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And then there’s the actor negotiations: AFTRA’s message to members

As if there wasn’t enough drama already in the latest wave of labor negotiations, the tension between SAG and AFTRA over its upcoming negotiations with producers continues to simmer.

Leaders of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists distribbed a note to members on Thursday that says the guild is aiming to conduct joint primetime contract negotiations with Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, as it has since the early 1980s, but it can’t be sure that joint talks will come to pass now that SAG has made some changes to its end of the so-called Phase One agreement that cemented the joint-bargaining approach for the two orgs.

As far as AFTRA’s concerned, SAG’s moves may well mean that the Phase One pact is history and that the two unions will go it alone next year with the AMPTP. AFTRA has more than 70,000 members; some 42,000 of them are also members of SAG.

(The changes that SAG made to the Phase One deal are way inside-baseball stuff but suffice it to say it’s an effort to ensure that SAG has more clout in voting among the joint negotiating committee.)

AFTRA sez it is planning to meet with SAG officials later this month to hash things out. In the meantime, AFTRA leaders and the steering committee for the contract negotiations will begin meeting with members and finalizing its negotiations strategy in February. No word yet on what AFTRA hopes will be the timetable for its first meet with AMPTP.

Also, AFTRA has another contract negotiation looming much sooner — the non-primetime portion of its contract, which covers a significant swath of AFTRA’s biz: Early morning shows, daytime dramas, talk shows, musical and reality programming and latenight shows. In AFTRA-speak, it’s “front of the book” contract terms that are separate from AFTRA’s primetime deal. That contract was due to expire Nov. 15 but earlier this year, AFTRA and AMPTP agreed to extend the contract to Jan. 31 in recognition that the AMPTP might be preoccupied by its talks with the WGA in November.

As we all know, the timing is still complicated but AFTRA sez it expects to sit down with the majors on that contract by mid-January, though leaders caution that they’ll have to “continue to monitor developments as they evolve — with consideration of the writers and directors represented by our sister unions — and assess the current schedule for the ‘front of the book’ TV Network Code negotiations accordingly.”

Here’s the entire message from AFTRA national prexy Roberta Reardon and national exec director Kim

Roberts Hedgpeth.

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