Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood studios have been rescheduled for Thursday after the performers’ union decided to take more time to offer responses to the companies’ latest proposals.
Thursday’s face-to-face gathering will see SAG-AFTRA responding to the companies’ offers after what sources describe as a lackluster return to negotiations on Tuesday. That day, representatives for management — including Disney CEO Bob Iger, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, NBCUniversal Studio Group chairman and chief content officer Donna Langley and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav — presented an adjusted version of the success-based streaming bonus that it had previously offered the union. It’s a version of the proposal that the Writers Guild of America accepted in September to reward members with successful streaming projects.
But it’s still a far cry from what SAG-AFTRA had been advocating for. First, the union sought a share of revenue generated by series shown on streaming platforms (2 percent, which negotiators later downscaled to 1 percent). When studios expressed that this was a significant sticking point, the union pivoted to applying a fee on streaming subscribers, the idea being that if the labor group could establish a structure that would more generously compensate members as the streaming business grew, it wouldn’t have to fight tooth and nail to improve streaming residuals every three years. But the studio side also demurred on that point, walking out of negotiations for nearly two weeks on Oct. 11 largely due to this latest ask.
As of now, says one union-side source, the union believes the studios’ success-based streaming bonus proposal would only affect about 40 out of roughly 600 shows and would be valued at around $27 million a year in extra revenue (as compared with the $500-million-a-year proposal SAG-AFTRA put forward earlier in the month).
On Tuesday the studios also proposed a larger annual pay increase to performers’ contractually defined minimum wages. Management suggested a 7 percent wage bump in the first year of the contract, up from the 5 percent that they had put on the table earlier, and 11 percent for background performers. However, SAG-AFTRA has been advocating for an 11 percent increase for all performers in this first year to account for inflation, so it remains to be seen how the union will react to this latest move.
As of Tuesday, there were still major items left on the table that hadn’t yet been resolved, including regulations on the use of AI, increases to streaming residuals and pension and health contribution caps, according to the union-side source. It is generally understood that the CEOs will stay to address the big-picture items on SAG-AFTRA’s docket, with the usual Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers negotiators handling the rest.