SAG, studios face disconnect

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Three weeks after the expiration of their contract, SAG and the AMPTP appear to be living on different planets. SAG says it's still negotiating; the studios say their final offer is languishing on the table. A weekend get-together of the actors union gave little indication that those worlds are getting any closer.

Leaders of SAG spent the weekend trying to convince members that they are still negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. At a regularly scheduled membership meeting Saturday at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City, the union's national executive director Doug Allen and president Alan Rosenberg discussed the state of the talks with about 450 members.

The AMPTP, however, has rejected this interpretation, saying negotiations ended when the contract expired June 30 and the studios made their final offer.

Although film production has slowed, Allen told members they were in a de facto lockout, not a de facto strike. And he pointed to a key sticking point in the AMPTP's offer — emphasizing that SAG should have jurisdiction over all new-media productions, not just some.

Allen also warned members that while there are "sunset provisions" in the AMPTP's final offer, that does not mean that if the actors took the offer now that there would be room for improvement in three years.

Missing from the presentation, however, was any talk of the future of negotiations. No new dates have been set to sit down with the AMPTP's negotiating committee; no timeline about what to expect in coming weeks was mentioned. In fact, SAG leaders told the members they were unable to give specific details of the negotiations, the AMPTP's final offer or the union's counterproposal.

SAG and the AMPTP have not held formal talks since June 30. Since then, there have been three meetings between the sides, including a question-and-answer session on the AMPTP's offer, SAG's response to the offer (which was a counterproposal that the studios rejected) and a two-hour sidebar last week that resulted in "no comments" from both sides.

Those leaving the SAG gathering Saturday said members were mostly upbeat — and, more importantly, supportive of SAG leadership.

"They were not a bunch of revolutionaries waving their flags," said one member, referring to the SAG leaders. "I'm supportive of what the negotiating team is doing. I stand behind them." (partialdiff)
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