After negotiators for SAG-AFTRA and the major Hollywood studios met for the first time since the actors union walked off the job in mid-July, talks are set to resume Wednesday in a bid to put scripted film and TV productions back in business.
Following Monday's initial negotiating session, the two sides issued a joint statement saying only that they had met for a full day. No details were released.
Earlier Monday, SAG-AFTRA leaders wrote in a social media statement, "Today, we go back to the bargaining table to fight for the contract you deserve. Keep turning out in full force on our picket lines and at solidarity events around the country. Let the AMPTP hear your voices loud and clear."
The union announced last week it would resume talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, on Monday.
"Several executives from AMPTP member companies will be in attendance. As negotiations proceed, we will report any substantiative updates directly to you," SAG-AFTRA said in last week's statement.
It was unclear if the so-called "Gang of Four" studio executives -- NBCUniversal's Donna Langley, Warner Bros Discovery's David Zaslav, Netflix's Ted Sarandos and Disney's Bob Iger -- attended Monday's talks at the SAG-AFTRA headquarters in the Mid-Wilshire area. The four studio bosses attended at least some of the final negotiating sessions that led to a tentative contract deal with the Writers Guild of America union.
The WGA strike officially ended at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday after union leaders on the East and West coasts endorsed the tentative contract deal. The union's membership began a ratification vote Monday that will continue until next Monday.
The WGA strike began May 2, with actors going on strike in mid-July over many of the same issues, including residual formulas for streamed content and protections against the use of artificial intelligence.
The twin labor actions brought the entertainment industry to a halt, with actors and writers walking picket lines daily in front of the major Hollywood studios.
While negotiators for the WGA and the AMPTP worked to hash out their tentative deal, SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP had not had official before Monday.
SAG-AFTRA represents about 160,000 actors. Its demands include general wage increases, protections against the use of actor images through artificial intelligence, boosts in compensation for successful streaming programs and improvements in health and retirement benefits.
The deal reached by WGA and AMPTP leaders includes stepped increases of minimum salaries that will jump by 5% upon ratification, 4% in May 2024 and 3.5% in May 2025. There are also increases in health and pension contributions.
The proposed WGA contract also includes restrictions on studios' use of artificial intelligence, barring AI from writing or rewriting literary material and preventing AI-generated material from being considered source material, meaning it can't "undermine a writer's credit."
The proposal also includes a new residual formula for streaming programs that boosts pay for particularly successful programs. Also included are increases in pay for writers employed on TV series, along with employment guarantees for set numbers of writers on series, based on the number of episodes being produced.
Some points of the writers' deal are likely to be used as a template for negotiations with actors, although SAG-AFTRA's demands differ in some aspects, most notably in the level of wage hikes being sought.
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