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SAG agrees to mediation as AMPTP makes last-ditch attempt to avoid actors’ strike

US actors’ union SAG-AFTRA has agreed to federal mediation as the deadline approaches to hammer out a new deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland

On Tuesday evening SAG-AFTRA said it would accommodate the AMPTP’s “last-minute request” for mediation – whereby an agency provides conflict-resolution services in labour negotiations – and “reaffirmed” its dedication to securing a “fair deal” by 23.59 PT today.

The initial deal had been set to expire on June 30 but was extended to allow more time for negotiations. SAG-AFTRA has indicated that it is not open to another extension.

However, while the union agreed to mediation it did not mince its words, saying it was unsure the AMPTP, which represents the major US studios, has “any intention” of negotiating a new deal ahead of the deadline.

“We are committed to the negotiating process and will explore and exhaust every possible opportunity to make a deal, however we are not confident that the employers have any intention of bargaining toward an agreement,” said SAG, which represents around 160,000 members.

SAG-AFTRA also accused the AMPTP of leaking information to trade publications in order to sway perceptions of the talks. “The AMPTP has abused our trust and damaged the respect we have for them in this process,” said the union.

Like the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has been on strike since May 2, SAG-AFTRA is also pushing for stronger protections around the use of AI and an adjustment of the residuals structure for streaming services.

If SAG-AFTRA strikes, it will be the first time two major Hollywood unions have been on strike in more than 60 years. The Directors Guild of America’s membership have ratified a new deal with the AMPTP.

While most US shows have now been shut down as a result of the WGA strike, an actors’ walkout would shutter entirely anything that has remained in production.

Fran Drescher

“We are here to get a deal that ensures our members can earn a living wage in our expansive industry we help make possible with our work,” added SAG-AFTRA.

“The AMPTP can make this happen at any time. They know what our members need and when they bring that to the table we will be listening, but it’s important to know – time is running out.”

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland is SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator and national executive director, while Fran Drescher is the union’s president.

At SeriesFest in Denver in May, Crabtree-Ireland blasted executive pay and said that those criticising the salaries commanded by actors were playing into the hands of the AMPTP.

“There are various creatives involved with TV projects who require a certain amount of compensation and have the leverage to get it, and that can have an impact,” he said. “But whenever we make that point, we have to make the point that there is an immense drain on the system that comes out of studio and streamer executives.”


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