After a three-month vacation from negotiations, SAG and the congloms may be creeping back to the bargaining table under supervision of a federal mediator.
No date’s been set for the resumption of talks, and the town’s expectations of a resolution remain muted as federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez attempts to break the stalemate.
Gonzalez met for several hours Thursday afternoon with the majors at the Sherman Oaks HQ of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers — six days after holding his first meeting with SAG. He told AMPTP reps at the end of the confab that he’d advise them at some unspecified point of his next step.
The AMPTP issued a brief statement saying it had presented details of its June 30 final offer to SAG, along 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.
Gonzalez is a 1998 graduate of Whittier Law School who’s been with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for nine years. He has some familiarity with the SAG issues, serving a year ago as the mediator for the WGA-AMPTP negotiations, which fell apart on Nov. 4 in a welter of accusations, with the writers striking 100 days before making a deal.
Sources close to the studios said there are two key points for the congloms:
n The AMPTP’s willing to continue with the mediation process but won’t change the new-media framework it’s used for earlier deals with the DGA, WGA and AFTRA.
n Economic conditions have worsened in the four months since SAG received the final offer.
SAG unsuccessfully attempted to restart negotiations 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 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.
The move to the mediator comes with control of SAG’s national board having shifted to a more moderate faction in September elections. Although SAG’s leaders rejected the idea of a mediator in August, its national board voted on Oct. 19 to go that route rather than conduct a strike authorization vote.
Should mediation fail in the eyes of the guild’s negotiating committee, that panel could then ask SAG members for a strike authorization — a process that would take up to 45 days and require more than 75% of members voting to approve for a strike to occur. If SAG members vote up the strike authorization, the guild’s national board would make the final decision on whether to go on strike.