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SAG Rejects 'Final' AMPTP Offer

28 Jul, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The Screen Actors Guild's (SAG) national board of directors July 26 unanimously rejected the “final” contract offer from the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which included $250 million in pay hikes and jurisdiction of new media.

The labor contract between SAG and the AMPTP expired June 30, but continues to be honored on an interim basis.

The AMPTP said it would not alter its proposal.

Producers have offered to extend SAG jurisdiction to original new-media production, including low-budget programs that employ a single "covered actor," as part of the new contract.

The final offer includes provisions that would allow actors and producers to re-visit new media contract terms in three years to revaluate market conditions.

Doug Allen, SAG national executive director and chief negotiator, contends the AMPTP offer still has few safeguards for actors.

“The problem is they're asking us to accept a deal that doesn't have the minimum standards necessary to protect actors and has negative consequences that could last for decades and really affect the professional actor in maintaining their lives and families without having a second or third job,” Allen said.

Separately, SAG's board passed a resolution reiterating that no non-union work would be authorized under any SAG agreement, including new media, during the interim period.

“For some time, we have been telling the industry how important it is for all new-media productions under our contract to be done union and how important residuals for made-for new-media programming are when programs are rerun on new media,” Allen said. “I am very pleased that our national board … unanimously confirmed these essential principles in support of our national negotiating committee.”

The AMPTP contends SAG has permitted non-union Internet production under its contract since 2001.

Last month, New York SAG leaders criticized efforts by guild national leaders to fund an educational campaign aimed at undermining a recent contract settlement between American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and AMPTP.

Usually operating under the SAG corporate umbrella, AFTRA leaders broke away and signed their own labor agreement with AMPTP that essentially mirrored previous deals between producers and the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America.

Those agreements included substantial pay hikes and jurisdiction on new media, i.e. Internet streaming and downloads, but ignored increased residuals for DVD, a long-running sore point to SAG leaders.

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