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Inside Move: Actors eye December talks

Current contracts of SAG, AFTRA to expire June 30

SAG and AFTRA are eyeing the first week in December for the start of what are expected to be contentious film-TV contract negotiations with studios and nets.

The performers unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers haven’t officially announced a launch date yet but are expected to do so shortly.

SAG and AFTRA’s current contract expires June 30. The labor orgs face a daunting task on the hot-button issue of seeking a boost in DVD residuals, with studios insisting they won’t budge on changing the 20-year-old formula.

SAG prexy Melissa Gilbert recently proclaimed that the residual structure isn’t fair “It’s time for us to be more fairly included in the studios’ explo-sive growth and success,” she declared.

But the DGA and WGA achieved no progress on DVD or reality TV jurisdiction in negotiations this fall, opting instead for increases of about $60 million each in three-year deals, with about two-thirds of that gain coming in health plan contributions from employers.

The DGA members have approved the new deal while WGA members are voting on its ratification. The writers pact received strong backing from the WGA West board (16-1), but the WGA East Council gave only a 10-6 endorsement.

SAG and AFTRA are operating under a one-year deal — negotiated last February — that includes a 0.5% hike in contributions to both unions’ health plans. Leaders said at that point that their strategy was to bolster the health plans immediately and then seek a “second bite of the apple” by going after residual increases this fall.

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