New York actors assail union over labor talks

Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:54am EST
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By Leslie Simmons

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The Screen Actors Guild says it will be ready to open contract talks with the studios in the spring.

But that's not good enough for the union's New York board, which wants formal negotiations for a new labor contract with producers to begin in the next four weeks.

Members of SAG's New York board announced Thursday that they have passed a resolution urging the guild leadership to begin bargaining by March 31, well before the June 30 expiration of the union's TV/theatrical contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP).

"I see absolutely no value to the members in delaying these talks any longer," said Sam Freed, the guild's New York president. "We are dealing with serious issues. We should already be at the bargaining table."

With the three-month writers strike settled just two weeks ago, Hollywood is now nervous that actors will walk off the job in the summer. The anxiety has provoked a "de facto" strike, with producers and studios afraid to go ahead with projects if there is a risk they will be interrupted by a strike.

SAG leaders have said formal talks won't begin until the "wages and working conditions" process, in which members create proposals for the negotiations, concludes at the end of March. They have also made it clear they will not be bullied into starting early talks when they are not ready.


The New York board's resolution charges that SAG's leadership "is ignoring the proven success of the strategy of early negotiations" and "wasting valuable time" by fighting with its joint bargaining partner, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).   Continued...