SAG-AFTRA commercials contract expires

Extension of negotiations most likely next move

UPDATE: SAG, AFTRA reach commercials contract

Another deadline has come and gone, and SAG has another expired contract.

Although commercials contract negotiations have been ongoing at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in New York since Feb. 23 (with a week off in March), SAG and AFTRA have not yet reached a tentative agreement with the ad industry repped by the Joint Policy Committee. The old contract expired Tuesday at midnight, and until a new agreement is reached union performers will operate under most of the parameters of the existing deal.

So, what now? Since SAG and AFTRA have not pitched their members on a strike authorization, what few leaks there have been have indicated that progress, however slow, is being made, meaning an extension of negotiations is the likeliest answer.

"Most likely the parties will agree to an extension while they continue their negotiations," says Ivy Kagan Bierman, an industry labor lawyer and partner at Loeb & Loeb. "Given the complexity of the issues that they're negotiating -- because they really are trying to rework the compensation structures -- I think that they will probably agree to another extension while they continue to try to work through these issues."

JPC lead negotiator Douglas Wood of Reed Smith had been giving mildly optimistic updates on his blog over the past few weeks, while SAG and AFTRA stayed mum. His last, from Monday, struck a relatively nonchalant tone.

"While both sides have made major progress and I remain cautiously optimistic, the next couple of days will be critical to reaching a new agreement," Wood wrote. "In the meantime, there is no reason to believe that there will be any immediate disruption in commercial production even if we don't come to a final agreement. ... Both sides continue to have open and productive negotiations."