SAG/AFTRA Deadline Passes Without Deal With AMPTP

Negotiations continue into the weekend and possibly beyond, with pension and health plans a sticking point.

Today was supposed to be the last day of negotiation between SAG/AFTRA and the AMPTP regarding their TV/theatrical deal. But if you’ve made weekend plans with your favorite management or labor negotiator – tennis? brunch? a day at the beach? – you might want to reschedule.

That’s because the parties are continuing to work tonight and will be back again in the negotiating room tomorrow, a spokesperson said. No further detail was available. The negotiations have been under media blackout since they began September 27.

Other sources were slightly more loquacious, with one telling THR prior to today’s session that a deal seemed possible and another source more uncertain. One source confirmed that, as expected, pension and health plan issues were still a sticking point.

The DGA and WGA have publicly identified P&H as key issues in their upcoming negotiations as well.

Another primary issue for SAG/AFTRA is assumed to be minimum compensation rates. Under the mantra of “cost containment,” the studios have attempted to hold the line at 2% annual wage increases, a level established in negotiations earlier this year with Teamsters Local 399, representing Hollywood truck drivers and others. Bumps as high as 3.5% were the norm just two or three years ago.

Starting this Monday, talks are scheduled between the AMPTP and SAG, but without AFTRA, regarding basic cable. However, if the broader TV/theatrical deal isn’t concluded this weekend, it’s hard to see why the parties would address the specialized intricacies of a basic cable deal. Those discussions might instead be postponed, allowing the SAG/AFTRA - AMPTP talks to continue into next week if necessary.

The week after that, however, is already booked: the DGA is scheduled to begin negotiations Monday, November 15. Of course, if at that time a SAG/AFTRA deal is close but still pending, the DGA might defer for a few days. The reality in Hollywood labor is that there are few firm deadlines.

The SAG/AFTRA and DGA contracts expire June 30. The current WGA contract expires May 1, and no dates have been set for bargaining sessions.