Screen Actors Guild (SAG) members voted by a margin of 81.2% to 18.8% to overwhelmingly approve the proposed Interactive Media Agreement recently negotiated with videogame producers. In accordance with a national board decision on June 29, the referendum was sent to Screen Actors Guild performers with earnings under the previous three-year agreement with the videogame industry as well as any eligible, paid-up SAG member in good standing who requested a ballot. The new contract will go into effect on Friday July 29, 2005 and run through December 31, 2008.
Of 3,373 ballots mailed, 42.8% were returned (1,932 ballots were sent automatically to members identified as having earnings under the previous Interactive contract; an additional 1,441 Screen Actors Guild members requested and received ballots). The agreement was jointly negotiated with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), which approved the contract in June and for whom the contract has already gone into effect.
By voting for this contract, SAG members have achieved major gains despite the fact that we were not able to win in the area of residuals, said SAG chief negotiator Sallie Weaver. The interactive market is of vital importance to our membership, and SAG will spend the next three-and-a-half years devoting resources to further organize this exploding industry so that we can return to the bargaining table with renewed strength and vigor.
This adds to the tentative agreement approved for TV animation productions on July 7. That new agreement includes a 3% increase in minimum pay effective July 1, 2005 and a 1% boost in contributions to the unions benefits plans, beginning on January 1, 2006. Additionally, the Guild secured agreement from producers to recommend that the trustees of the unions pension and health plans create a method to track earnings under this contract. To date, the TV animation contract is one of the only union agreements for which member earnings are not separately reported. SAG also granted producers the right to theatrically exhibit TV animation shorts for one week to qualify for Academy Award consideration.
Were pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with the industry for television animation programming, said SAG national executive director/ceo Greg Hessinger. The National Board will consider this contract at our upcoming meeting at the end of July. Now that we have successfully negotiated this important agreement, as well as the larger TV/Theatrical contract, we look forward to beginning talks with the industry on new basic cable agreements. Our focus in those talks will be on the residual structures for live-action and animation programming on basic cable, where the terms covering such work have lagged behind the explosive growth of those platforms for too long.
Negotiations between SAG and AMPTP on the new three-year television animation agreement began in May. Negotiators were strengthened by the support of more than 150 members of the television animation community, who met in a caucus last month to express their priorities in the negotiations. SAG plans to hold another caucus with those performers this Tuesday night at Guild headquarters in Hollywood to report in detail on the terms of the tentative agreement. The proposed contract will go the SAG National Board for ratification at their plenary on July 30.
SAG has also issued a warning to members that Porchlight Ent., the producer of the animated television series TUTENSTEIN (which airs on NBC), is not signed to an agreement with SAG covering the terms and conditions for voice actors employed on the series.
SAG members are advised not to accept any employment on this animated series until they have confirmed with SAG that the producers signatory status has changed. Employment on TUTENSTEIN will currently subject a SAG member to a Rule One Violation.
Members who have any questions or who may have information regarding performers working on this series should contact Deborah Berg of the SAG Television Contracts Department at (323) 549-6835.
Screen Actors Guild is the nations largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 working actors in film, television, industrials, commercials and music videos. The Guild exists to enhance actors working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, you can visit SAG online at www.sag.org.