US actors may have to surrender first class perk

US actors may have to give up flying first class under a new agreement hammered out between unions and employers battling to cut costs to survive the economic downturn.

Under the provisional accord, actors will have to travel economy in trips under 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers), or between Los Angeles and Vancouver, and New York and Toronto, according to the Los Angeles Times and industry daily Variety.

For trips above 1,000 miles, actors would have the right to fly business class, or first class if no business class seats are available.

The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists struck the tentative deal over the weekend with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

If ratified by union members, the flight downgrade would come into force as part of a new three-year agreement due to take effect on July 1.

The union concession was made in return for a six percent wage increase over three years and a 10 percent increase in employer contributions to health and pension plans.

"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," Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard said in a weekend statement.

"Increased wages across the contract and the expansion of the major role premium into pay television will not only put more money in performers' pockets, but will provide yet another boost to our pension and health funds."

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