LOS ANGELES: Hollywood actors gave their tentative approval to a new collective bargaining agreement Sunday, making a step toward resolving their long-running conflict with studio owners.
The board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild voted 53 percent to 46 percent to approve the two-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the union announced.
The agreement delivers movie and television actors 3.5-percent effective annual increases in pay in benefits, better overtime pay, and a share of returns from sales through new media, such as pay-per-view and Internet marketing, according to a guild statement.
But the raises will not be retroactive, an indication that the union had to moderate its appetite in the face of the overall economic situation of the country facing an acute crisis.
The accord, however, still has to be ratified by guild members, and voting in all of the union's 20 branches nationwide was expected to continue through next month.
"I urge members to carefully review both the pros and cons in the referendum materials, and exercise their right to vote," Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg said in the statement.
SAG Interim National Executive Director David White said he was pleased with the outcome and urged union members "to focus now on the challenges ahead, particularly on initiating a comprehensive effort to thoughtfully plan for the future."
The Screen Actors Guild represents nearly 120,000 actors who work in motion pictures, television, industrials, commercials, video games, music videos and all new media formats.
The AMPTP hailed the deal as an important breakthrough that would allow the US movie industry to move forward.
"Because both sides were willing to compromise we now have an agreement that will provide SAG members with meaningful wage boosts, pension increases, first-class health benefits, and a complete set of new media rights and residuals," said a statement from the studio owners.
"With this agreement in place, our entire industry can work together to overcome the enormous economic challenges before us."
Sunday's accord caps a saga that has been rumbling since mid-2008, when the two sides failed to agree on a new contract to replace a previous agreement that expired on June 30.
Fresh attempts to broker a deal foundered in November and again in February. The possibility of a potentially devastating actors walkout was raised in December, when hardline SAG leaders announced that a ballot of members would be held to seek authorization for a strike.
But some leading actors, such as George Clooney, Sally Field and Tom Hanks urged a more moderate approach, arguing that the current economic situation in the country was not conducive to an uncompromising stance.