The Screen Actors Guild and the majors are taking baby steps toward resuming their long-stalled formal negotiations over the feature-primetime contract.
However, there’s widespread skepticism that the diplomatic mission led by federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez will lead to a settlement, even if Gonzalez can persuade both sides to return to bargaining table. Neither side has signaled any softening of its bargaining stance.
Gonzalez met Friday with SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg, national exec director Doug Allen and deputy national exec director for contracts Ray Rodriguez at SAG headquarters in Hollywood. He is skedded to meet with Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reps on Thursday.
SAG issued a bare-bones announcement saying the group discussed the guild’s request for mediation and the possibilities regarding resumption of negotiations.
The AMPTP had no response. The two sides remain far apart in many areas, particularly new media. They last met officially July 16.
When the AMPTP agreed to SAG’s request for mediation last week, it also reiterated its stance that it’s not budging from its final offer, made June 30 as SAG’s feature-primetime contract expired. The org has insisted it cannot meet SAG’s demand for better terms than those it agreed to with the other showbiz unions — particularly with the economy continuing to decline.
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.
SAG’s national board held off Oct. 19 on the question of conducting a strike authorization vote in favor of seeking a mediator. It also decided that if the guild’s negotiating committee determines that the new round of talks has failed, the negotiating committee 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.