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SAG-AFTRA, Producers Nearing Strike Vote Deadline

SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood’s production companies continued bargaining  Thursday with one day left before the current master contract expires — which will trigger a strike authorization vote if there’s no deal.

Negotiation continued under a month-long news blackout at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in Encino, a day after several hundred SAG-AFTRA members were briefed on the negotiations by their leaders at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City.

Wednesday night’s gathering was the first of five scheduled by the union to persuade members to support a strike authorization. Upcoming meetings have been set for New York on July 6, the Washington, D.C., area on July 7, Atlanta on July 8 and Chicago on July 9. SAG-AFTRA has not disclosed the schedule for sending out ballots.

The SAG-AFTRA national board said in a unanimous vote on June 25 that it would seek a strike authorization from its membership unless a deal is reached by Friday. The leaders said the AMPTP had been pushing for “outrageous rollbacks” in the negotiations — believed to be on issues such as adjusted compensation for shorter TV seasons and travel expenses.

The SAG-AFTRA constitution requires that 75% of those voting approve the strike authorization for it to be effective. The AMPTP has not responded to a request for comment.

Several sources told Variety that the saber-rattling was indicative that the union believes the producers can be persuaded to sweeten their offer, adding that it’s uncertain that the companies are willing to do so.

SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP negotiated for three days after the contract expired in 2014 with three separate 24-hour extensions. David White, the union’s national executive director since it was created in a 2012 merger of SAG and AFTRA, is the lead negotiator. AMPTP President Carol Lombadini heads negotiations for the companies.

The contract covers work by SAG-AFTRA members in primetime television and feature films. The union has about 160,000 members.

SAG-AFTRA has been on strike against 11 videogame companies since October over issues covering voice actors. It has held four boisterous rallies in the Los Angeles area, each drawing several hundred members, since the strike began.

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