Screen actors approve new contract

MUMBAI: Members of the Screen Actors Guild have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with the major Hollywood studios, ending a nearly year-long standoff.
The delay resulted in the union‘s missing out on millions of dollars in potential pay increases and on contracts to represent actors on many of next fall‘s new television series.

The union announced Tuesday night that 78 per cent of those who voted supported the contract. About 35 percent of the union‘s 110,000 members returned ballots. The votes in favor of the contract exceeded 70 per cent in all three of the union‘s major divisions, including in Hollywood, where much of the most high-profile opposition was centered.

The new, two-year contract gives the union a 3 per cent wage increase immediately and a 3.5 per cent increase after one year. In addition, it provides a number of benefits for actors working on material created for digital distribution, including residual payments for ad-supported Internet streaming of feature films and television programs.

Those benefits came at a cost, however. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major Hollywood studios, offered essentially the same terms to the Screen Actors Guild when its previous contract expired a year ago.

The producers‘ alliance first reached contracts with several other unions, including those representing directors, writers and a rival union representing actors. The Screen Actors Guild initially took a hard line in negotiations, but a lack of progress eventually led to the ouster of the union‘s executive director and its chief negotiator.

The producers‘ alliance hailed the ratification as "good news for the entertainment industry." In a statement, the alliance said: "We look forward to working with S.A.G. members - and with everyone else in our industry - to emerge from today‘s significant economic challenges with a strong and growing business."

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