SAG leaders also approve three other pacts

Leaders of Hollywood’s performers unions this weekend approved a three-year master contract for film and primetime TV, triggering a ratification vote by members in coming weeks. SAG leaders also endorsed tentative three-year agreements on a trio of other pacts — basic cable live-action, basic cable animation and TV animation.

The joint board of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists voted Saturday to OK the master contract with 89% in favor.

Negotiators for SAG and AFTRA reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers on Nov. 7 — nearly eight months before the expiration of the current deal on June 30. Key gains include a 2% annual hike in minimums and a boost in employer contributions to the unions-industry health and pension plans to 16.5% from the current 15%.

Key concession in the deal is elimination of the long-standing requirement that air transportation to sets be first class. In addition, the agreement does not include language covering actors working on motion-capture sets in pics such as “Avatar.”

Each union will have to approve the deal for it to go into effect. SAG has 120,000 members and AFTRA has 70,000, including broadcasters and singers; about 45,000 thesps are dual members. Approval is expected.

The unions didn’t announce a specific date for mailing out ballots but it’s understood that the materials will be mailed to members in about a week with a mid-January deadline for return. That’s longer than the usual three-week ratification period to take into account the holidays.

The unions also said Saturday that they would hold informational meetings about the pact for members in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Florida, Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, San Francisco and Atlanta.

As for the other pacts, SAG’s national board approved the deals at its meeting Saturday afternoon. The guild said terms of the three pacts mirror those in the new primetime-feature deal — which includes a 2% annual wage hike, an increase in the contribution rates for pension and health from 15% to 16.5% and elimination of the requirement that members travel first class when they’re required to fly to sets.

The current SAG contracts expire on June 30. The new three-year agreements will be effective from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2014.

SAG concluded the deals for basic cable live-action, basic cable animation and TV animation Nov. 10.

SAG will await the conclusion of balloting on the primetime-feature deal before sending the basic cable tentative agreement to its members for ratification. Board opted for direct ratification of the two animation contracts, contingent on the ratification of the feature-primetime deal.

The cable deal will be mailed to SAG members in late January, with an expected return date in early February.

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