Sag blasts AMPTP for open letter

MUMBAI: The stand off between the Screen Actors Guild (Sag) and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in the US continues. Last month Sag had called for a strike authorisation vote following failure in mediation talks.

Subsequently the AMPTP put out an ad in the form of an open letter. The letter notes that it worked hard this year to make six major labour agreements. These six agreements were intensely fought and aggressively negotiated by all sides, with major compromises made by everyone involved. The letter says, "Now, with all the other Guilds and Unions having accomplished so much, Sag is demanding that the entire industry literally throw out all of its hard work because it believes it deserves more than the 230,000 other working people in the industry.

"To comply with Sag‘s demands would mean Sag merits more than everyone else. Saying yes would jeopardize the trust we have so carefully established with the rest of the industry -- at a time when this industry needs stability to ensure that together, we effectively evolve with shifting consumer demands. To say yes to Sag would be to repudiate the hard work and compromises made by every other labor organization in the industry over the past ten months."

Responding to this, Sag notes that the open letter, full-page ad from the eight entertainment industry moguls is confirmation of their continued refusal to bargain. The Sag statement reads, "In an effort to push negotiations forward in the face of AMPTP stonewalling, we asked two of the CEO’s who signed this letter to get involved in the talks in September. They refused. We wish they had taken us up on our offer. It better serves the industry to negotiate than to buy and respond to $100,000 newspaper ads.

"We are still waiting for the CEO’s or their AMPTP negotiators to make a good faith effort at bargaining with us. Agreements with other guilds and unions can’t dictate actors’ terms just because they are part of a pattern set by the DGA. Actors issues are different and must be heard and addressed."

Sag says that it wants exactly what the DGA got – the chance to negotiate an agreement that addresses the needs of its members. "No other guild or union can negotiate a pattern deal that fits the industry and Sag members, any more than ABC can negotiate license fees for NBC. No one has our proxy."

AMPTP adds that Sag is now officially out of touch with reality. "The Producers negotiated with Sag for 46 days - and over that entire time Sag failed to justify why it deserves a better deal than the six other agreements negotiated so far this year.

"On a day when the United States was officially declared to be in a recession, when Governor Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency for California, and when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 680 points, Sag continues to demand more and better than everyone else. Unfortunately, the chasm between reality and Sag seems to widen by the day."

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