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Studios Rebuff Restoring Contract Talks

30 Sep, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The union representing studios and producers has dismissed efforts by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) to restart labor negotiations that stalled in July.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), in a Sept. 29 letter, said its “final offer” was comparable to similar agreements with the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America and AFTRA. It also called on the actors to recognize the “unprecedented” economic difficulties facing the industry and the nation.

“We do not believe that it would be productive to resume negotiations at this time given SAG’s continued insistence on terms which the companies have repeatedly rejected,” said J. Nicholas Counter, chief negotiator for AMPTP.

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

The actors sent the letter to News Corp. president and COO Peter Chernin, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger and Counter, which reiterated displeasure with the producers’ offer and said putting it to a vote of the SAG membership would serve “no productive purpose.”

In the offer, which included $250 million in pay hikes and jurisdiction of new media, producers agreed to extend SAG jurisdiction to original new-media production, including low-budget programs that employed a single "covered actor," as part of the new contract.

The offer also included language that would allow actors and producers to revisit new media contract terms in three years to revaluate market conditions.

The offer refused to renegotiate current DVD residuals.

SAG national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen said the union was disappointed the AMPTP had refused to engage in the process necessary to complete a deal.

“We do not believe that their rejection of our reasonable request is in the best interests of our members or the industry,” Allen said.  “Our national negotiating committee will be meeting later this week to consider management’s response.”


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