AMPTP agrees to meet with mediator

SAG hopes move will bring producers back to the table

If it's a mediator SAG wants. It's a mediator SAG will get.

On Thursday, the AMPTP agreed to try to hash out its months-long stalemate with the actors union by meeting with federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez.

SAG's national board voted Sunday to bring in the mediator.

In a statement, the AMPTP said, "We are, of course, willing to meet with a federal mediator in the hopes of achieving our fifth guild agreement this year. But we are also realistic: It will be very difficult to reach an agreement if SAG continues to insist unreasonably that it deserves a better deal than the ones achieved by other entertainment guilds during far better economic times."

A source close to the producers said they will first meet alone with the mediator next Thursday at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks.

Sources close to SAG's board are hoping that by bringing in the mediator it will at least get the AMPTP negotiating again, which it has refused to do since making its $250 million final offer to the union on June 30. The AMPTP has held firm that its offer is the best SAG will get.

But many SAG board members say the offer by the AMPTP is less than what the studios and production companies successfully bargained with sister union AFTRA on its primetime/TV contract. Among the differences, sources say, is the proposal of "French hours," which would take away scheduled breaks and allow actors to take them when it works better with the production schedule.

The AMPTP has refuted that contention and has pointed to SAG's comments after the final offer was made was that it was consistent with AFTRA's deal.

If the mediator fails, SAG's negotiating committee will ask the membership for strike authorization.

The AMPTP said that its ability to reach four major labor agreements this year -- with the WGA, DGA and AFTRA -- demonstrates its willingness to bargain reasonably.

"We have also offered compromises to SAG already, in a package that includes more than $250 million in economic gains and groundbreaking new media rights," the AMPTP said.
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