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SAG gives thumbs-down to 'last, best, and final offer' from studios

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It’s not over, everybody. Hours before Hollywood was preparing to reward a lucky few of its members with an Academy Award, the Screen Actors Guild on Saturday announced that it voted 73% to 27% to reject the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers’ latest and “last” offer dated Feb. 19. The board took issue with the conglomerates’ “last-minute, surprise demand” to extend the proposed deal to March 2012 — meaning the new SAG contract, if approved, would expire several months after those achieved by the other Hollywood unions.

“The last-minute…demand for a new term of agreement extending to 2012 is regressive and damaging and clearly signals the employers’ unwillingness to agree to the deal they established with other entertainment unions,” according to a SAG statement. “The demand for a new term of agreement was not part of their final offer of June 20, 2008.”

That was before talks between the two sides dragged on…and on. According to an AMPTP source, SAG wants its new deal to expire around spring of 2011 — roughly the time when the three-year agreements are set to end for the WGA, DGA, and AFTRA (the other actor’s union). Since it’s taken many months to achieve a pact with SAG, however, the congloms don’t appear eager to reward the actors with a shorter deal that expires at the same time as everybody else — thus the extension. But the AMPTP offered a compromise: should SAG and AFTRA kiss, make up, and bargain together in 2011, the new contract will go into effect for both unions and the remaining months on SAG’s previous deal would disappear. But SAG wasn’t buying it.

“The AMPTP intends to de-leverage our bargaining position from this point forward,” the SAG statement said. “The AMPTP has clearly stated their need and desire for financial certainty and industry peace. This new proposal does the exact opposite, and will only result in constant negotiating cycles and continued labor unrest.”

The AMPTP responded with this statement: “The Producers’ offer is strong and fair — and has been judged to be strong and fair by all of Hollywood’s other major guilds and unions. We have kept our offer on the table — and even enhanced it — despite the historically unprecedented economic crisis that has clobbered our nation and our industry.

“The producers have always sought a full three-year deal with SAG, just as we negotiated with all the other unions and guilds, and have offered SAG a way to achieve an earlier expiration date without contributing to further labor uncertainty. We simply cannot offer SAG a better deal than the rest of the industy achieved under far better economic conditions than those now confronting our industry.”