SAG, AMPTP to begin talks April 15


RELATED: Unions jostle for lead in AMPTP talks

UPDATED 8:33 p.m. PT April 1, 2008

SAG has beaten AFTRA to the bargaining table.

On April 15, SAG plans to sit down with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers to begin formal negotiations on a new contract.

The meeting is set for 10 a.m. at AMPTP headquarters in Encino.

"Now that we have concluded our wages and working conditions process and the SAG National Board has approved our proposal package, we look forward to productive negotiations," SAG national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen said Tuesday night.

SAG and AFTRA have had separate discussions with representatives of the AMPTP about when they would begin talks on bargaining agreements to replace the pacts set to expire June 30. AFTRA had urged that talks begin as soon as possible, while SAG had appeared to be dragging its feet.

For decades SAG and AFTRA have negotiated such agreements with the AMPTP jointly, but jurisdictional disputes prompted AFTRA to proclaim that it would proceed separately this time. On Saturday, AFTRA said that it would suspend its joint bargaining agreement with SAG and go it alone with the studios. It has not yet set a date to begin talks.

Since then, SAG has been angling to beat its sister performers' union to the negotiating table. The prospects of AFTRA being the first to begin talks with the AMPTP raised the possibility that AFTRA could lock in new terms that then would be forced upon SAG.

Negotiations insiders suggested that AFTRA soon will announce its own timeline for talks with the AMPTP, and it appeared that there is some possibility that it might separately negotiate with the AMPTP even while SAG talks are in progress. However, there appears to be no chance that AFTRA will begin its talks by the time SAG starts its negotiations April 15.

To prepare the way for the formal talks, SAG reps already have had informal meetings with a number of the company CEOs. One or more of those meetings still could take place before the formal negotiations begin.