Showbizreporting's Blog

June 2, 2009



Reaction to New Last, Best & Final Offer

February 20, 2009 by Editor.


The late move by the AMPTP appears to have taken many by surprise. There’s no statement yet from SAG.

You had to dig for the Los Angeles Times story, but eventually it showed up.

Richard Verrier writes the new Negotiating Task Force’s efforts to reach a deal, “appear to have been thwarted by a tougher-than-expected bargaining posture by studios, which are increasingly impatient as their own businesses are squeezed by a deep recession, said people close to the talks.”

The Wrap: “The (AMPTP) statement suggested that talks have not gone as well as might have been hoped, and dangled the prospect that the studios might begin taking some things on offer off the table if the guild did not take their offer quickly.”

Stephen Diamond’s latest was written before the announcement, but clearly anticipated continued difficulty. He notes that a strike authorization vote is still on the table – and presumably could be voted upon tomorrow.

The Hollywood Reporter: a brief post that misses the point that although the three year term of the contract would commence as of signing (thus eliminating retroactivity), there’s an escape clause if SAG and AFTRA return to joint negotiation on TV-Theatrical.

Jonathan Handel (Digital Media Law) offers an interesting post called “Is SAG Becoming Irrelevant.”

 On substance of the offer he analyzes: “The new Last, Best and Final Offer deletes or modifies several rollbacks contained in the previous AMPTP offer, which had been on the table since June 30, 2008—approximately eight months ago—when the 2005-2008 union agreement expired. Other than the removal or modification of rollbacks (which I had anticipated, see secs. 3(d), (e) & (F) of this post), the new offer contained no significant improvements over the previous offer (SAGWatch has a nice summary). Both the previous and new offer contain improvements over the 2005-2008 agreement, such as approximately 3.5% increases per year in union TV and theatrical minimums.”

Handel also casts his post in terms of SAG vs. AFTRA, pointing to a Hollywood Reporter story noting that this pilot season has seen producers of most pilots signing AFTRA contracts.

Editor’s thoughts: the AMPTP’s hardliners appear to be in control, and either their frustration level is apparently at a high level or it’s a coldly calculated move to exploit the divisions within the union. It’s important to remember that the AMPTP has factions just like we do – check out this on Bloomberg, which appeared at about the same time as the new AMPTP offer.

 And it’s also important to read the words the AMPTP used carefully. Although they characterized their latest (again) as a “last, best and final” offer, instead of threatening to impose the offer after 60 days, the AMPTP statement says it may be withdrawn or changed after 60 days. That gives some credence to those who pointed out that there were several “last, best and final” offers during the WGA negotiations and strike.

Tomorrow’s National Board meeting should yield some fireworks. However, though it seems against the odds, all this could help unify SAG, at least in the short term.


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