SAG-AFTRA in Talks With Studios Over ‘Applicability’ of Force Majeure Clauses During Pandemic

Union says it’s working with employers to “find arrangements that work to the benefit of our members and prioritize protecting their income during this period”

Last Updated: April 24, 2020 @ 7:01 AM

SAG-AFTRA says it is “working directly” with studios to discuss the “applicability of Force Majeure language” in members’ contracts during production shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Late on Thursday, the union posted a message titled “Member Update Regarding Force Majeure” on its website. The note for members said SAG-AFTRA is in ongoing discussions with employers about these clauses, which cover unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract — like a pandemic.

“Dear Members, We understand that many of you have been affected by the shutdown, postponement or interruption of theatrical, television and new media productions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the message reads. “The issues surrounding production shutdowns related to COVID-19, including the applicability of Force Majeure language from our collective bargaining agreements, are specific and situational. Employers have made different decisions from among the possible options of how to proceed. We are working directly with these employers to find arrangements that work to the benefit of our members and prioritize protecting their income during this period.”

Since the coronavirus — which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11 — has forced production shutdowns on almost every film and television series, actors have been left with uncertainty regarding how long they are under obligation to a project that may not be able to pick back up for months and may not be paying them in the meantime.

A representative for SAG-AFTRA did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for clarification on what decisions have been made by studios so far regarding Force Majeure clauses.