Discover more from Strikegeist
Searching for Consensus, as SAG Weighs a Provocative Option
From done deal to cautious optimism to uncertainty around a SAG-AFTRA/AMPTP deal as a consumer boycott becomes one of the levers being floated
UPDATE: SAG-AFTRA sent a message to membership near midnight Sunday that “The TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee analyzed and thoroughly discussed the AMPTP’s counter proposal all day and well into the night and will continue our deliberations on Monday.”
The week may have begun with high hopes for a new three-year contract — it was absolutely going to happen, said some of the industry’s armchair quarterbacks — but it is instead closing out with 160,000-plus SAG-AFTRA performers still out on strike. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers presented the actors union with a “last, best and final offer” on Saturday, verbiage that indicates it is not interested in more back-and-forth. SAG-AFTRA has spent Sunday poring over the latest counter, the details of which aren’t public.
“It’s a phenomenal deal, and they should genuinely feel great,” said one studio-side source close to the talks.
But the performers do not quite feel the same way, and those allied with the union see the LFBO language not as the final word but as a negotiating tactic intended to apply pressure to SAG-AFTRA. In fact, there are whispers that there is dissent within the 17-person voting bloc (a core part of the 40-plus person negotiating committee) about whether to remain on strike. The only thing that two sources close to the talks would tell me however, without confirming the rumors, is that the union tends to aim for a greater consensus and is likelier to take time to seek out a majority than make a decision on a split vote.
The very real issue, of course, is that if talks break down again this week, the industry is expected to shut down through the rest of the year. It’s early November: the 2023-2024 broadcast season is close to being unsalvageable, more 2024 theatrical release dates are already being pushed back, and the hope of restarting production in January is beginning to fade, even with the town’s writers back at work.
“They felt sufficiently empowered to draw that line in the sand,” says one source close to the negotiations of the studios’ LBFO.
Over the months, the union has also bandied about other levers that it has not yet pulled — specifically, a consumer boycott that would call on viewers to start canceling subscriptions to streaming services in an attempt to pressure the AMPTP to cut a deal, the same person says. How seriously it is being discussed today, however, is unclear.
So we head into the new week with the actors strike going into Day 116 on Monday, and still no resolution. No announcements as of Sunday at 6 p.m. PT about the next meeting, but odds are good they’ll want to head back to the table Monday. SAG-AFTRA did not respond to request for comment.
Hear something? Talk to me: email@example.com.