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SAG Talking Over Producers’ Offer

Jul 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The Screen Actors Guild today plans to respond to what media companies termed their final offer in negotiations over a new labor contract, potentially providing a new indication as to whether a strike is more likely.
SAG’s response to the offer from the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers will be a gut-check for the union, which represents an acting community that might be leery of walking off the job after the 100-day Writers Guild of America strike earlier this year crippled the industry.
SAG has been working without a contract since June 30. On July 8, the union will face another turn of the screw in the labor dispute: The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, which also reps actors, will release the results of a ratification vote its members took in May.
Both SAG members and media executives note there are several steps to take before Hollywood has to face another work stoppage. SAG on June 29 released a statement noting it had made no effort to mount a strike authorization vote.
“Any talk about a strike or a management lockout at this point is simply a distraction,” SAG President Alan Rosenberg said in the statement.
The AMPTP on June 30 said that even without a work stoppage, the industry is in a de facto strike, as media companies cringe in preparation for a possible walkout. While the fluidity of negotiations makes it difficult to say how likely a strike is, economists say a walkout would devastate the TV industry and Los Angeles’ already frail economy.
“If you did get a walkout in the industry,” said Jack Kyser, senior VP and chief economist of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., “the damage would be much larger than the writers strike. Hands down.”
Mr. Kyser penned an often-cited report on the WGA strike that put the tab on that labor action at a $2.5 billion loss to Hollywood.
He said a Screen Actors Guild strike would further damage the Los Angeles economy, pushing the local area, already walking on a fine economic edge, into a recession.
The AMPTP has estimated that a SAG strike could cost union members $2.5 million a day, while the California economy would stand to lose $23 million daily.
Within the entertainment industry, below-the-line workers, especially in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, would be affected the most, as production hasn’t ramped back up to normal levels since the writers strike ended.
“These are the people nobody pays attention to,” Mr. Kyser said.
The AMPTP said its latest offer to SAG adds $250 million in additional compensation to union members and gives them sought-after new-media rights.
SAG said the offer didn’t address some key issues important to actors, including residuals on new-media productions.

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