SAG-AFTRA, Directors Guild Lay Groundwork For Contract Battles

SAG-AFTRA board OKs Feb. 14 start for commercials bargaining; Michael Apted, Tommy Schlamme will co-char DGA negotiating panel for TV, movie talks

Last Updated: February 3, 2013 @ 1:53 PM

The Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA, and the Directors Guild of America both took steps over the weekend to prepare for upcoming negotiations. 

The DGA on Sunday named Michael Apted and Thomas Schlamme  co-chairs of its feature film and television negotiations committee. Meanwhile, the national board of SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists late Saturday gave its go-ahead to beginning talks with the ad industry on a new commercials contract in New York on Feb. 14.

SAG-AFTRA's current commercials contract with the Association of National Advertisers expires on March 31. The union's board gave final approval to the wage and working conditions proposals its committees have been working on for months, but offered no details. The ad contract, which covers $1 billion in annual earnings, will be the first major negotiations for SAG-AFTRA since members voted to merge last March.

Also read: Contract Time Is Coming: Now, What About That Combined SAG-AFTRA Clout?

DGA president Taylor Hackford made the announcement on Apted and Schlamme following the approval of the appointments by the guild's national board.

“We are extremely fortunate to have the benefit of their wisdom, negotiating prowess and many years of professional and Guild experience to spearhead our negotiation,” Hackford said in a statement.

The DGA’s current three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expires on June 30, 2014. That may be down the road, but clearly the DGA leadership has the talks on its mind. In his speech at the DGA Awards last night, Hackford told the audience, "I assure you, we're already preparing for our next negotiation."

Also read: Directors Guild Agrees: Ben Affleck Is the Man and 'Argo' Is the Movie

Apted, who served as guild president for three terms from 2003-2009 and in that position oversaw negotiations in 2004 and 2008, currently serves as DGA secretary-treasurer.

“While we don’t know yet when negotiations will begin, we are preparing well in advance, as we always do, with extensive up-to-the-minute research and a robust and thorough staff and member process to determine our key priorities, so that we will be ready when the time is right,” said Apted.

Schlamme has served as Guild fifth vice president since 2009. 

“We will be working closely with Creative Rights Committee Co-Chairs Steven Soderbergh and Jonathan Mostow, “ Schlamme said, “who have already begun work with their committees.”