The studios have hit back at the Screen Actors Guild over the prospect of a strike.
SAG perturbed the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers by asking members for strike authorization over its basic made-for-cable contract rather than accept a proposed 14% increase in residual payments.
The AMPTP announced Monday that the guild had spurned its offer, which would align residuals compensation with the formulas used by the DGA and the WGA, and hadn’t set a date for resuming contract talks. SAG’s seeking strike authorization at five caucuses this week, including meetings Monday in Chicago, Miami and San Francisco, for members who work the cable contract.
“SAG’s reaction is surprising,” said AMPTP prexy Nick Counter. “The offer that’s on the table should close the deal.”
SAG shot back by pointing out that the contract hasn’t been revised in 16 years while basic cable revenues have increased by 500%.
“The 14% increase touted by the industry may sound impressive until one realizes, for example, that it’s less than a $5 raise per run for a day performer who must find a way to support their family and qualify for health insurance each year based on those earnings,” SAG spokesman Seth Oster said.
Counter disclosed details of the offer Monday, seven weeks after contract talks launched under a news blackout. The cable producers have been negotiating individually rather than as part of the AMPTP, but Counter said last week’s strike authorization announcement by SAG prompted the AMPTP to become involved to coordinate strategy.
He also asserted that the cable producers’ offer will give thesps a more favorable package than that for DGA or WGA members because SAG’s current compensation structure doesn’t include a discount for non-network programs. The DGA and WGA pacts provide a discount of more than 30%.
Counter also tweaked SAG for dragging its feet and negotiating in the press.
“What is most perplexing is that the producers of these programs have agreed to meet and finalize an agreement on this basis, but have gotten no response from SAG,” he said. “Au contraire, they read in the trades that SAG is asking for a strike authorization vote.”
Under the current contract, SAG performers receive 12% of the minimum of $716 for the first rerun, down to 1% for the 13th rerun and beyond. The producers’ offer would boost that first rerun figure to 17% and adjust the other percentages to match the figures in the DGA and WGA deals — moves that would boost overall compensation by 14%, according to Counter.
Oster said SAG plans to return to the bargaining table once it completes the caucuses.
“The members of the Screen Actors Guild entered these negotiations in good faith and with a sincere desire to reach an equitable agreement with producers,” he added. “That remains both our hope and goal, so we look forward to resuming these negotiations in good faith following our member caucuses.”
Approval of a strike authorization would be the first step toward a work stoppage on basic cable. SAG’s leaders would still have to OK a strike.
Guild president Alan Rosenberg, who won the office on a platform of more assertive bargaining, is the negotiating committee chair on the basic cable deal. Pact covers programs including “Monk,” “The Closer,” “The Shield,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Wildfire” and “Nip/Tuck.”