SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood’s top companies are plowing ahead with negotiations.
The performers’ union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers released a joint statement on Monday noting that they had just “met for a full day bargaining session” and would resume talks on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Monday marked the first time that the parties had been back at the negotiations table since the actors’ strike began in mid-July.
Some of the industry’s biggest leaders — Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and NBCUniversal Studio Group chairman and chief content officer Donna Langley — returned to the bargaining table with SAG-AFTRA on Monday, after the same group helped expedite the Writers Guild of America talks in late September. In a change of pace, the CEOs met with the union on the labor group’s home turf, at the SAG-AFTRA national headquarters on Wilshire Blvd., without any federal mediators present. When negotiations initially broke off on July 12, the two sides had been meeting at the AMPTP offices in the Sherman Oaks Galleria and had brought in Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service professionals for one day.
The leaders’ presence in the room raised hopes around the business that the renewed SAG-AFTRA negotiations could move quickly from this point on. Those expectations will likely not be quelled by Monday’s joint statement from both management and labor, which is a positive sign, usually signaling at least some measure of cohesion within the negotiation room.
Still, Monday’s round of negotiations occurred more than 80 days into the actors’ strike, as SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP still have many outstanding issues to resolve. Wage increases, a revenue-sharing proposal on streaming titles and regulations for A.I. remain top priorities for the union that have yet to be fully addressed. The union has also pushed an array of smaller items that it has not yet settled with studios, like increases to health plan and pension contribution “caps,” the size of relocation expenses and whether performance-capture work can be covered under the union’s TV/theatrical contract.
In a separate message to members on Monday, SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee urged performers to “not let up.” The committee continued, “Keep turning out in full force on our picket lines and at solidarity events around the country. Let the AMPTP hear your voices loud and clear. It makes a difference. YOU make a difference.” The union leaders also said that the group would remain out on strike “as long as it takes.”