As was widely expected the Producers have put a final offer on the table. In theory the employers could impose the terms of the offer once the current contract expires at midnight tonight. But they have said they will extend the current contract terms while production is underway. They threaten that in fact production is grinding to a halt in what they call a “de facto” strike and will cost actors and the economy millions every day. A quick review of the terms that are available suggests they are broadly in line with those negotiated by the WGA, DGA and AFTRA.
I was interviewed for this story in Bloomberg about the AMPTP offer.
SAG, of course, is free to actually strike if they reject the offer, but SAG has replied by saying it will review the details and that negotiations will continue under the old contract as will production.
It’s not clear if negotiations will, in fact, continue, however. The AMPTP is free to stand on the offer now on the table and force capitulation, a strike or consider a lock-put. It does not seem likely that SAG will just sign on the dotted on line: they are contending the terms appear to be consistent with the AFTRA deal but falls short of SAG’s goals with respect to new media. But there is no sign SAG has the rank and file support necessary to call a strike.
The brief SAG comment is interesting for two reasons:
1) it does not mention the problem of DVD residuals.
This suggests that SAG may have come around to dropping the idea after collapsing from an absurdly unrealistic (from a leverage standpoint not a fairness perspective) demand for a doubling of the residuals to a demand instead that they be increased by 15%; and
2) there is no mention that, of course, the terms are also quite similar to those of the WGA deal.
It has always been somewhat tricky for SAG to campaign against AFTRA’s deal but not also malign the deal the WGA is proud to have won after a 100 day strike even though they are essentially identical.
(The picture on the left is of SAG’s Sandra Oh on the picket line for the WGA.)
Of course SAG leaders had made it their central goal to break with the pattern of those other deals particularly on issues like DVD residuals and new media jurisdiction. However, there is still no indication of what leverage the Guild can put in play to move the Producers towards a better offer.
The first step SAG tried was to get rid of AFTRA, which quickly proceeded to negotiate its own deal, now out for a ratification vote.
When that backfired, SAG began a major PR campaign to defeat the AFTRA vote but all signs point to easy approval of that deal.
A last minute attempt last week in Hollywood by Membership First hard liners David Joliffe and Seymour Cassel to rouse more militant action out of the Hollywood membership – perhaps including a strike authorization vote – fell on deaf ears and according to one account of the meeting sent Doug Allen and Alan Rosenberg fleeing from the room.
My guess at this point? The producers will act high and mighty this week patiently waiting for July 8 and then the hammer will come down. Once the results of the AFTRA ratification vote are in, the Guild will likely feel it has little choice – having wasted its time and precious resources on a futile battle with AFTRA – but to accept some variation of what is on the table.
Then the post mortem fall out will begin. It won’t be pretty.