Talks break down between SAG-AFTRA & US studios

Talks break down between SAG-AFTRA & US studios

Negotiations this week between US performer unions SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have ground to a halt.

US media now report the gap between the two parties as being “too great.”

The development came after the fifth day of negotiations since SAG-AFTRA went on strike on July 14.

Representing AMPTP were NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, and Disney’s Bob Iger, joined by executives from others studios.

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland were joined by other guild leaders.

The news strikes a major blow to industry workers who were hoping that the actors strike would conclude imminently, given the two parties’ quick return to negotiations following the end of the WGA strike and the entrance of major company CEOs into the bargaining room.

SAG-AFTRA statement:

Dear SAG-AFTRA Members,

It is with profound disappointment that we report the industry CEOs have walked away from the bargaining table after refusing to counter our latest offer. We have negotiated with them in good faith, despite the fact that last week they presented an offer that was, shockingly, worth less than they proposed before the strike began.

These companies refuse to protect performers from being replaced by AI, they refuse to increase your wages to keep up with inflation, and they refuse to share a tiny portion of the immense revenue YOUR work generates for them. We have made big, meaningful counters on our end, including completely transforming our revenue share proposal, which would cost the companies less than 57¢ per subscriber each year. They have rejected our proposals and refused to counter.

Instead they use bully tactics. Just tonight, they intentionally misrepresented to the press the cost of the above proposal – overstating it by 60%. They have done the same with A.I., claiming to protect performer consent, but continuing to demand “consent” on the first day of employment for use of a performer’s digital replica for an entire cinematic universe (or any franchise project).

The companies are using the same failed strategy they tried to inflict on the WGA – putting out misleading information in an attempt to fool our members into abandoning our solidarity and putting pressure on our negotiators. But, just like the writers, our members are smarter than that and will not be fooled.

We feel the pain these companies have inflicted on our members, our strike captains, IATSE, Teamsters and Basic Crafts union members, and everyone in this industry. We have sacrificed too much to capitulate to their stonewalling and greed. We stand united and ready to negotiate today, tomorrow, and every day.

Our resolve is unwavering. Join us on picket lines and at solidarity events around the country and let your voices be heard.

One day longer. One day stronger. As long as it takes.

Your TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee.

AMPTP statement:

Negotiations between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA have been suspended after SAG-AFTRA presented its most recent proposal on October 11. After meaningful conversations, it is clear that the gap between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA is too great, and conversations are no longer moving us in a productive direction.

SAG-AFTRA’s current offer included what it characterized as a viewership bonus that, by itself, would cost more than $800 million per year – which would create an untenable economic burden. SAG-AFTRA presented few, if any, moves on the numerous remaining open items.

Member company executives and AMPTP representatives met with SAG-AFTRA for five days over the past eight workdays. During that time period, AMPTP extended offers including:

      • A first-of-its-kind success-based residual for High-Budget SVOD productions.
      • The highest percentage increase in minimums in 35 years, which would generate an additional $717 million in wages and $177 million in contributions to the Pension and Health Plans during the contract term.
      • A 58% increase in salaries for major role (guest star) performers wages on High Budget SVOD Programs.
      • A 76% increase in High Budget SVOD foreign residuals for the four largest streaming services.
      • Substantial increases in pension and health contribution caps, ranging from 22-33%, which will make it easier for performers to qualify for additional periods of health coverage and earn years of service toward a pension.
      • Meeting nearly all of the Union’s demands on casting, including guardrails around self-tapes, options for virtual and in-person auditions, and accommodations to performers with disabilities.
      • Compensation adjustments of 25% for singers who dance and dancers who sing on camera in the same session, whether in rehearsal or photography, representing a 30% increase over current wages.
      • Wage increases for stunt coordinators of 10% in the first year and outsized increases in years two and three, and giving television stunt coordinators fixed residuals for the first time ever.
      • Substantial improvements in relocation allowance – a 200% increase if the performer is on an overnight location for 6 months. The relocation allowance would now be payable for every season in which the performer is on an overnight location (versus a current limit of two to four seasons).
      • Substantial increases in Schedule F money breaks of between 11% and 41%. The 41% increase applies to one-hour television programs, which covers the largest number of productions done under the Agreement.
      • A 25% increase in span money breaks.
      • Covering performance capture work under the Agreement, which the Union has sought for 20 years.

On AI protections:

      • Advance consent from the performer and background actor to create and use Digital Replicas;
      • No Digital Replica of the performer can be used without the performer’s written consent and description of the intended use in the film;
      • Prohibition of later use of that Replica, unless performer specifically consents to that new use and is paid for it; and,
      • A “Digital Alteration” that would change the nature of an actor’s performance in a role is not permitted without informing the performer of the intended alteration and securing the performer’s consent.

On common issues, such as general wage increases, High-Budget SVOD residuals, and viewership bonuses, the AMPTP offered the same terms that were ratified by the DGA and WGA. Yet SAG-AFTRA rejected these.

We hope that SAG-AFTRA will reconsider and return to productive negotiations soon.

Source: Deadline, Hollywood Reporter