SAG votes overwhelmingly to ratify contract

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) membership has voted to ratify the proposed TV/Theatrical contract with the Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers (AMPTP) with an enormous majority, surpassing the expectations of many observers who initially called it as a much closer race. The final tally was 78% voting “yes” to ratify, and 22% voting “no” to discard the contract and move forward to strike authorisation. The turnout was 35.26% of the 110,000 SAG members in good standing, and thus able to vote.

090220sag_logo1The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) membership has voted to ratify the proposed TV/Theatrical contract with the Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers (AMPTP) with an enormous majority, surpassing the expectations of many observers who initially called it as a much closer race. The final tally was 78% voting “yes” to ratify, and 22% voting “no” to discard the contract and move forward to strike authorisation. The turnout was 35.26% of the 110,000 SAG members in good standing, and thus able to vote.

“This decisive vote gets our members back to work with immediate pay raises and puts SAG in a strong position for the future,” said Interim National Executive Director (NED) David White. “Preparation for the next round of negotiations begins now. Our members can expect more positive changes in the coming months as we organize new work opportunities, repair and reinvigorate our relationships with our sister unions and industry partners, and continue to improve the Guild’s operations.” White took over from the previous NED, Doug Allen, who was ousted from SAG’s leadership through a slim majority in the process of written assent earlier this year. He has continued to campaign for a “yes” vote on the contract ratification ballot, in direct contrast to SAG president Alan Rosenberg, who campaigned thoroughly against ratification.

“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,” said Rosenberg, who also announced his intention to stand for another term as SAG’s president. “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.”

The agreement will remain in force for two years, at which point the agreements for all major Guilds in the United States entertainment industry will enter into a new round of negotiation. The process by which this new TV/Theatrical contract has come into force has lasted for two years for SAG, and kicked off in dramatic style with a three-month strike by the Writers’ Guild Of America (WGA), which widely crippled the television industry.

For their part, the AMPTP commented on moving forward and little sign of the verbal mudslinging that has occurred between SAG and the producers’ union over the last year. “The ratification vote by SAG members is good news for the entertainment industry. This concludes a two-year negotiating process that has resulted in agreements with all major Hollywood Guilds and Unions. We look forward to working with SAG members – and with everyone else in our industry — to emerge from today’s significant economic challenges with a strong and growing business.”

For previous coverage of the negotiation process and the WGA strikes, please see back issues of SciFiNow.