UPDATE 5:50 PM PT — The following is an updated version of a story published at 5 PM Tuesday on reports that the AMPTP has filed a request for federal mediation in its talks with SAG-AFTRA. The story has been updated to include a statement from SAG-AFTRA responding to the request.
The SAG-AFTRA actors’ union has agreed to federal mediation with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in the hours before Wednesday’s deadline on contract negotiations.
While the actors guild says it is open to having a neutral mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service join talks on Wednesday, it will not move the expiration date of its previous contract a second time after previously agreeing with the AMPTP to move it from June 30 to July 12.
“The SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical/Streaming Negotiating Committee has agreed to the AMPTP’s last-minute request for federal mediation and has reaffirmed the negotiating committee’s dedication to securing a fair deal by the expiration of the extended contract at 11:59 p.m. PT on Wednesday, July 12,” SAG-AFTRA said in a statement.
SAG-AFTRA also criticized the AMPTP in its statement, disputing reports that the AMPTP made the request for mediation after an emergency meeting on Monday between several top Hollywood executives, including Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Disney CEO Bob Iger.
The actors guild says that the reports, which were first published by Variety, were published “before our negotiators were even told of the request for mediation.”
“We will not be distracted from negotiating in good faith to secure a fair and just deal by the expiration of our agreement. We are committed to the negotiating process and will explore and exhaust every possible opportunity to make a deal, however we are not confident that the employers have any intention of bargaining toward an agreement,” SAG-AFTRA said.
“The AMPTP has abused our trust and damaged the respect we have for them in this process. We will not be manipulated by this cynical ploy to engineer an extension when the companies have had more than enough time to make a fair deal,” the statement continued. “We are here to get a deal that ensures our members can earn a living wage in our expansive industry we help make possible with our work. The AMPTP can make this happen at any time. They know what our members need and when they bring that to the table, we will be listening, but it’s important to know – time is running out.”
TheWrap has reached out to AMPTP for comment.
After the current contract expires at 11:59 p.m. PT this Wednesday, SAG-AFTRA would be able to call a strike that would see all actors withdraw their presence and talent from any film and television productions as well as any promotional events like press junkets and awards ceremonies, including this September’s Primetime Emmy Awards.
Individuals with knowledge of the talks have told TheWrap that despite the contract extension, SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP remain far apart on key issues, including a framework for consent and compensation for use of performers’ likeness and past work in AI recreations and data set gathering, as well as a new structure for streaming residuals, which SAG-AFTRA wants based around viewership data.
Over the past few days, SAG-AFTRA has prepared for a strike with picket sign construction over the weekend and surveys to members for volunteer strike captains, lot coordinators, phone bankers and other positions. Staffers and volunteering members have also traveled to WGA picket lines to share information about logistics and training with Writers Guild strike captains.