Federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez has taken the first step in his attempt to re-start the stalled contract negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild and the congloms.
SAG announced late Friday night that Gonzalez had met with SAG president Alan Rosenberg, national exec director Doug Allen and deputy national exec director for contracts Ray Rodriguez at SAG headquarters in Hollywood.
SAG said that the quartet discussed the guild’s request for mediation and the possibilities regarding the resumption of negotiations. It also said that Gonzalez is going to meet with reps of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers next Thursday.
SAG had no further comment. The key question at this point is whether the guild’s leaders are willing to scale back its demands for a better feature-primetime deal than the WGA, DGA and AFTRA received.
No date’s been set for actual resumption of the long-stalled negotiations, however. The two sides remain far apart in many areas, particularly new media, and they last met officially on July 16.
In its statement Thursday, the AMPTP reiterated its oft-stated stance that it’s not budging from its final offer, made June 30 as SAG’s feature-primetime contract expired. The org has insisted that it cannot meet SAG’s demand for better terms than the other showbiz unions — particularly with the overall economy continuing to decline.
The divide between the two sides was evident in the AMPTP’s official response Thursday to SAG’s invitation to mediation.
SAG attempted unsuccessfully to re-start negotiations on Sept. 30, when it announced a trio of “threshold” issues — new-media jurisdiction for all productions, rather than the $15,000 per-minute budget threshold that the majors propose; securing residual fees for made-for-Internet productions when those productions are reused on new-media platforms; and continuing force majeure protections for actors, which the majors have sought to eliminate.
SAG’s national board saw a faction of moderates gain control in last month’s elections from the more assertive Membership First. It held off last Sunday on conducting a strike authorization vote in favor of seeking a mediator.
The national board also decided last weekend that if the guild’s negotiating committee determines that the new round of talks has failed, the negotiating committee would have the power to ask SAG members for a strike authorization — a process that would take 30-45 days and require more than 75% of members voting to approve for a strike to occur.
The national board would have the final decision on a whether to go on strike.