Wage increase key issue as 8% hike rejected

The Screen Actors Guild may soon face a strike by 40 business reps of its Hollywood branch.

The reps, who affiliated with the Teamsters six months ago as Local 986, voted unanimously Thursday to turn down SAG’s “last, best, final offer” from the guild’s management and ask that a federal mediator be added to the talks.

The members also authorized the negotiating committee to call a strike if SAG refuses to bring in a mediator.

“I’m absolutely disappointed that a labor union has treated its business representatives worse than the producers treat actors,” said business rep Paul Bales.

Bales said the key issue was a lack of significant improvement in wages. Hollywood branch exec director Jerre Hookey, who has been handling the talks, said SAG had offered an 8% increase — consisting of an already budgeted 3% hike retroactive to May, 2% additional on signing and 3% more as of next year.

The SAG offer also would have allowed the Teamsters to reopen negotiations on wages next June.

“The guild put out a really good offer, and I’m disappointed they turned it down,” Hookey said.

Hookey also said he will recommend to associate national exec director John McGuire that SAG agree to mediation.

The business reps — who enforce contracts, visit sets, file claims and sign new producers — first asked for a mediator in late July following the first two meetings at the bargaining table, but SAG refused. They also staged a noisy demonstration outside SAG headquarters in Hollywood during a national board meeting.

The reps affiliated with the Teamsters earlier this year, citing erosion of benefits and working conditions along with concerns over SAG’s long-term outlook.

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