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Did SAG Double Dare Producers?

Strikewatch_blog Finally, some news about those AMPTP-SAG negotiations! Unfortunately, the news is not pretty.

The producers organization has posted an update on its site stating that after 13 days of talks, both parties “are not yet close to an agreement.” Not surprisingly, the AMPTP blames the impasse on SAG’s refusal to take the same new-media deal accepted by the DGA, WGA, and in the AFTRA Network Code. Or rather, SAG’s negotiators said the existing new-media deal is fine, but some changes must be made—70 changes to be exact, many of which the producers say would “go a long way toward making the framework itself unworkable.”

The producers also claim SAG’s demands to double the DVD formula and make huge increases in compensation and benefits “would result in enormous cost increases that we are not willing to accept.”

“We cannot responsibly accept the unprecedented, double-digit increases in DVD residuals and conditions being sought by SAG, or wage hikes that in some cases reach 200 percent. As a result, we have made little progress in narrowing the significant differences with SAG on these critical traditional media issues.”

SAG hasn’t released a statement responding to its members’ employers yet—one is certainly on the way.

Of course, Doug Allen has been saying for months that he’s not happy with the existing new-media deal. He and SAG prez Alan Rosenberg have vowed several times that they’ll fight tooth-and-nail in the boardroom yet at the same time want to avoid a strike.

 SAG’s 2008 Contract Reports says Team SAG will—of course—seek increases in residual formulas, pay, health, and pension. But it doesn’t mention doubling the DVD formula or 70 proposed changes to the new-media deal.

 Plenty of pundits, like Ken Ziffren, say SAG should shut up and accept what the other unions got—especially since studios claim they haven’t made much green on the Internet. If you believe that, I’ve got some swampland in Burbank to sell you.

 I gotta give it up to Alan and Allen for hangin’ tough. But let’s remember that WGA supposedly sought to double DVD residuals only to drop the issue. SAG might not play hardball for long if the specter of seeking strike approval rears its ugly head. Methinks the SAG membership won’t be as keen on striking as the writers were.

--Lauren Horwitch



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