SAG-AFTRA Agrees to Federal Mediation, But Not to an Extension

SAG-AFTRA Agrees to Federal Mediation, But Not to an Extension

As strike talk in Hollywood heats up, entertainment industry publications like Variety and Deadline are running multiple stories about the WGA, SAG-AFTRA, DGA, and the AMPTP every day. And, as a result of aggregating such articles, so are many other sites, including io9. But many of the trades’ sources have their own agendas when it comes to the results of negotiations and the possibility of multiple industry strikes occurring at once. That can lead to conflicting reports.

Yesterday, July 11, Variety published an article around 1:45 PST stating that AMPTP bigwigs were seeking federal mediation and were also hoping to extend the negotiation deadline—and the amount of time when actors would be expected to work. SAG-AFTRA issued a statement after this piece was published which re-iterated that it would agree to mediation, but said that it would not extend the deadline—and that the Variety piece was incorrect.

“We condemn the tactic outlined in today’s inaccurate Variety piece naming the CEOs of several entertainment conglomerates as the force behind the request for mediation; information that was leaked to the press by the CEOs and their ‘anonymous sources’ before our negotiators were even told of the request for mediation,” reads the press release posted on SAG-AFTRA’s site. “The AMPTP has abused our trust and damaged the respect we have for them in this process. We will not be manipulated by this cynical ploy to engineer an extension when the companies have had more than enough time to make a fair deal.”

SAG-AFTRA began negotiations with AMPTP on June 7. At that time it had a 98% yes vote on the strike authorization, a strong base of support for the union to get the best deal possible. Contracts were originally meant to expire on June 30, and were then extended until July 12. The current contract ends midnight tonight, Pacific time.

Late last night Deadline published another piece—this time alleging that the CEOs are in for a “long strike” with the WGA. The piece asserted a few things via anonymous sources; the first that the AMPTP doesn’t expect to resume negotiations with the WGA until “late October.” The piece also quotes an anonymous studio executive as saying “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”

This article was later updated with a statement from an AMPTP spokesperson, which reads, “These anonymous people are not speaking on behalf of the AMPTP or member companies, who are committed to reaching a deal and getting our industry back to work.”

But while this projects an outward sense of stability among the AMPTP, many WGA writers are calling this kind of reporting misleading. Screenwriter and WGA member David Slack iterates that this kind of “studio propaganda” is meant to create the image that the AMPTP has a stronger base of support than it actually does.

The WGA also weighed in.

It’s unclear whether or not the sentiments expressed in the Deadline article are held universally across CEOs and industry executives in the AMPTP, but the WGA does not appear to be cowed by the threat of a “late October” date. Instead, it has issued a joint statement in support of SAG-AFTRA alongside the Teamsters, IATSE, DGA, and Hollywood Basic Crafts union. They are looking to the fight ahead, and they are not going to back down. No matter what gets leaked to the trades.