SAG, AFTRA mail out ballots

Members to vote on new commercials pact

SAG and AFTRA have launched their campaign to persuade about 150,000 members to approve the new commercials pact in what’s expected to be an easy ratification.

The unions mailed out the ratification ballots Thursday, followed by an email message Friday that disclosed plans for holding informational meetings in 18 cities. Ballots are due back by May 21.

Unlike the SAG feature-primetime contract, no opposition’s yet emerged to the commercials deal — which has received unanimous backing from the joint negotiating committee and the joint boards of the two unions.

“We believe this is a good and fair contract and we urge you to vote yes,” said SAG president Alan Rosenberg and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon at the conclusion of a letter to members. The letter was also signed by SAG interim national exec director David White and chief negotiator John McGuire along with AFTRA topper Kim Roberts Hedgpeth and chief negotiator Mathis Dunn.

Rosenberg has been fighting ratification of SAG’s deal, mainly on grounds that its new-media provisions fall short. Ballots for the SAG pact go out May 19 with a June 9 return date.

The commercials deal represents a $36 million pay hike in the first year of the contract and a $24 million increase in pension and health contributions over the pact’s three years. It also preserves the current pay-per-play Class A residuals structure while providing for a pilot study on new compenasation model based on ratings.

The commercials pact, which covers nearly $1 billion in annual blurb work, will be retroactive to April 1 and run through March 31, 2012. SAG and AFTRA staged a bitter six-month strike in 2000 against the ad industry, but the tough economic times plus a shift in control of SAG’s national board to a more moderate faction last fall provided strong indications that a commercials strike was unlikely.

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