SAG agrees to meet with mediator

Guild, AMPTP negotiations still up in the air

SAG’s taken another small step toward possible resumption of its long-stalled negotiations, agreeing to meet for a second session with a federal mediator on Wednesday.

No date’s been set for restarting talks between the Screen Actors Guild and the majors, but that announcement could come as early as this week. SAG’s feature-primetime contract expired June 30, and the guild last met officially with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television producers on July 16.

SAG made a brief announcement Friday about the upcoming meeting with Juan Carlos Gonzalez — a day after Gonzalez held his initial meeting with the congloms.

The guild’s first meeting with Gonzalez came Oct. 24 with president Alan Rosenberg, national exec director Doug Allen and contracts chief Ray Rodriguez attending. Wednesday’s meeting will include SAG’s negotiating committee, which was recently expanded from 13 to 17 members.

SAG’s leaders have been adamant over the past four months that the AMPTP’s final offer is unacceptable, particularly in its new-media provisions. But since requesting mediation two weeks ago, SAG has refrained from restating that position, other than an Oct. 19 statement from Rosenberg in which he said, “Economic times are tough for all Americans, but we must take a stand for what is fair.”

For its part, the AMPTP’s reiterated that it won’t change the general terms of the final offer. It announced last week that it had provided Gonzalez with background information on the major labor agreements it reached earlier this year with WGA, DGA and AFTRA — which contain terms similar to the offer to SAG.

SAG’s leaders rejected the idea of a mediator in August, but its national board saw control shift to moderates in September elections, which led to the request for mediation on Oct. 19 rather than conducting a strike authorization vote. The guild’s negotiating committee can ask SAG members for a strike authorization should mediation fail.

The authorization would have to draw more than 75% approval from members voting for a strike to occur. The guild’s national board would have the final decision on whether to go on strike.

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