Tag Archives: amptp

West Coast SAG members hear leaders’ pitch

After a week of feverish internal conflict, the Screen Actors Guild held its most recent town hall meeting for members Wednesday night at the Hollywood Renaissance hotel. Approximately 570 West Coast members filed in to hear guild leaders Alan Rosenberg and Doug Allen reiterate their pitch for passing a strike authorization.

A similar meeting on Monday night in New York, the locus of the more moderate faction of the guild and about 25% of the membership, followed 36 hours of escalating rhetoric. The gathering devolved into a combative argument over the merits and timing of the vote as well as several calls for the negotiating committee to be replaced and its leaders to resign.

The Hollywood wing of the guild, which reps about 60% of the membership, has generally been much more supportive of guild president Rosenberg and chief negotiator Allen and the authorization vote. Hundreds turned out for an educational town hall meeting held in L.A. last week.

Meanwhile, the guild’s most visible members have turned the spotlight on themselves the last few days with several pointed public statements attempting to persuade voters of the merits of either a yes or a no vote.

On Sunday, a few dozen high-profile actors, including Martin Sheen, Mel Gibson and Ed Harris, signed on to the leadership’s pro-authorization “solidarity” campaign. The following morning, 140-plus actors, including A-listers George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, delivered a petition to guild officers requesting that the authorization vote be rescinded. Since then, both sides have racked up hundreds of signatures in support of their positions.

Last night’s gathering included the Powerpoint presentation about contract issues that Rosenberg and Allen rolled out at the previous confabs, followed by questions from those in attendance. According to one person who was at the Renaissance, many members asked for clarifications on specific details of the current offer and expressed discomfort with the timing of a potential strike given the worsening economy.

On the whole, attendees tilted toward support for the vote and the leadership. But the tone, even among those in opposition to the vote, appeared more civil than that in New York two nights before. Rob Schneider and former guild president Ed Asner, however, did take time at the mike to lambast those high-profile actors who publicly petitioned the leadership on Monday to back away from the authorization vote.

As for the chances that the vote would actually be rescinded: “Little to none,” said Anne-Marie Johnson, first vp and chair of SAG’s Hollywood division, who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter after the meeting.

Strike authorization ballots are scheduled to go out to the 110,000 or so dues-paid members on Jan. 2. The deadline for voting is Jan. 23, when the ballots will be tallied. A 75% or greater “yes” response is required to authorize the guild’s national board to call a strike, should they deem it necessary.

The embattled SAG leaders hope to pass the authorization to put added pressure on the companies represented by the AMPTP to give additional ground in the contract negotiations that have essentially been stalled since July. Despite the intervention of a federal mediator in November, a resolution could not be reached and the AMPTP has maintained that it will not change its final offer as of June 30, the day the existing contract expired.

Rosenberg has insisted that despite the input of the high-profile members, he ultimately needs to hear the voices of the rank and file in the form of the strike authorization vote in January. Many resistant to a yes vote cite the miserable economy and the implication that a vote for authorization is essentially a vote for an actual strike, which could be called in time to torpedo the Oscars and which would wreak havoc with industry workers’ lives.

Given the increasingly public internal debate, passing of the authorization is now deeply in question. Should the authorization vote fail, SAG’s leaders would have few options left other than accepting the offer currently on the table, which the leadership has all but admitted.

According to Johnson, the guild will likely start the new year with further educational meetings and video town halls for regional branches of the guild as the ballots remain in play.

“There were no hidden agendas, which I really appreciated,” said Johnson of Wednesday’s meeting. “New York was all about hidden agendas. Hollywood, it was, ‘C’mon, I have a question, please give me an answer.’ No personality assassinations. No insults. They stuck to the issues. And that’s what it’s all about. Who cares if you don’t like me?”

Source: Hollywood Reporter

AFTRA, producers head back to table

After a second weekend break, AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers head back to the bargaining table Monday to continue formal talks on a new primetime TV contract that expires June 30.

Talks between AFTRA and the AMPTP began May 7 following the suspension of negotiations with sister guild SAG. The two performers unions are negotiating the primetime TV contract separately for the first time in 27 years after a fallout on the eve of formal talks.

Not much has been released about the negotiations between AFTRA and the producers because of a news blackout. However, in an e-mail message to members last week, AFTRA president Roberta Reardon indicated that the two sides were making progress.

In the meantime, Los Angeles SAG members will meet Monday night to discuss the guild’s recent contract talks and the state of the negotiation process. Talks between SAG and the AMPTP began April 15 and broke down May 6 with no new deal. The AMPTP has offered to meet with SAG on May 28, indicating that it expects to finish negotiations with AFTRA in the next week and a half.

In a video message to members posted last week on the union’s Web site, SAG national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen said that the AMPTP suspended the negotiations “in spite of the progress we were making and moves we made in their direction.”

Among the issues Allen said the two sides “spent quite a bit of time” discussing was product placement and integration in film and TV productions and “dealing with the circumstances that actors find themselves in when they’re making scripted content but they’re handed a product to extol or endorse.

“We’ve proposed language that says they should have the right to refuse to do that if they’re not comfortable essentially making a commercial in the middle of scripted content,” he added.

Allen said the union understands product placement is necessary to finance the production, but the actor should have the right to refuse to participate if they have an outside contract that might conflict with the product placement or simply do not want to do it.

He did not, however, indicate whether the two sides came to any sort of agreement on the issue.

Allen also indicated that there were “some boulders in the road,” including the AMPTP’s proposals to create an online clip library in which they want actors to give blanket consent for the use of legally downloaded content. While studios are allowed to use the clips for promotion, any further use requires approval from the actor, pursuant to the union’s contract.

Allen said the AMPTP wants to get rid of that requirement and replace it with a completely unfettered agreement.

“We think that’s a problem,” he said.

As for the May 28 date offered by the AMPTP, SAG has accepted, but Allen said it’s “wasting time” to have a date so far ahead and they should be talking tomorrow.”

“We’re prepared to go back to the table and get this deal done as soon as possible,” he said, adding, “We need their cooperation. We can’t do this by ourselves.”

SAG’s contract also expires June 30.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Actors, producers to continue talks

SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have agreed to continue their formal talks on the actors contract through Tuesday.

In a joint statement, the union and producers said they “have agreed to extend their negotiations on a day-to-day basis, excluding Sunday, through Tuesday, May 6, at 5 p.m. We have no further comment.”

The announcement came as the entertainment industry held its breath Friday to see what, if anything, would come out of what had been the last day scheduled for talks between the two organizations.

Both sides have held formal talks since April 15 on SAG’s contract, which expires June 30. Initially, SAG and the AMPTP had penciled in just two weeks to talk, with AFTRA set to begin its negotiations this past Monday.

But at the urging of the AMPTP, AFTRA leaders agreed to put off their talks by one week, rescheduling their start date to this coming Monday. AFTRA did not immediately comment on the extension.

As of late Friday morning, AFTRA was set to begin negotiations Monday and indicated so in a regular email newsletter to its members indicating talks were starting on the contract, which covers dramas and sitcoms on primetime TV, including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and cable, including HBO and Showtime.

The extension gives a little glimmer of hope on the negotiations, which seemed to take a turn for the worse on Wednesday when the AMPTP sent its members a six-page missive indicating there was little both sides have agreed upon, especially in the DVD/home video residuals front.
The AMPTP indicated that SAG initially in the talks rejected the new media platform that the DGA, WGA and AFTRA in its Network Code had already signed.

Then last week, SAG said it would accept the new media framework, though it sought some 70 changes to it, on the condition that the AMPTP accept the union’s proposals in traditional media.
The AMPTP rejected the offer, saying it included “doubling the existing DVD formula and huge increase in compensation and benefits” which “would result in enormous cost increases that we are not willing to accept.”

SAG responded stating, “The AMPTP knows we did not state that they had to agree to all of our non-new media proposals.”

SAG’s national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen and president Alan Rosenberg have been outspoken about their desire to change the 22-year-old DVD/home video residual formula and have stated they won’t follow the path the other unions have taken in taking the issue off the bargaining table in order to move forward in the talks.

With the talks appearing to break down, many in the industry turned their sites to AFTRA, who is likely to hammer out a deal with the AMPTP in less than two weeks.

The union has already successfully negotiated its Network Code, covering daytime TV and reality programs, with the companies, which AFTRA members ratified with a 93% vote this week.

SAG may have been pressured to continue with the talks, considering AFTRA’s date with the AMPTP. It’s expected that if AFTRA negotiates a deal first, it would open the door to the possibility of the performers union taking over many SAG represented shows. The two performers unions share 44,000 members.

Source: Hollywood Reporter