SAG-AFTRA, Companies Extend Contracts for a Third Day; Negotiations Continuing

For the third day in a row, SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have agreed to extend the current TV and movie contracts for 24 hours.

The deals had been set to expire at midnight tonight. Negotiations on a successor deal will resume Thursday.

As with Monday and Tuesday nights, the union and the producers made the joint announcement on Wednesday night with less than an hour before contract expiration. They also continued to offer no further comment.

The talks, which began May 5, have been held under a strict news blackout other than a reference in the Monday announcement that the expirations had been extended due to “productive” negotiations.

SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard (pictured above) has led the negotiating committee for the union, which as about 165,000 members. Carol Lombardini, president of the AMPTP, is the lead negotiator for the companies.

People familiar with the negotiations say that they were originally planned to conclude June 13, but have continued due to unresolved issues raised by the 2012 merger of SAG and AFTRA including whether to combine the SAG and AFTRA contracts into a single successor contract. AFTRA’s TV contract has a higher rate than SAG’s.

Leaders of SAG-AFTRA are self-styled pragmatists who have espoused moderation and opted to avoid confrontation since they came into power in 2009. They have not taken a strike authorization vote.

Those leaders urged members to vote to merger in order to give the union more negotiating power. They also have promised that a merger would be a first step towards combining the separate SAG and AFTRA pension and health plans — and that issue could be a sticking point at the current talks.

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