With just hours until the contract between Hollywood actors and studios expires, both sides have agreed to seek federal mediation in hopes of preventing a strike that could derail the movie industry.
In a letter to SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) union members, leaders said the negotiating committee had agreed to a “last-minute request for federal mediation” as they continue to look for a fair deal.
“We will not be distracted from negotiating in good faith to achieve a fair and just deal by the expiration of our agreement. We are committed to the negotiation process and will explore and exhaust every possible opportunity to close a deal, but we don’t trust it.” that the employers intend to negotiate an agreement,” the letter said.
A report from Variety revealed on Tuesday that “a group of CEOs and senior executives” took steps to avoid the strike by the nearly 160,000 members of the SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) union. The group included Disney CEO Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav and Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos.
“In addition to executives discussing efforts to bring in a federal mediator, talent agency leaders… have been reaching out to SAG-AFTRA leaders in recent days to offer assistance that could see a second Hollywood work stoppage this summer could occur,” the Variety report said.
Additionally, Variety reported that the various “talent agency leaders” included Ari Emanuel of WME, Bryan Lourd of CAA, and Jeremy Zimmer of UTA.
SAG-AFTRA addressed Variety’s story in their letter, saying they “condemn the tactics outlined in Variety’s inaccurate piece citing the CEOs of various entertainment conglomerates as the force behind the mediation request; information provided by the CEOs leaked to the press and their “anonymous sources” before our negotiators were even aware of the request for mediation. The AMPTP has betrayed our trust and damaged the respect we have for them in this process. We will not be manipulated by this cynical ploy to secure an extension when the companies have had more than enough time to make a fair deal.”
The mediator has only one day to bridge the gap between the actors and the studios, as there was no intention on Tuesday to extend the deadline.
The current hope is that the parties can avoid a situation similar to the ongoing Writers Guild Association strikeas members continue to look for better rewards and benefits from the studios.
The contract between SAG-AFTRA members and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the production companies, expires at midnight on Wednesday. This comes nearly two weeks after the two sides opted outon 30 June so that negotiations could continue.
So far, the contract negotiations have been going on under a mutually agreed media blackout, which has prevented both sides from discussing the status of talks with the media.
SAG-AFTRA negotiators are pushing for a number of demands, including improved benefit plans, protection of members from “income erosion” from inflation and reduced residuals, unregulated use of artificial intelligence and requirements for self-recorded auditions, as outlined in a letter to union members in June.
“SAG-AFTRA represents artists. We are here to make a deal that will ensure our members can earn a living wage in our extensive industry that we enable through our work. The AMPTP can make this possible at any time. They know what our members need and when they bring it to the table we will listen, but it’s important to know – time is running out,” said Tuesday’s letter to union members.
The actors’ union has not gone on strike since 1980.
Should actors eventually go on strike, it would result in what could be a complete stoppage of production if they join the striking writers, who are seeking similar demands in their own negotiations.
AMPTP recently reached a multi-year contract agreement with the Directors Guild of Americathe end of June.