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SAG Wants Strike Vote on Toon Pact

The Screen Actors Guild is gathering its members who work under the Television Animation agreement, asking them to take a strike-authorization vote this weekend.

SAG's animation negotiating committee will host caucus meetings June 25 (Saturday) in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

"Your participation is vital to the future of the Television Animation contract," SAG has told members on the union website, emphasizing that they—members affiliated with the New York, Hollywood, or Chicago branches—must be physically present at one of the meetings to vote.

SAG members affiliated with other branches who may be in one of the three cities are also being asked to attend the meetings and vote. Members in the other branches are being provided a telephone number to call: (877) 494-5165, along with a pass code (927092).

"A full report on the progress of the negotiations currently underway with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers will be given and critical strike authorization votes will be conducted," SAG's website release stated.

The release provided no details on the negotiations. SAG's communications office had not provided information by press time on how many members work under the contract.

SAG originally signed its TV animation pact in 1967 with the 10 major cartoon-producing studios—including Warner Bros., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Walt Disney, and Hanna-Barbera. The major impact of the new contract was that the studios could no longer pay a voiceover actor one price for an unlimited number of voices. The new pact also included a dollar-amount wage raise to cover cost-of-living increases.

The only strike on the pact appears to have occurred during a six-week period in June–July 1987. The strike resulted in raised minimum session fees and increased pay for an actor providing additional voices.

By the time SAG signed a renewed TV animation pact with the AMPTP in 1998, the alliance was representing 108 TV animation producers.

Interactive Media Pact

On June 20, SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists held a meeting in AFTRA's L.A. boardroom with members who work under the Interactive Media Agreement. Members were to receive a report on the tentative new agreement between the two unions.

Earlier this month SAG and AFTRA reached a surprise agreement with a handful of video game producers representing more than 50 companies that had signed the unions' Interactive Media Agreement.

After two extensions—and bargaining that began Feb. 15—the pact finally expired on May 13. SAG and AFTRA walked away from the table and seemed to leave it to members who work under the pact to decide whether they wanted to strike.

In late May strike ballots were mailed to approximately 1,900 SAG and 1,000 AFTRA members with earnings under the unions' contracts with the video game industry. The return deadline for the ballots was June 7.

But on the day after the votes were counted, the unions suddenly announced that they had reached the tentative pact with the vidgame producers, both sides agreeing not to reveal the results of the strike vote.

The new three-and-a-half year agreements—an individual contract for each producer—include a 36 percent increase in minimum pay over the contract's term, with 25 percent immediately implemented. In addition the pacts contain "significant increases in benefit contributions, as well as greater protections for the performers who do this work," according to the unions.

"On the eve of a strike authorization vote, and after much deliberation, both unions reluctantly withdrew their demand that a residual, or profit-sharing, model be instituted for video games, in return for producers putting more money for minimum pay into both contracts," the unions said. SAG and AFTRA had walked away from talks over the residuals issue, heavily criticizing the producers but eventually giving up on it.

SAG's national executive committee and AFTRA's national administrative committee now must approve the tentative agreements and will consider doing so "in the coming weeks," according to the unions, evidently wanting to wait until members had received information on the pact.

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