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SAG-AFTRA, Producers Extend Contract to Continue Bargaining

Variety logo Variety 7/1/2017 Dave McNary
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SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood’s production companies have agreed to extend the current contract and continue  bargaining — rather than moving towards a strike authorization vote by union members.

The union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced shortly before 11 p.m. PDT Friday that the three-year master contract has been extended on a day-to-day basis.

“The negotiations will continue to operate under a formal news blackout and neither party has further comment,” both sides said in a statement.

SAG-AFTRA had said on June 25 that it would seek a strike authorization if no deal were reached by 12:01 a.m. PDT on Saturday.

But indications emerged Friday afternoon  that negotiators had been able to move closer to agreement on several issues such as travel allowances and compensation for high-budget productions for streaming services.

SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP agreed in 2014 to three consecutive 24-hour extensions after the contract expired before announcing an agreement in the early hours of July 4.

Hollywood has been on high alert about a possible strike this week in the wake of the SAG-AFTRA national board announcing on June 25 that it had passed a unanimous vote that it would seek a strike authorization from its membership unless a deal was reached by the expiration of the contract. The leaders said at that point that the AMPTP had been pushing for “outrageous rollbacks” in the negotiations — but never disclosed what the specifics were.

The contract covers work by SAG-AFTRA members in primetime television and feature films and generates more than $1 billion in annual compensation. The union has about 160,000 members.

SAG-AFTRA began campaigning this week for support of the strike authorization with a #actorsunited hashtag on Twitter, held a meeting on June 28 in Studio City that drew hundreds of members and set four more meetings for members to support the authorization in New York on July 6, the Washington, D.C., area on July 7, Atlanta on July 8, and Chicago on July 9. SAG-AFTRA has not disclosed the schedule for sending out ballots, so it’s unclear when a strike would begin.

SAG-AFTRA has been on strike against 11 video game companies since October over issues covering voice actors with a  significant portion of video game voice work is performed outside of the union’s jurisdiction. SAG-AFTRA has held four rallies in the Los Angeles area since the video game strike began but the companies have not budged and no new talks have been scheduled.

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