Screen Actors Guild determined to seek better deal

Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:10am EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A day after losing a bid to scuttle a rival union's new labor contract with Hollywood's studios, Screen Actors Guild leaders insisted on Wednesday they were determined to negotiate a better deal, despite the studios' assertion that bargaining is over.

Negotiators for SAG and the studios planned to meet on Thursday to discuss the "final offer" management presented the union when contract talks broke off in stalemate last week, hours before SAG's old labor agreement expired.

That contract covers work performed by 120,000 SAG members in prime-time TV and movies, an industry still recovering from a 14-week writers strike that ended in February.

SAG's contract talks have foundered on some of the same issues that led to the Writers Guild of America strike, including disagreements over how union talent should be paid for work created especially for the Internet.

The studios' bargaining agent, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, presented its latest offer last Monday as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, saying it was done negotiating.

But SAG's executive director and chief negotiator, Doug Allen, suggested on the eve of his union's formal response that the door to further deal-making remained open.

"I don't know that those categorical statements are always to be taken at face value," he told Reuters. "In fact, somebody from the WGA told me they got a total of 10 final offers from the AMPTP (during their talks). So we'll see."

SAG's deputy executive director, Pamm Fair, sounded a similar note in a statement issued by the union in response to an open letter from the studios to state lawmakers and local politicians accusing the union of foot-dragging.   Continued...

<p>A general view shows the Screen Actors Guild National Headquarters in Los Angeles July 9, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>