SAG-AFTRA accuses ‘bully tactics’ as studios suspend negotiations

Talks between SAG-AFTRA and major studios have collapsed, with the Alliance of Film and Television Producers saying Wednesday that the rift between the sides is “too great.”

In a statement to members after midnight, the union accused the studios of using “bullying tactics” and said the studios had walked away from the bargaining table after refusing to counter the union’s latest offer.

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The union expressed its “deep disappointment” at the recent development and called on its members to come to the picket line to express their solidarity.

The biggest stumbling block is a union proposal to share streaming revenue, which the AMPTP says would cost $800 million a year. SAG-AFTRA said that figure was exaggerated by 60% and that its proposal would cost streaming platforms 57 cents per subscriber per year.

“We negotiated with them in good faith, even though they submitted an offer last week that was, shockingly, worth less than what they had proposed before the strike began,” SAG-AFTRA told members. “These companies refuse to protect artists from being replaced by AI, they refuse to raise their wages to keep up with inflation, and they refuse to share a tiny portion of the immense revenue that THEIR generates work for them.”

SAG-AFTRA wants a share of streaming revenue for all union-covered programming — both streaming programs and films and TV shows licensed from other platforms — which would go well beyond the Writers Guild of America’s performance-based bonus .

“SAG-AFTRA’s current offer included an audience bonus that alone would cost more than $800 million per year — creating an unsustainable economic burden,” the studio group said in a statement. “SAG-AFTRA has provided few, if any, actions on the numerous remaining outstanding items.”

However, in its email, the union said it had presented a “big, meaningful” counterproposal and completely reshaped the revenue sharing proposal. SAG-AFTRA accused the studios of releasing misleading information to weaken members’ resolve.

“The companies are using the same failed strategy they tried to impose on the WGA: spreading misleading information to get our members to abandon our solidarity and put pressure on our negotiators,” the union said. “But just like the authors, our members are smarter and won’t be fooled.”

SAG-AFTRA is also seeking an 11% increase in minimum rates to keep pace with inflation. The AMPTP is offering the same offer as the WGA and the Directors Guild of America – 5%, followed by increases of 4% and 3.5%.

The studios unveiled their latest offering on Wednesday. In the statement, the AMPTP said: “After meaningful discussions, it is clear that the gap between AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA is too great and the discussions are no longer moving us in a productive direction.”

“We hope that SAG-AFTRA will reconsider and return to productive negotiations soon,” the AMPTP said.

The AMPTP also outlined the details of its latest offer, including increases in rates for guest stars, higher caps on pension and health insurance contributions, and acceptance of most of the union’s demands for self-recorded auditions.

The AMPTP also said it had agreed to require consent from both key and background actors for the use of artificial intelligence. The union has also sought to require union approval of any use of AI and a ban on AI training.

SAG-AFTRA argued that the AMPTP statement regarding AI was misleading, saying that studios still require “consent” for the use of a cast member’s digital replica for an entire film universe (or any one) on day one of its employment Franchise project). ”

When talks with that guild failed in mid-August, the studio group also released point-by-point details of its proposal to the WGA. This move was widely seen as an attempt to bypass leadership and speak directly to WGA members in the hope that they would pressure leadership to come to an agreement. It took a month for both sides to return to negotiations.

The actors’ strike has now entered its 90th day, approaching the length of the 1980 SAG strike, which lasted 95 days.

A group of CEOs — Bob Iger of Disney, David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery, Donna Langley of NBCUniversal and Ted Sarandos of Netflix — met with the actors union for the first time last week. The group met with SAG-AFTRA negotiators at the union’s headquarters in Mid-Wilshire.

Langley appeared at the Bloomberg Screentime conference on Wednesday evening, where she gave a brief overview of the SAG-AFTRA talks. She gave no indication of the imminent collapse of the talks.

“We have spent time with the actors and we want to spend as much time as necessary until we can find a solution and get the industry back on its feet and back to work,” she said.

Meanwhile, the DGA sent a message to its members on Wednesday defending its own agreement reached in June. The DGA faced renewed criticism for not taking a harder line in its negotiations, particularly from writers and directors who felt the guild should have joined the WGA on the picket line.

The DGA told members it was “extremely proud” of its agreement, which includes an increase in foreign arrears, a second cut for TV directors and an additional day of filming for directors of one-hour shows on streaming and pay TV.

The WGA voted 99% Monday to ratify its new agreement, officially ending one of the longest labor disputes in that guild’s history. The union received a bonus for the writers of top-performing streaming shows, as well as a minimum television cast and a guaranteed rewrite for feature writers.

Chris Keyser, co-chair of the WGA bargaining committee, released a video Wednesday urging members to contribute to strike relief.

“The long fallout from these two attacks will cause suffering for months to come,” Keyser said. “Let’s bind up the wounds of this summer and get people back on their feet and get this business back to work.”

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