SAG Approves New Animation Pact

SAG's national board has unanimously ratified its recently negotiated new contract for basic cable animation.

The contract, which went into effect with Friday's approval, is retroactive to Jan. 1 and will run through June 30, 2008.

Guild leaders were pleased to get a 20% increase in residuals after waiting 16 years to renegotiate the pact with such companies as Walt Disney Pictures & Television, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios.

"This is a significant and well-deserved victory for the many actors who work under this contract, specifically day performers," SAG president Alan Rosenberg said. "I'm proud of the work done by our negotiating committee and staff, who were able to improve this contract for the first time in two decades. This demonstrates that producers and performers can work together to achieve results that benefit both sides and keep our industry moving forward."

Sallie Weaver, who is retiring May 1, served as chief negotiator, and Loren Lester was chair of the negotiating committee.

With the new contract, the residual rate for voice performers will rise from 12% to 17% of their minimum pay (currently $716 for a four-hour session) for the first rerun. Subsequent reruns are paid at a lesser rate until bottoming out at 1.5% of minimum for the 13th and all subsequent runs.

The residual gain is estimated at 20% because these animated series have an average of 25 repeats after the initial run.

The tentative agreement between SAG and the production companies was announced March 28 and received final approval Friday as SAG leaders opened a two-day plenary meeting.

It was the first contract negotiated under Rosenberg's administration, which was elected last year on a platform of getting more aggressive in negotiations.

Guild leaders also noted that the June 30, 2008, expiration date will allow them to return to the bargaining table in just more than two years, potentially to secure further gains for those that work on such shows as "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "The Boondocks."

SAG is separately negotiating a basic cable live-action agreement that, like the animation pact, expired Feb. 28.

The live-action talks have grown tense as the guild has rejected the industry's last offer, an estimated 14% gain in residuals. SAG leaders have since received strong member support to call a work stoppage if needed, though initially the strike authorization is intended to give the union more leverage at the bargaining table.

Talks between SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have been intermittent since the strike-authorization vote was taken. That contract affects such shows as "The Shield" on FX, "Monk" on USA Network and "The Closer" on TNT.

AMPTP officials believe their offer is generous because it would raise SAG's residuals to the same rate held by WGA and DGA and leave intact the higher initial compensation actors receive over their peers in the writers and directors guilds.

Jesse Hiestand writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

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