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    Posted March 2, 2010

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"Language Not Finalized" What Does It Mean?

By Joe Garber Senior Business Rep

Equity member George Spelvin recently raised the question why rulebook documents on the Equity web site are sometimes marked "Language Not Finalized" and why it might often take a long time for Equity to post the newly completed rulebook after it has been negotiated and ratified.. We thank you for your inquiry, Mr. Spelvin.

Equity negotiates many collective bargaining agreements (more than thirty, counting both national and local agreements). Contract negotiating sessions with our collective bargaining partners may begin several months prior to the expiration of the agreement, but often the bargaining sessions do not conclude until days before if not the day of the expiration of the agreement. Upon the completion of negotiations for a particular contract, staff must quickly integrate newly negotiated terms into the rulebook and distribute this information to Council for its review. This process takes several weeks, after which Council will then ratify the agreement or in some specific situations Council will order that the agreement be sent out to the membership for review and ratification. This process can take several months. Upon ratification of the agreement, Equity will post a summary of changes in the document library of our website and forward copies to active companies for their information. This summary is always labeled "Language Not Finalized." The work of completing the actual rulebook then begins.

Generally, Equity prepares the first draft of the new terms to be integrated into the rulebook. The employer organization then reviews the language; usually after a reasonable amount of time they will respond with their approval or further suggestions, although sometimes the employer organization takes several months to respond. In the best of circumstances, this process is simply a refinement of language discussed at the negotiations and it moves quickly. However, on occasion, the employers may disagree with Equity's statement of what was negotiated and such disagreements then take time to be worked out. Equity staff makes every attempt to post a new rulebook on the website as quickly as possible so that Stage Managers and Deputies can have access to the new rules. In order to do that, Equity will sometimes post the draft rulebook document before both sides have finally signed off on it and, in that case, the rulebook document is labeled "Language not Finalized". This does not mean there is disagreement as to what was negotiated, only that both sides have not signed off on final language. In some cases there may be only one or two provisions where language hasn't been finalized. The goal is always to disseminate accurate information as soon as possible, but hopefully you understand that the overall process of finalizing an agreement involves many individuals and can be a lengthy one.

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