biz — to continue without interruption.

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