SAG, AFTRA approve contract proposals

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Hollywood actors will seek higher minimum pay rates and an increase in contributions to their health and pension plans in the upcoming round of contract negotiations for work in film and prime-time television.

Those are the highlights from a package of bargaining proposals approved Sunday by the joint board of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

The proposals, culled from weeks of meetings with members of both unions nationwide, will form the framework for contract negotiations with the major studios that are scheduled to begin Sept. 27.

The actors unions, which previously focused heavily on issues surrounding new-media pay, will shift more attention in the upcoming talks to bread-and-butter topics. This focus is intended to shore up the unions’ health and pension plans -- which have been hit by investment losses during the recession and by rising medical costs -- and to increase basic pay levels for journeyman actors, who have seen ongoing erosion in their incomes in recent years.


Although the actors’ contracts don’t expire until June, the unions opted to begin their negotiations early to avoid a standoff like the one that occurred two years ago between the studios and SAG, then under a different leadership.

SAG President Ken Howard and AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon will co-chair the negotiations, a departure from previous negotiations when the unions broke ranks and negotiated separate deals with the studios. SAG Executive Director David White and AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth will serve as the unions’ co-lead negotiators, the unions said in a statement.

-- Richard Verrier