Union withdraws from Phase One agreement

With feature-primetime contract negotiations looming, AFTRA has declared war on SAG and carried through on its threat to negotiate a separate deal with the majors.

SAG announced Saturday afternoon that AFTRA had withdrawn from Phase One joint bargaining.

The unions had been scheduled to give final approval Saturday at a joint board meeting to a contract proposal to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Had that happened, informal talks would have started over the next few days.

Instead, the AMPTP must now decide whether to start negotiations first with AFTRA or SAG. It is likely that the majors would prefer going first with AFTRA, since it covers only three primetime shows under the contract and has been far more moderate than SAG.

The AMPTP responded late Saturday by saying it was pleased that AFTRA is ready to negotiate while not mentioning SAG. And it noted that it had told the actors unions seven weeks ago that it was ready to start negotiations.”

The current feature-primetime contract expires June 30.

AFTRA leaders voted at their national board meeting Saturday to dissolve the 27-year Phase One bargaining partnership after multiple disagreements with SAG on jurisdictional issues such as AFTRA offering lower initial terms on basic cable and SAG exploring moving into AFTRA’s turf in soap operas.

AFTRA leaders were also perturbed over SAG’s attempts over the past year to seek more seats on the joint bargaining committee — which is split 50-50 even though SAG covers the lions share of work.

Upon conclusion of their national meeting, AFTRA president Roberta Reardon and national officers including Susan Boyd Joyce, Denny Delk, Bob Edwards, Matt Kimbrough and Shelby Scott entered SAG’s national board meeting and reported their board’s effective termination of Phase One and declared that they will not negotiate jointly with SAG the TV Theatrical contract, including their Exhibit A.

Reardon made the following statement regarding the meeting today: “For the past year SAG leadership in Hollywood has engaged in a relentless campaign of disinformation and disparagement, culminating in a recent attempt to decertify an AFTRA daytime soap opera. As a result of this continued and ongoing behavior by SAG leadership, which at its core harms all working performers and the labor movement, we find ourselves unable to have any confidence in their ability to live up to the principles of partnership and union solidarity.”

SAG president Alan Rosenberg said: “We remain focused on negotiating the best terms for actors covered by the TV Theatrical contract. We spent weeks working with our fellow actors in AFTRA on joint proposals to improve the lives of all working actors. AFTRA’s refusal now to bargain together and their last second abandonment of the joint process is calculated, cynical and serves the interests of their institution, not its members.”

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