Dueling press releases issued by both sides

After taking a 10-day break from the SAG contract stalemate, the guild and the majors have gone back to the barricades.

Hostilities have resumed with SAG’s leaders sending the 120,000 members a newsletter with returnable postcard in order to increase support for its tactic of holding out for a better deal. The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers fired back Monday by accusing SAG of stalling to mask the lack of a coherent negotiating strategy.

SAG’s contract expired June 30 and actors continue to work under its terms. The two sides — which have not met since July 16 — issued dueling press releases Tuesday with SAG continuing to insist it deserves a better deal than the WGA, DGA and AFTRA and blasting the majors for their refusal to modify the new-media terms of the pact.

“The AMPTP previously suggested that we send their last offer to our members and now that we have done so they object,” SAG national exec director Doug Allen said in a statement. “It is understandable that the studios and networks are concerned about the members’ reaction to a proposal that contains incentives to produce non-union and no residuals for new media productions re-used by streaming on the Internet. It is appropriate that we inform our members and seek their input on these critical matters.”

The AMPTP shot back by deriding the SAG mailing as being untruthful and designed to give SAG negotiators only the answer they want to hear.

“The two questions on the postcard ‘poll’ are written in a completely one-sided way, characterizing the June 30 final offer as unfair,” the companies said. “The 12 pages of material accompanying the postcard are just as one-sided and are filled with misrepresentations.”

And the two sides continued to disagree over the guild’s assertion in the newsletter that back-channel talks are ongoing. “You will no doubt read spin suggesting that there is dead silence between our sides but that is inaccurate,” the guild said.

As it did twice during August, the AMPTP accused SAG of lying.

“The facts are exactly the opposite,” the group said: “No informal negotiations regarding SAG’s TV/Theatrical contract have been going on, and for SAG’s negotiators to suggest otherwise is to intentionally mislead the membership. AMPTP has made the new media template work for directors, writers and actors (in two separate AFTRA agreements), and all have now gone back to work. It’s long past time for SAG members to begin enjoying the higher wages, plan contributions, streaming and other new media residuals already being paid to other guild members.”

SAG’s national board spurned the AMPTP’s final offer on Aug. 21, although reps from New York and the regional branches abstained. It’s asked for members to return the postcards by Sept. 15, three days before its board election ends.

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