The studios haven’t formally responded to a call by the Screen Actors Guild to have a federal mediator try to restart stalled contract talks. The SAG board has also given its negotiators authority to call for a strike vote. “Our number one goal remains securing a good contract without a strike,” insisted SAG National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Doug Allen.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which negotiates on behalf of the major studios, did not comment directly on the idea of adding a federal mediator to the talks. However, it indicated that there is really nothing new to talk about. “There is simply no justification for SAG to expect a deal that is in excess of what the other guilds negotiated in better times,” AMPTP said in a statement.
The decision by the SAG board to both call for a mediator and allowing the negotiators to call a strike vote appeared to be an attempt at a compromise between the militants who still control the union and moderates who made big gains in the recent SAG elections. The board also voted to add four new members to the current 13-member negotiating committee and the Los Angeles Times reports that three of those seats are to go to the moderates.
While the negotiating committee now has authority to call a strike vote, strike authorization would require approval by 75% of all SAG members who vote. Even then, it would be up to then union’s board to actually call a strike.
“We hope mediation will help move this process forward. This action by the board demonstrates our commitment to bargain with the strength of our unified membership behind us. Economic times are tough for all Americans, but we must take a stand for what is fair,” said SAG National President Alan Rosenberg.
AMPTP has repeatedly urged SAG to put the “final offer” from the studios to a vote of the union membership. AMPTP has refused to budge on giving SAG better terms on digital media payments and union staffing than other unions got in their contracts.
RBR/TVBR observation: Here’s hoping the talk of a strike vote is just posturing on the part of the union. The idea of calling a strike in the current economic environment is stupid beyond belief.