LOS ANGELES – Hollywood's smaller actors union ratified a new three-year contract with film and television studios, leaving the larger Screen Actors Guild as the last labor group without an agreement. Members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) voted by a 62% margin to approve an agreement that provides a wage increase and union coverage of some work shown on the Internet, the union said in a statement.
The guild had urged AFTRA members to reject the contract, arguing they would get a better deal through joint negotiations. The vote leaves guild leaders, who are seeking a bigger share of DVD revenue and more control over Internet work, little leverage to force concessions from studios when they meet again.
About 40,000 of the guild's 120,000 members also belong to AFTRA. The approval margin may be large enough to deter SAG from seeking a strike vote. The AFTRA contract is similar to agreements reached earlier this year by the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America.
Ed Asner, a former president of the Screen Actors Guild who portrayed the Minneapolis news director on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," said he truly doubted that actors would go on strike, especially with the industry still reeling from the ramifications of the prolonged writers' strike. "Actors certainly don't have any more guts than the average person, so they realize the tremendous costs," he said. "I think if push comes to shove, they'll vote against it."
Sources: Bloomberg & Minneapolis Star Tribune