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SAG-AFTRA, Producers Making Progress as Midnight Strike Deadline Looms

SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood’s production companies were making progress toward a possible deal with less than eight hours left before the current master contract expires.

If no deal is reached by 12:01 a.m. PDT on Saturday, the union has promised to seek a strike authorization vote from its members.

Bargaining continued Friday afternoon under a month-long news blackout at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Sources told Variety that negotiators have been able to move closer to agreement on several issues such as travel allowances and compensation for high-budget productions for streaming services but cautioned there’s no guarantee of a tentative deal getting made by the end of Friday.

It’s possible that SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP could extend the current contract if both sides believe they are making enough progress to merit continuing the negotiations. In 2014, the two sides agreed to three consecutive 24-hour extensions after the contract expired before announcing an agreement in the early hours of July 4.

Hollywood has been on high alert about a possible strike this week. After making no disclosure during the negotiations, the SAG-AFTRA national board announced on June 25 that it had passed a unanimous vote that it would seek a strike authorization from its membership unless a deal was reached by the expiration of the contract. The leaders said at that point that the AMPTP had been pushing for “outrageous rollbacks” in the negotiations — but never disclosed what the specifics were.

Members who attended a closed-door meeting at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, Calif., on June 28 indicated that an array of issues remained unresolved. The contract covers work by SAG-AFTRA members in primetime television and feature films and generates more than $1 billion in annual compensation. The union has about 160,000 members.

SAG-AFTRA began campaigning this week for support of the strike authorization with a #actorsunited hashtag on Twitter and set four more meetings for members to support the 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, so it’s unclear when a strike would begin.

SAG-AFTRA has been on strike against 11 video game companies since October over issues covering voice actors. A significant portion of video game voice work is performed outside of the union’s jurisdiction.

SAG-AFTRA has held four rallies in the Los Angeles area since the strike began but the video game companies have not budged and no new talks have been scheduled.

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