Hollywood actors, studios reach new contract

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Hollywood actors’ unions and major studios announced Sunday they had reached a new, three-year contract averting the kind of strike that paralyzed the US entertainment industry for 100 days in 2008.

The tentative deal, which goes into effect on July 1, came after six weeks of negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP).

It provided a 6 percent pay raise and a 10 percent increase in contributions to the unions’ health and pension plans, which members had seen as a key priority.

"The deals offer increases in benefit contributions, wages and other areas critical to working performers while being responsive to the current challenges facing feature film and television producers," the AMPTP said in a statement.

"The early agreements also ensure that production can continue without disruption for everyone who depends on this industry."

Three years ago, the inability of actors and producers to clinch an agreement led actors to work without a contract for a year.

It followed a strike by the screenwriters in 2007-2008 that became the US entertainment industry’s most damaging dispute in 20 years, costing an estimated $2 billion.

"Strengthening the pension and health plans was our top priority in these negotiations — making such a significant gain in that area was a vital achievement," said Ken Howard, president of the 125,000-member SAG.

"We had to make some difficult decisions, but working together, we’ve reached a deal that will protect our essential pension and health benefits for years to come."

His counterpart at the 70,000-member AFTRA, Roberta Readon said she was "extremely pleased we met our goal of increasing contributions to our retirement and pension plans, and that we successfully completed this negotiation now to protect the needs of performers early in the process."

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