IATSE, majors resume negotiations

Talks to begin next Monday

With SAG waiting in the wings, IATSE and the majors will return to the bargaining table Monday — seven months after they concluded three days of negotiations without reaching a deal.

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees had no comment Thursday about the resumption of the talks, which have been set to take place over three days next week.

The AMPTP and IATSE held the last round of talks in April — more than a year before the conclusion of the current deal, which expires in August 2009 and covers about 25,000 West Coast workers in 18 locals. Both sides said at the the time that those talks covered new media, minimums and the pension and health plans.

 IATSE has traditionally held its talks long before the contract expiration, a strategy is based on the notion that at that point, the majors are willing to make a deal that’s most favorable to the union in exchange for labor stability. That approach was a hallmark during the 14 years that Thomas Short headed the below-the-line union; Short retired in July and was replaced by Matthew Loeb, who had been division director of motion picture and television production for the past decade.

If the AMPTP can make a deal with IATSE, it will mark the sixth such pact it’s signed by the majors this year, following deals with the DGA, WGA, casting directors and two TV agreements with AFTRA.

As for the Screen Actors Guild, its negotiating committee met Wednesday with federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez about its stalled contract negotiations. SAG and the AMPTP have had no official comment about that session — the second between the guild and Gonzalez — and no date’s been set for restarting talks between SAG and the majors.

The AMPTP made its final offer to SAG on its feature-primetime contract on June 30, hours before that pact expired, and the guild last met officially with the congoms on July 16. The guild requested mediation on Oct. 19 and its first meeting with Gonzalez came five days later with president Alan Rosenberg, national exec director Doug Allen and contracts chief Ray Rodriguez attending; the AMPTP met with Gonzalez on Oct. 30.

SAG’s leaders have insisted that the AMPTP’s final offer is unacceptable, particularly in its new-media provisions. For its part, the AMPTP’s reiterated it won’t change the final offer, noting that its terms are similar to those reached in the WGA, DGA and AFTRA deals.

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