SAG-AFTRA has agreed to engage a federal mediation agency in its ongoing negotiations with studios and streamers — but refuses to extend those negotiations beyond July 12.
In a strongly worded statement Tuesday evening, the union said, “We will not be distracted from negotiating in good faith to secure a fair and just contract by the expiration of our contract.” It added, “We are committed to the negotiation process and will continue to explore every possible opportunity to reach an agreement, although we do not believe employers have any intention of negotiating towards an agreement.”
The announcement comes hours after news broke that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has requested services from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a federal agency that helps resolve labor disputes. The request came after several top executives, including Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros.-Discovery chairman David Zaslau, Disney Entertainment co-chairs Dana Walton and Alan Bergman, floated the idea of federal intervention in calls on Monday. The Hollywood Reporter Confident. The decision appeared to be a last-minute attempt to salvage and/or extend negotiations.
But in its statement Monday, SAG-AFTRA threw cold water on what it described as a purposeful leak. to do Variety Earlier in the day, “the CEOs and their ‘anonymous sources’ said it was before our negotiators were told about the demand for leadership.” The union added, “AMPTP has abused our trust and in the process damaged the respect we have for them. When companies have enough time to negotiate a fair deal, we won’t be manipulated by this cynical ploy.
The union has a strike authorization vote in hand to call for a strike beginning Thursday as the clock ticks down on the current expiration date of the TV/Theatrical contracts on Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. The union reiterated this fact in its statement Tuesday: “Time is running out,” SAG-AFTRA said.
The two parties have been rolling out a new three-year contract covering about 160,000 union members since June 7, and both agreed to an extension on June 30 to move talks along. At the start of talks, union president Fran Tresher and national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland spoke in upbeat tones about the discussions, calling them “very productive”. The agreed extension was “to resolve every possibility of reaching the just deal we all demand and deserve”.
Tuesday’s statement marks a definite shift in tone from the union regarding the state of its relationship with studios and streamers. The announcement comes in line with significant preparations the union has made in recent days towards a possible strike. On Monday, top SAG-AFTRA leaders met with major PR firms and hundreds of agents to discuss how a potential strike would play out and what the rules would be for members. One agent in Monday’s delegation echoed the tone of SAG-AFTRA leaders, calling for a possible strike: “They’re not talking in conditional sentences.”