Actors Reject ‘Final’ Studio Contract Offer, Again23 Feb, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Citing a “surprise, last-minute demand” by the studios, the Screen Actors Guild’s board of directors Feb. 21 overwhelmingly rejected the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ “last, best and final offer” following intense negotiations Feb. 17-19.
The AMPTP is the union representing Hollywood studios and television networks.
In a 73% to 27% vote, SAG’s board said it refused to agree to a settlement after the studios tacked on an additional year to the previous two-year contract offer.
Led by a new negotiating team, SAG had agreed to revise contract demands in line with separate deals made last year between the AMPTP and guilds representing writers, directors and daytime TV actors.
The actors called the AMPTP’s contract extension to 2012 from 2011 “regressive and damaging,” with the intent to undermine negotiations established with other entertainment unions.
“We entered this round of negotiations sending an unmistakably clear message that we were ready to make a deal,” said SAG, in a statement. “By attempting to extend our contract expiration one year beyond the other unions, the AMPTP intends to deleverage our bargaining position from this point forward.”
Following an internal shakeup that included termination of chief negotiator Doug Allen and fending off a lawsuit brought by SAG president Alan Rosenberg to reinstate Allen, SAG had hoped for a quick resolution to the acrimonious negotiations.
The AMPTP said it had always insisted on a three-year contract in line with other union terms and had modified portions of the agreement dealing with new media in favor of SAG, despite an unprecedented economic recession that “has clobbered our nation and our industry.”
“We simply cannot offer SAG a better deal than the rest of the industry achieved under far better economic conditions than those now confronting our industry,” said the AMPTP, in a statement.
Actors have been working under an interim agreement following the expiration of the previous deal June 30, 2008.