And yes, the agreement with producers happened way sooner than the June 30, 2011 contract expiration. But that's what the moderate wing of the Screen Actors Guild was looking for when it took over from the hard-liners who had dragged out the last contract deal - with little if any benefit to members. The new agreement, which still has to be voted on by the rank-and-file of SAG and AFTRA, calls for 2 percent minimum wage increases over each of the next three years. The deal also calls for 10 percent funding increases to their pension and health funds. From the Wrap:
So is it a good deal? As always, that depends on who you ask. SAG's moderate-minded majority, which is focused on re-approaching the decades-old merger proposition with AFTRA, will cast the deal as the best possible outcome, given the sour economy. Their dissonant critics in the fast-disappearing Membership First coalition believe SAG's leadership -- spearheaded by national president Ken Howard and chief negotiator David White -- rushed into a bad deal with the AMPTP in order to prove they could negotiate cooly and calmly alongside AFTRA.
The boost to the health plans comes two months after the SAG health plan notified its 40,000 participants that it will be cutting benefits, hiking premiums and tightening eligibility next year. The plan disclosed that it was facing a $30 million deficit this year with projections of a $50 million deficit next year.
Next up are contract talks between the directors and the studios and networks. Writers are expected to begin their negotiations much closer to when their contract expires on May 1.