In the wake of the WGA’s incredible success on strike and in the negotiation of its own contract with the AMPTP, when it was announced that studio representatives would return to the bargaining table with the still-striking actors’ union SAG-AFTRA last week, there was hope that a similar labour win could be on the cards. But it seems like the AMPTP has still not yet learned from its previous, repeated mistakes.
Last night several Hollywood trades reported on details released to the press about the negotiations through AMPTP sources, framing a breakdown of negotiations as revolving around SAG-AFTRA negotiators rejecting offers over major sticking points in the new contract revolving around protections from the use of AI and digital scans of extras as well as revenue sharing. The latter was allegedly the main sticking point for the AMPTP, who described an offer of just 2% revenue sharing between union members and the studios as an “untenable economic burden” according to Deadline.
“After meaningful conversations, it is clear that the gap between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA is too great, and conversations are no longer moving us in a productive direction,” a statement provided to the trades by the AMPTP read in part. “We hope that SAG-AFTRA will reconsider and return to productive negotiations soon.”
This tactic—the public release of details around negotiation proposals laundered through entertainment media trades, largely designed as an attempt create divides between rank-and-file members of the union and its bargaining committee—is something that the AMPTP already attempted this summer during negotiations with the Writers Guild of America, and already failed in using it as an effective tool against one striking union. As to why its negotiators thought that the second time would be the charm remains unclear, but in its own lengthy statement regarding the negotiation breakdown, SAG-AFTRA was quick to highlight the underhanded tactic as well as the AMPTP’s recalcitrance in negotiating in good-faith.
“We have negotiated with them in good faith, despite the fact that last week they presented an offer that was, shockingly, worth less than they proposed before the strike began,” SAG-AFTRA’s statement reads in part. “These companies refuse to protect performers from being replaced by AI, they refuse to increase your wages to keep up with inflation, and they refuse to share a tiny portion of the immense revenue YOUR work generates for them.”
“We have made big, meaningful counters on our end, including completely transforming our revenue share proposal, which would cost the companies less than 57¢ per subscriber each year. They have rejected our proposals and refused to counter. Instead they use bully tactics,” the statement continues. “Just tonight, they intentionally misrepresented to the press the cost of the above proposal–overstating it by 60%. They have done the same with A.I., claiming to protect performer consent, but continuing to demand “consent” on the first day of employment for use of a performer’s digital replica for an entire cinematic universe (or any franchise project).”
“The companies are using the same failed strategy they tried to inflict on the WGA–putting out misleading information in an attempt to fool our members into abandoning our solidarity and putting pressure on our negotiators. But, just like the writers, our members are smarter than that and will not be fooled.”
With the ratification of the WGA’s new contract with the AMPTP last week, there were hopes that an end to the SAG-AFTRA strike—and to Hollywood’s unprecedented reckoning with the power of labour actions this summer—would be on the horizon. But it’s now clear that, 91 days since SAG first went on strike, the AMPTP is still more willing to rely on failed tactics than it is a desire to negotiate in good faith.
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