Screen Actors Guild (SAG) membership voted overwhelmingly last night (June 9) to approve new theatrical and TV contracts, ending the 12-month stalemate and delivering a blow to the Guild’s hardline faction.
Members endorsed the two-year successor agreements by a vote of 78% to 22%. Approximately 110,000 Guild members received ballots and the vote turn-out was 35.26%.
The vote count in the Hollywood Division was 70.70% to 29.30% in favour, with New York Division membership voting 85.74% to 14.26% in favour, and the Regional Branch Division approving the contracts by 89.06% to 10.94%.
The deal was tentatively approved in April and will become active at midnight on June 10, expiring on June 30 2011.
According to the Guild, the contracts provide more than $105m in wages, increased pension contributions, and other gains and establishes a template for Guild coverage of new media formats.
The agreed terms were effectively tabled by studios and producers a year ago before the hardline Membership First faction insisted on more favourable terms covering, among other things, royalties and new media revenues.
“The membership has spoken and has decided to work under the terms of this contract that many of us, who have been involved in these negotiations from the beginning, believe to be devastatingly unsatisfactory,” the Guild’s president Alan Rosenberg said.
“Tomorrow morning I will be contacting the elected leadership of the other talent unions with the hope of beginning a series of pre-negotiation summit meetings in preparation for 2011. I call upon all SAG members to begin to ready themselves for the battle ahead.”
Rosenberg’s post comes up for renewal this year but he has not said whether he will run for re-election. He is likely to meet popular resistance in the form of a moderate candidate such as James Cromwell.
The Guild’s interim national executive director David White sounded a more positive note. “This decisive vote gets our members back to work with immediate pay raises and puts SAG in a strong position for the future. Preparation for the next round of negotiations begins now.
“Our members can expect more positive changes in the coming months as we organise new work opportunities, repair and reinvigorate our relationships with our sister unions and industry partners, and continue to improve the Guild’s operations.”
Tom Hanks and George Clooney publicly urged members to endorse the deal, while Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, and former Guild president Ed Asner, who provides the lead voice in Disney/Pixar’s Up, were opposed.