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Leaders of SAG-AFTRA have tapped co-president Roberta Reardon to head its negotiating committee for its commercials contract — which covers about $1 billion in annual work and expires March 31.

The union’s national board made the move at its first-ever meeting last month, but SAG-AFTRA has not disclosed Reardon’s appointment. SAG-AFTRA declined to comment citing the national board’s confidentiality policies.

SAG-AFTRA issued a news release on May 21, the day after the board meeting, announcing that the board has approved a Wages & Working Conditions Plenary Committee of 17 voting members and nine alternates to develop a set of proposals with input from locals and staff. That process starts on July 2 with contract negotiations beginning later this year.

The unions and the ad industry are in the final nine months of a one-year extension to the three-year deal reached in 2009. SAG and AFTRA sought and received the extension last summer in order to focus their efforts on merging the unions.

Key gains in the current commercials contract included a payment structure for work made for and moved over to the Internet and other new-media platforms and maintaining the method of pay-per-play payment for ads run on network (also known as the “Class A” payment structure). The contract also calls for the unions and producers to commission a two-year pilot study by a consultant to test a revamp of compensation based on ratings rather than the current pay-per-play model.

Reardon has been receiving a $3,500 monthly stipend since early last year, when the national board of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists decided to pay her to promote the combo with the Screen Actors Guild due to the “extraordinary demands” placed on her — the first time AFTRA had taken such a step. Leaders of AFTRA and SAG served without pay, though they were compensated for expenses.

AFTRA’s recent post-merger filing with the U.S. Dept. of Labor showed that Reardon was paid $35,000 in allowances and $18,235 in expenses during the 11 months ended March 30.

Under the merger agreement, the new SAG-AFTRA assumed to the obligations of both the former SAG and the former AFTRA — but it’s understood that new union is no longer paying Reardon’s stipend.