Rosy thesp outlook

Unions, studios renew talks sans strike likelihood

HOLLYWOOD — Film-TV contract negotiations between actors and studios resume today after a six-day break amid continued expectations that a deal will be worked out without a strike.

Today’s session, which has been set aside for subcommittee meetings rather than face-to-face negotiations, will take place with a cautiously optimistic outlook.

That tone has been bolstered by a lack of militancy among members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists about bargaining-table issues such as pay for middle-class actors, diversity, runaway production and Internet jurisdiction.

Even though the current pact expires in only 32 days, the unions have conducted only a cursory contract campaign, with one news conference and one town-hall meeting that drew under 100 members.

Desire not to strike

SAG and AFTRA leaders have said repeatedly they do not want to strike; the unions have ditched plans for an external contract campaign involving other unions; and the joint negotiating committee has not announced any plans to ask the 135,000 union members for a strike authorization.

By contrast, at the same juncture of negotiations with advertisers last year, SAG and AFTRA had started campaigning for strike authorization with a town-hall meeting at the Hollywood Palladium that drew 1,500 members.

The unions held similar events in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco, and the strike authorization was endorsed by 93% of those voting, prompting a 150-0 vote by the joint national boards to start what became a six-month work stoppage.

The unions’ approach to the current talks had been so low-key that execs were surprised by the aggressiveness of the initial SAG/AFTRA offer when talks opened May 15. But execs remain confident an agreement will be achieved without a work stoppage.

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