In the wake of the Writers Guild of America finally winning and ratifying a new labor contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) after 146 days of striking, there was some hope that the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists — which has also been on strike — might be able to do the same. But despite SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP meeting earlier this week to resume contract negotiations, the talks have already hit a big stumbling point.
(Disclosure: The Verge’s editorial staff is also unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.)
On Wednesday evening, the AMPTP released a statement announcing that, after meeting with SAG-AFTRA for five days, it was walking away from the negotiation table having determined that “the gap between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA is too great, and conversations are no longer moving us in a productive direction.”
Though the AMPTP characterized its discussions with SAG-AFTRA as “meaningful,” it pointed to the demands of the actors guild for better compensation based on viewership figures as one of the big reasons the two sides couldn’t reach a new agreement. The AMPTP also said that while it offered SAG-AFTRA a potential deal defined by “the same terms that were ratified by the DGA and WGA,” the actors guild refused.
“SAG-AFTRA’s current offer included what it characterized as a viewership bonus that, by itself, would cost more than $800 million per year – which would create an untenable economic burden,” the AMPTP said. “SAG-AFTRA presented few, if any, moves on the numerous remaining open items.”
According to the AMPTP, it was willing to meet SAG-AFTRA on “nearly all” of its demands regarding self-tapes and auditions, “the highest percentage increase in minimums in 35 years” for basic compensation, and bumps in foreign residual pay for shows airing specifically on “the four largest streaming services.”
SAG-AFTRA says the AMPTP is engaging in bullying tactics, which it has done before
Interestingly (and not at all coincidentally), just hours before the AMPTP released its messaging about the negotiations and its offers to SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America — which raised eyebrows back in late June when it swiftly ratified its own new contract without striking — sent an email to its membership earlier on Wednesday expressing confidence in its choices.
“We are extremely proud of the contract we negotiated and you overwhelmingly ratified earlier this year,” the DGA said. “That’s why we’ve been discouraged to see a number of recent news articles and social media posts misrepresenting the extraordinary gains we made.”
In a lengthy statement posted to its page on X, SAG-AFTRA accused the AMPTP of attempting to use bullying tactics (which it has done before during negotiations with the WGA) and grossly mischaracterizing the union’s proposals in an attempt to make it look unreasonable to the public.
As the LA Times reports, SAG-AFTRA has been pushing for a 2 percent slice of streaming revenue pretty much from the jump as one of its big asks, along with robust artificial intelligence protections for actors that are designed to ensure they’re either compensated properly for the use of their likenesses or given a way to safely opt out of having them captured at all. Even though SAG-AFTRA has made it pretty clear that it has no intentions of budging on those points, it seems as if the AMPTP might be hoping for the union’s resolve to waver now that its sister organization is no longer picketing for itself.
That sort of logic doesn’t come as a surprise, as the AMPTP has repeatedly shown itself to be committed to keeping Hollywood’s money and power concentrated in the hands of studios. That said, even though the WGA might not be on its own strike anymore, the organization has made clear that it still stands in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA, and studios represented by the AMPTP should expect picket demonstrations (not TV shows or films) to continue until a deal is worked out.