SAG-AFTRA, Companies Extend Contracts for a Third Day; Negotiations Continuing

Ken Howard Sag Afra Contract Talks
Jim Spellman/WireImage

For the third day in a row, SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have agreed to extend the current TV and movie contracts for 24 hours.

The deals had been set to expire at midnight tonight. Negotiations on a successor deal will resume Thursday.

As with Monday and Tuesday nights, the union and the producers made the joint announcement on Wednesday night with less than an hour before contract expiration. They also continued to offer no further comment.

The talks, which began May 5, have been held under a strict news blackout other than a reference in the Monday announcement that the expirations had been extended due to “productive” negotiations.

SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard (pictured above) has led the negotiating committee for the union, which as about 165,000 members. Carol Lombardini, president of the AMPTP, is the lead negotiator for the companies.

People familiar with the negotiations say that they were originally planned to conclude June 13, but have continued due to unresolved issues raised by the 2012 merger of SAG and AFTRA including whether to combine the SAG and AFTRA contracts into a single successor contract. AFTRA’s TV contract has a higher rate than SAG’s.

Leaders of SAG-AFTRA are self-styled pragmatists who have espoused moderation and opted to avoid confrontation since they came into power in 2009. They have not taken a strike authorization vote.

Those leaders urged members to vote to merger in order to give the union more negotiating power. They also have promised that a merger would be a first step towards combining the separate SAG and AFTRA pension and health plans — and that issue could be a sticking point at the current talks.

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  1. Matt Mulhern says:

    They can extend it until Christmas. The membership was LIED to about merger and therefore, they made the wrong choice.

    We married our problem, AFTRA, instead of divorcing our problem, AFTRA, by going and filing a claim with the NLRB to re-establish the last NLRB sanctioned SAG jurisdiction: “All movies” (no matter the method of capture – so forget the digital argument) and “all scripted programming for television.”

    AFTRA “Live TV, or, television performed in a live manner.” Which meant LIVE. It was a ruling in 1950 when live TV was huge in NYC.

    We CANNOT strike in SAG-AFTRA, because SAG-AFTRA no longer has the power to FORCE its A-list to support a strike, as SAG did with Rule One.

    If a strike were to occur (and the whole reason we merged was not to strike – if Howard ends up asking for a strike authorization? He can kiss my ass) SAG-AFTRA can’t put the non-union genie it created upon merger, back in the bottle, therefore it can’t strike and enforce ALL its actors to abide by the strike, because those actors who are about to lose a house or a car? WON’T.

    Why? Because SAG-AFTRA has NO LEGAL BASIS on which to FORCE them NOT to work non-union. SAG did. Rule One. ALL SAG actors work SAG. PERIOD.

    If you got caught crossing a picket line? Your career MIGHT be over. SAG-AFTRA cannot legally enforce that – and THAT is the only leverage, when negotiations got rough – SAG ever had.

    “Well, we’re going back and forth, the deal, in our opinion, isn’t remotely fair to actors, so we are getting a strike authorization and we will strike if we have to.”

    THAT IS WHY the last TV/Theatrical strike was in 1980, because PRE – the Ken Howard Administration, the AMPTP KNEW it had to be reasonable OR SAG WOULD STRIKE AND TAKE ALL MOVIES AND 95% OF ALL SCRIPTED PROGRAMMING FOR TV WITH IT.

    So, the AMPTP avoided being crazy in negotiations – because even the threat of a strike cost BIG money – because it threw doubt into investors regarding upcoming production, so projects got delayed, and sometimes did NOT come back once the strike was settled.

    BUT, the ONLY power we EVER had was to threaten to shut the industry down OVERNIGHT if they didn’t play fair, hence VERY FEW STRIKES.

    The HOWARD ADMINISTRATION? GAVE THAT AWAY. Until we solve THAT basic problem by REMOVING Screen Actors from a union that includes no really enforceable Rule One, with half of the entity – AFTRA – having allowed screen actors, commercial actors and V.O. actors to work non-union ALL THE TIME WITHOUT PENALTY (a TOP AFTRA staffer told me that) and includes a whole WING – broadcasters – that works non-union ALL THE TIME? STILL?

    We will not get fair, progressive deals, because we cannot compel the actors the industry MUST have – to strike, whether they want to or not – to support the needs of the 99% of us, the rank and file, BOTH of whom WILL do non-union, rather than lose their house, or car, or have to pull their kid out of private school, cause in Hollywood? Perception is EVERYTHING, right? Yup.

    So, actors in a strike by SAG-AFTRA, if there ever was one – which there would HAVE to be to get BACK what we gave away in 2009 – and – get a FAIR deal in new media? (our ENTIRE future as a profession) – because they know LEGALLY, there is nothing SAG-AFTRA can do to them – WILL work non-union. When they get to the point of taking a HUGE hit financially, and MOST of them will? They’ll work non-union, cause there’s nothing SAG-AFTRA can do to them that they couldn’t get thrown out in a court of law in ten minutes given the make up of this new union plus AFTRA’s LONG history of NON-UNIONISM, which is STILL IN PLACE IN SAG-AFTRA (broadcasters) . WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT THE AMPTP WANTS.

    SAG could threaten a REAL strike to get fair deals. THAT’S why there were so FEW strikes. SAG-AFTRA can’t. HUGE difference. Unionism IS “enforced solidarity.”

  2. Let’s us hope that SAG-AFTRA will get it right, and understand the importance of getting a good Internet distribution media contract, or we will all be screwed and Acting will not be a Fun Fulfilling Job that pays the bill, it will be nothing more than an expense hobby.

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