SAG rebuffs studios’ contract proposal
The major Hollywood studios called on the Screen Actors Guild on Thursday to put their final contract offer to a membership vote, a proposal the union rejected, continuing the stalemate in negotiations.
As expected, the largest actors union did not accept what the studios called their final offer, which they said contained more than $250 million in improvements over the previous three-year contract, which expired June 30.
But SAG maintains that the proposed contract doesn’t meet its key goals, including higher payments for actors from DVD sales and guarantees that all programs created for the Web will be covered under the contract. The guild made a counteroffer Thursday that adopted some of the studios’ proposals. The studios, however, rejected it.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, offered SAG an accord similar to one recently negotiated by the smaller actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, that SAG blasted as unacceptable.
Despite the guild’s costly campaign to persuade members of its sister union to reject the agreement, AFTRA members ratified the contract this week, putting more pressure on SAG to reach a deal and creating some hope in the industry that a strike is less likely.
Still, no quick resolution to the dispute is in sight. The parties have not decided when discussions will resume.
SAG leaders want to keep talks alive in the hopes of negotiating better terms. Insiders say SAG could also use the extra time to build support from members through an educational campaign similar to the one the guild led against the AFTRA agreement.
Studios are being careful to avoid any rash actions, such as imposing a lockout or enforcing contract terms, that might backfire and create support for SAG leaders. The longer that actors work without a contract, the thinking goes, the more pressure will mount on the guild’s leaders to conclude a deal.
The studios have said that the proposed wage and salary increases would be retroactive to July 1 if SAG ratified the agreement by Aug. 15. If not, there would be no back payments.