Media Law Prof Blog

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Louisiana State Univ.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

SAG Headed Toward Strike Vote After Talks Fail

The Screen Actors Guild leadership will ask for a strike vote from the membership after talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers produced no movement over the weekend. The negotiations, under the leadership of a federal mediator, were the first in months. The 12,000 SAG members have been working without a contract since June 30.

Here's part of SAG's press release.

"Our leadership was optimistic that federal mediation would help to move our negotiations forward, but despite the Guild’s extraordinary efforts to reach agreement, the mediation was adjourned shortly before 1:00 a.m. today.

Management continues to insist on terms we cannot responsibly accept on behalf of our members.  As previously authorized by the National Board of Directors, we will now launch a full-scale education campaign in support of a strike authorization referendum.  We will further inform our members about the core, critical issues unique to actors that remain in dispute.

We have already made difficult decisions and sacrifices in an attempt to reach agreement. Now it’s time for SAG members to stand united and empower the national negotiating committee to bargain with the strength of a possible work stoppage behind them.

We remain committed to avoiding a strike but now more than ever we cannot allow our employers to experiment with our careers. The WGA has already learned that the new media terms they agreed to with the AMPTP are not being honored. We cannot allow our employers to undermine the futures of our members and their families.”

Here's part of the AMPTP's press release on the situation.

We are disappointed to report that the federal mediation efforts between SAG and AMPTP failed in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 22nd, when mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez ended the process.

The mediation failed for one fundamental reason:  SAG continued unrealistically to insist on a substantially better deal than all of the other major Hollywood Guilds and Unions have negotiated so far in 2008.  In the end, it was clear that SAG was not serious about using the mediation process to make a deal.  Instead, SAG appears to have manipulated the mediation process in an attempt to achieve precisely the result it has wanted all along:  A strike by SAG members.

SAG has not justified why it deserves to be treated differently than the industry’s other Guilds and Unions – particularly at a time of extraordinary economic distress for both the country and the entertainment business.  SAG refuses to deviate from its unrealistic position, even continuing to cling to its proposal to change the DVD residual formula. 

AMPTP has already negotiated six major labor agreements in 2008 alone, including the pact just concluded with IATSE.   We are prepared to conclude an agreement with SAG, but we simply do not see any justification for SAG receiving more than we have offered - a deal that is every bit as good as the  ones the industry’s other Guilds and Unions have negotiated in far better economic times.

Read SAG's press release here. Read the AMPTP's press release here.

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