Slow Progress For SAG Negotiations

By Caillan
June 21, 2001 - 12:01 PM

With only nine days remaining before the expiration of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) contract with Hollywood studios, the snail's pace of the talks may leave negotiators with little room to manoeuver.

"There is no appreciable progress," an industry source told "They're not doing sh*t. [The unions] are still doing presentations on what all their different proposals mean."

The two sides have apparently made progress on one aspect of the talks, but there are still 63 outstanding issues to be resolved, 44 from the actors and another 19 put forward by the producers. As the talks drag on, both sides run the risk that many of these areas of contention may not be explored.

Prominent figures in the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA) have tried to emphasise the plight of "middle class" actors. The unions are trying to ensure a pay rise for this section of their membership in order to enable them to continue working in the industry.

According to industry observers, both parties still have a large gap to bridge between their respective positions. The Writers Guild of America originally asked for a 5% increase in minimums, but eventually settled for 3.5% in order to resolve their own contract negotiations. However, the actors' unions are reportedly asking for a pay raise far above the writers' original demands, thus slowing down the negotiations.

Both the SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) feel that there is little real threat of a strike. Therefore, the actors' unions may be forced to back down and take whatever deal is offered to them if negotiations are still continuing on June 30.

Even if the talks do collapse and a strike is held, the stop-work action wouldn't happen overnight. Firstly, the boards of both the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists would need to recommend a strike authorization to all 135,000 members. Following this, the unions would need a week to put together the strike proposal, and then another three weeks for all members' votes to be counted.

However, there are some productions that will continue even in the event of a strike. The Screen Actors Guild has given permission for actors on a dozen independent film productions to continue working. A SAG source told that these are all non-studio productions and that a majority of them are being shot outside the United States. None of the Star Trek productions, however, would be included in this.

Production on Enterprise has now been underway for over a month, so even if a strike is called, at least filming on the pilot episode will have been completed. However, there would be delays on production of regular episodes, as well as on Trek X, rumoured to be shooting later this year.

More information can be found in this report.

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