Hollywood unions prepare for contract negotiations


Negotiations will begin later this month on new contracts for TV and movie actors with the major Hollywood studios. What’s not likely to happen this time is for either AFTRA or SAG to strike a deal and not the other, since the two unions are back to joint negotiations.

In the last cycle AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, came to terms with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), but SAG, the Screen Actors Guild, had not as the previous contracts expired at the end of June 2008. It was only after many, many months of on again, off again negotiations and an internal power struggle that brought a new faction to control of SAG, that members finally ratified a new contract nearly a year after the old one had expired.

One consequence of the studios having a contract in place with one actors union and not the other was that the overwhelming majority of new TV pilots during that time were shot under AFTRA union representation.

But with new leadership elected at SAG, the rift with AFTRA has been mended and the two agreed back in March to negotiate jointly with AMPTP on their contracts which are set to expire June 30, 2011. Those negotiations with the studios are to begin September 27th.

SAG President Ken Howard and AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon will co-chair the negotiations from the unions’ side. AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth and SAG National Executive Director David White will serve as the unions’ co-lead negotiators.

AMPTP is headed by President Carol Lombardini.

RBR-TVBR observation: This round of contract negotiations is likely to produce less news than the previous one, which you could argue is negative for our business of reporting industry news. But a less-newsworthy round of negotiations and on-time agreements would certainly be better for everyone who works in television and the movie business.