Hollywood studios, SAG meet to over contract offer

Wed Jul 2, 2008 7:49pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood studios and the Screen Actors Guild met on Wednesday for their first face-to-face encounter since the studios broke off long-stalled labor talks by presenting the union with a "final" contract offer.

Little of substance was expected to emerge from the meeting, which the studios said was intended strictly as a question-and-answer session about the 43-page proposal issued on Monday.

Contrary to the studios' assertions, SAG leaders have suggested the door remained open for further negotiations.

But it was not clear whether SAG planned to bring a counterproposal to the meeting, and if the union did so, whether the studios would even consider it.

The studio offer contains essentially the same terms as a labor deal recently brokered by SAG's smaller sister union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which SAG leaders have vehemently opposed as a weak compromise.

SAG has mounted an all-out campaign seeking to persuade its 40,000 members who belong to both unions to reject AFTRA's tentative TV contract in a ratification vote that comes to a close next Tuesday.

SAG leaders argue that defeating the AFTRA deal could give them the leverage needed to clinch a more favorable settlement for all actors under the larger SAG contract covering the work of 120,000 members in both prime-time television and movies.

That deal expired at midnight Monday, hours after the studios broke off negotiations with SAG and presented the union their "final offer" -- a version of the AFTRA deal modified to address issues unique to the film industry.   Continued...

<p>President of the Screen Actors Guild Alan Rosenberg speaks at the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles January 27, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>