SAG-AFTRA Says Its Interim Agreements Are “Vital Part” Of Strike Strategy – Deadline

SAG-AFTRA tonight responded to criticism of its interim agreements, saying that they are a “vital part of our strategic approach to these negotiations and to the strike.” The interim agreements allow truly independent projects to film during the strike as long as they agree to be bound by the terms of whatever deal the guild eventually reaches with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Critics include Sarah Silverman, who erroneously called actors who work on those projects “scabs,” though she admitted on social media last week that that “I know I just must not be understanding something.”

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The guild’s negotiating committee, in a message to members, is attempting to clear up those and other misunderstandings.

“Some have suggested that the Interim Agreement might prolong the strike, but we disagree,” the message says. “We believe the leverage created by increasing competitive pressure on the AMPTP and denying them what they want most will force them back to the table and help bring this strike to an end.

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“We understand the concern that our Interim Agreement may produce content for struck companies to distribute. We are confident that the terms of this agreement, particularly the streaming revenue share, will make distribution of these projects through AMPTP platforms unfeasible, until such time as an industrywide agreement has been reached.”

The negotiating committee notes that prior to the start of negotiations it “made the decision to allow producers, who may otherwise fall within the scope of the strike order, to apply for an Interim Agreement. Make no mistake, we are striking the AMPTP companies only, not independent productions that abide by the terms of our Interim Agreement. It behooves us to make this strategic move. 

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“The Interim Agreement gives many of our journeyman performers and crews the opportunity to pay their rent and feed their families. This approach maintains our strength, solidarity and upper hand with the AMPTP until they yield to the deal we deserve. The Interim Agreement is not a waiver. To be clear, it is a contract that includes all terms and conditions for producers looking to employ our members on their specific independent productions.

“The union thoroughly vets and approves each and every project seeking an Interim Agreement. Regardless of the size of the budget or the renown of the cast, these projects have been confirmed to be separate from the AMPTP and entirely independent, except for in extraordinary circumstances mandated by legal considerations, such as Tehran. It is important to note that the terms of the Interim Agreement have been designed by our Negotiating Committee and the Contracts Department to reflect the terms we are bargaining for in negotiations. The independent producers must agree to all of the terms, without exception, including the very proposals that the AMPTP rejected.

“This Interim Agreement was created for several reasons, all of which are aimed at protecting the interests of our members, helping them successfully navigate the strike and demonstrating to the AMPTP that other producers are eager to work with our members under these terms.

  • The Interim Agreement ensures that our members are able to work for these non-struck companies.
  • Working with these independent producers proves that the wage increases and other terms, which the AMPTP has so far rejected, are in fact reasonable and appropriate. 
  • If and when an Interim Agreement project is distributed during the strike, the members will receive the full benefit of the improved terms of our agreement.
  • Prior to a ratified deal with the AMPTP stemming from our negotiations, the agreement will demonstrate that our proposed residuals formulas, including the streaming revenue-sharing, are economically viable within our industry. 
  • After a ratified deal with the AMPTP, the Interim Agreement will conform to our final terms, terms which will fairly compensate and protect our members.
  • The Interim Agreement encourages production budgets to be directed to union-covered projects employing union members rather than fueling a pipeline of non-union foreign productions.

The negotiating committee went on to say that “the Interim Agreement is a vital part of our strategic approach to these negotiations and to the strike. If the AMPTP continues to refuse to bargain, our strategy denies them the ability to freely make their own original productions, allowing everyone other than the AMPTP to produce content with our members. We urge independent producers to apply and encourage SAG-AFTRA members to work on the projects that obtain an Interim Agreement, along with all of the other permissible work we support.

“We will continue to work hard to negotiate fair compensation and safe working conditions for our members, and we thank you for your continued support through the strike.”

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