Monday, March 19, 2007

SAG-WGA Contract Planning Begins

This morning's trade papers report on the strategizing which has commenced between SAG and the WGA. (Contract talks for writers start this summer)...

East and West Coast executives of SAG and the WGA huddled at SAG headquarters in Los Angeles on Friday to begin mapping out strategy for the next round of film and TV contract talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

The WGA is expected to begin talks with AMPTP in July on a new contract for movie and primetime scribes, with the old film and TV pact expiring Oct. 31. Similar producer contracts with the DGA and SAG/AFTRA expire in June 2008.

No representatives of the DGA or AFTRA attended the Friday meeting, sources said, but it wasn't clear whether invitations had been extended to those unions. The DGA tends to be a bit independent, but AFTRA for decades has negotiated jointly with SAG on the all-important film and TV agreement.

If history is prologue (and any kind of predictor), here's the way it could go:

WGA begins talks with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers), but reaches no agreement by October 31 (contract deadline.) Trade media and conglomerates wring their hands. No writers' strike-vote is taken until SAG negotiations kick in.

But in the meantime, the AMPTP turns its attention to the DGA (Directors Guild of America), which negotiates to agreement. Much hand-shaking by participants, hossanahs from trade press. SAG and the WGA release (or leak) statements from officers saying this undercuts their bargaining positions, and they're not overly happy.

Two months later, SAG and the WGA reach agreement with the producers (AMPTP) almost concurrently. "Thorny issues" like increased residuals for DVDs are kicked down the road. Compromise is reached on residuals for mobile devices. (Charges of "sellout!" are heard.)

Planning for the 2011-20012 contract-negotiation cycle begins.


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