AMPTP meets with mediator next week

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Now a mediator will try his luck. On Thursday, the AMPTP agreed to try and hash out its monthslong stalemate with the actors union by allowing federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez to intercede. SAG's national board had 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."

The producers will apparently first meet alone with Gonzalez on Thursday at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks.

SAG's board is hoping that by bringing in the mediator, it will at least get the AMPTP negotiating again — something it has declined to do since making its $250 million 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 purported differences is the proposal of "French hours," which would take away scheduled breaks and allow actors to take them when it works better for the production schedule.

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

If mediation fails, SAG's negotiating committee is expected to ask the membership for strike authorization.

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

"We have 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. (partialdiff)
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