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Actors Guild wants smaller union to reject Hollywood deal

Actors Guild wants smaller union to reject Hollywood deal

Screen Actors Guild leaders on Monday urged members of a smaller actors union to reject a proposed contract deal with Hollywood studios, saying they believe a better deal could be had.
The plea came at a rally staged as the guild continued its own contract talks with the studios.
SAG previously asked the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to delay a membership vote on its proposed deal, but AFTRA refused.
SAG has said a delay would help it gain leverage and negotiate a better deal on issues including new media, DVD compensation and even mileage reimbursement. Those gains were not achieved in the proposed AFTRA contract, SAG said. About 44,000 actors belong to both unions.
At the rally, Rosenberg said it was "essential to vote down that AFTRA deal."
"We are engaged in the battle of our lives," Rosenberg said. "AFTRA has abandoned us to make their own deal."AFTRA officials declined comment.
Several hundred people attended the rally, toting signs and chanting "vote no."
The tentative three-year agreement to be considered by AFTRA members later this month establishes higher fees for downloaded content and residual payments for ad-supported streams and clips. It also calls for increased base pay as well as improved health and retirement benefits.
SAG officials believe AFTRA's deal compromises SAG's negotiations and puts lower-paid actors at a disadvantage.
SAG Executive Director Doug Allen told The Associated Press, "What we're trying to do right now is get the best possible contract we can. This rally is to remind each other what our priorities are. We aren't done yet." Asked about the possibility of a strike, Allen replied that the focus now is on reaching a contract agreement.
SAG's stance on the AFTRA contract prompted the smaller union to warn that it might pursue legal remedies if SAG tried to "undermine or interfere with our ratification process."
Trying to derail AFTRA's deal is a "high-risk strategy, because it's an uphill battle to persuade members to vote against a deal that their leadership recommends," said entertainment lawyer Jonathan Handel, a former Writers Guild of America associate counsel.
"SAG loses an enormous amount of leverage if the campaign fails. But if it succeeds, they gain a lot of power at the negotiating table," he said. Former SAG president and Emmy-winning actor Ed Asner also said he would vote against the agreement, contending AFTRA has tried to destroy the solidarity between unions.
"Every principle, everything we stand for is being chipped away by AFTRA," Asner said.
Both AFTRA and SAG said they want to avoid a repeat of the 100-day writers strike that ended in February. The walkout shut down production on dozens of TV shows, costing the Los Angeles economy an estimated US$2.5 billion.