SAG situation stalled

Guild, AMPTP remain at loggerheads for now

With the town remaining unsettled over a potential strike, the stalemate between SAG and the major studios will stay in place until next week.

The two sides met for four hours Wednesday afternoon in a session set up for SAG to ask questions about the congloms’ final offer, two days after the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers pulled the plug on further negotiations.

“SAG asked for more time to study our final offer and indicated it will contact the producers on Monday.” the AMPTP said. “We remain hopeful that SAG will advise that it is accepting our final offer. No further meetings are scheduled.”

SAG also indicated it’s done with meetings with the congloms until it formulates its official response to the final offer. That’s probably not going to happen until after SAG’s rival union AFTRA announces the results of its deal ratification vote on Tuesday.

The offer, which mirrors the primetime deal reached by AFTRA, was made a few hours before SAG’s feature-primetime contract expired on Monday. With no news emerging from the meeting Wednesday, the biz found itself in the second day of an uneasy detente.

Neither side has yet made any overtly hostile moves. SAG hasn’t taken any steps toward a strike authorization, and the companies haven’t yet implemented a lockout of actors.

And despite the offer being a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, SAG still hasn’t officially responded beyond stating Wednesday that its negotiating committee was “mindful of its obligation to advance actors’ interests and to safeguard the protections our contracts afford them.”

SAG has opposed AFTRA deal emphatically, targeting the 44,000 guild members who are dual cardholders.

SAG launched a third round of automated phone calls to members Wednesday with Sean Penn urging a “no” vote by saying the AFTRA deal falls short of fair compensation, represents “corporate appeasement” and will have an “irreversible” negative impact. SAG had used Sandra Oh and Ed Asner for the previous robo-calls.

SAG insiders have maintained that if the AFTRA vote passes by a relatively small margin, it will strengthen SAG’s hand in seeking a better deal than AFTRA’s. But aHollywood labor official asserted that SAG has put so much effort into defeating the AFTRA deal that it won’t gain any leverage if the pact’s ratified — as is widely expected.

“The final offer from the companies may not be completely final, but it’s going to be damn close,” the insider added. “And with the economy going into a recession, SAG’s not going to be able to persuade its members to go on strike.”

SAG’s anti-AFTRA efforts are unprecedented within Hollywood and underline the deep divisions between the two unions over jurisdiction. The guild’s campaign has been perceived as a method for the guild leadership to find out if SAG’s rank-and-file has the stomach for a strike without the potential embarrassment of losing a strike authorization vote — which requires 75% approval.

For its part, AFTRA has continued to urge its 70,000 members to turn in their votes ASAP. And it remains dismissive of SAG’s complaints that AFTRA is dominated by broadcasters, noting that 74% of its members are actors.

“One may want to question whether SAG is just trying to save face as their backs are against the wall — and they have no strategy,” a source close to AFTRA said. “SAG is conveniently critical of  the AFTRA membership base, making false claims to push their disinformation, as they face likely defeat in their anti-AFTRA campaign.”

SAG appears to have ratcheted back expectations from three weeks ago, when it launched the anti-AFTRA campaign with the assertion, “This is a righteous fight, and we believe that with your support, we will prevail.”

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