SAG, AFTRA signal negotiations

Joint membership meetings to prep for talks

SAG and AFTRA have given a strong signal they’ll conduct joint negotiations for the commercials contract — six months after AFTRA angrily spilt off on primetime contract talks.

Both unions announced Thursday a series of joint membership meetings to prep for the commercial talks, starting with an Oct. 7 confab in Gotham. The meetings have been set in order for members to hear the results of a Booz Allen Hamilton study, commissioned by the unions and the ad industry, about the changing revenue models in the ad biz due to the impact of new media.

SAG and AFTRA also said the meetings were not part of their official “wages and working conditions” process to develop proposals. “The W&W meetings will occur in November/December after members have had a chance to learn about the study results,” the unions said.

SAG and AFTRA announced in late August that they had agreed to a six-month extension of their commercials contract until March 31. No date’s been set for negotiations but it’s highly unlikely that SAG will be ready to begin talks until it resolves the stalemate over its feature-primetime deal.

SAG and AFTRA leaders had sought the extension from the ad industry after agreeing informally to joint negotiations on the commercials pact. It’s expected that both unions will formally approve joint negotiations at national board meetings next month.

The moves to negotiate jointly come in the wake of a bitter year beteween the unions. AFTRA negotiated a new three-year primetime contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers in late May and AFTRA members ratified the primetime deal in July despite an acrimonious campaign by SAG to vote down the deal.

The feuding played a central role in the subsequent campaign for SAG board seats with members voting last week to push the Membership First faction out of power after a three-run run. During the campaign, the Unite For Strength slate hammered Membership First for bungling the feature-primetime negotiations by alienating AFTRA.

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