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SAG Leaders Agree to AFTRA Talks

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Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild have agreed to resume their negotiating partnership with the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists for upcoming bargaining with companies on the feature-primetime contract.

SAG's national board gave approval Saturday morning with 78% in favor during a videoconference meeting. The move came two weeks after AFTRA's national board approved joint negotiations Saturday -- and nearly two years after AFTRA had split from SAG and negotiated its own primetime deal

SAG had no immediate comment on further details, such as how soon the “wages and working conditions" meetings for members will begin.

The partnership resumes under terms of the 30-year-old Phase One agreement and a 2- year-old “no-raiding nondisparagement" agreement that was employed during last year's commercial negotiations with ad agencies.

SAG has seven weeks of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers starting on Oct. 1 and is the only Hollywood union with a negotiations date already set. Both the SAG and AFTRA deals expire on June 30, 2011.

A spokesman for the AMPTP had no comment Saturday.

SAG president Ken Howard, who won office six month ago, has strongly endorsed improving relations with AFTRA. Howard heads the Unite For Strength faction, part of a coalition of self-styled moderates who gained control of the SAG board a year and a half ago over the more assertive Membership First faction.

AFTRA concluded its primetime deal with companies in May 2008 and members ratified the pact despite strong official opposition from SAG since Membership First still controlled the national board at that point. The moderate coalition fired national exec director Doug Allen early last year partly due to the deterioration in relations with AFTRA and frustration over his failure to close the feature-primetime deal.

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