SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood’s major studios will return to the bargaining table on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after the management side called a halt to talks, saying the sides were too far apart. The union’s negotiating committee confirmed in a message to members that the outreach to resume talks came from the management side.
“It is clear that the strength and solidarity shown by our members has sent an unmistakable message to the CEOs. As we have repeatedly said, we are ready, willing and able to engage on a moment’s notice to meet and to work across the table to achieve a deal that is worthy of your sacrifice,” the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee wrote.
Word of the resumption of negotiations came Saturday afternoon in a short joint statement from SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The statement noted that at least some executive leaders from AMPTP member companies would be on hand as well. It comes as SAG-AFTRA’s first industry-wide strike in more than 40 years hit the 100-day mark.
“SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP will meet for bargaining on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at SAG-AFTRA Plaza. Several executives from AMPTP member companies will be in attendance.”
The return to bargaining comes as internal pressure is mounting on SAG-AFTRA leadership to find the path to resolution of the contract talks and the union’s first industry-wide strike since 1980. George Clooney, an A-lister with a bumpy history with Hollywood unions, emerged this week with an alternative proposal for securing higher streaming residuals. That ruffled feathers among SAG-AFTRA’s top brass as it became a clear sign of restlessness in the ranks.
The AMPTP surprised SAG-AFTRA late on Oct. 11 when it abruptly announced a “pause” in the talks because the sides were simply too far apart on key issues. Studio leaders were more than a little irritated that four of the senior-most executives in Hollywood spent five full days in bargaining sessions with the performers union without being able to bridge the key gaps. Union leaders Fran Drescher and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland revved up picket activity and did a media tour to warn the studios that deal terms on the table as of Oct. 11 were not enough to end the strike.
The resumption of talks also comes against a ticking clock on the window of opportunity to shoot any new TV episodes or movies before the year ends. Before the SAG-AFTRA talks with AMPTP took a sharp turn for the worse, industry insiders had been eyeing the week of Nov. 6 as a possible date to get some filming done, especially on TV projects that were almost ready to roll when the WGA initiated the summer of strikes on May 2.
The four leaders who have been in the contract conclave with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA have been Disney’s Bob Iger, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav. It’s not immediately clear if that foursome will regroup for the new round with SAG-AFTRA or if new faces will be at the table.
Here is the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee’s full memo:
As we mark the 100th day of our strike, we are pleased to confirm the company executives have asked us to return to the table. Official negotiations will resume on Tuesday, October 24.
It is clear that the strength and solidarity shown by our members has sent an unmistakable message to the CEOs. As we have repeatedly said, we are ready, willing and able to engage on a moment’s notice to meet and to work across the table to achieve a deal that is worthy of your sacrifice. Including this morning, just as our biannual SAG-AFTRA Convention is underway.
In the coming days there will likely be a lot of interest and potentially noise surrounding our talks. Do not believe anything you hear until it comes from us.
We are focused.
We are determined.
We will not waver.
One day longer.
One day stronger.
As long as it takes.
Your TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee