The AMPTP today sent the following message to its employers:
“We are disappointed to report that the federal mediation efforts between SAG and AMPTP failed in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 22nd, when mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez ended the process.
“The mediation failed for one fundamental reason: SAG continued unrealistically to insist on a substantially better deal than all of the other major Hollywood Guilds and Unions have negotiated so far in 2008. In the end, it was clear that SAG was not serious about using the mediation process to make a deal. Instead, SAG appears to have manipulated the mediation process in an attempt to achieve precisely the result it has wanted all along: A strike by SAG members.
“SAG has not justified why it deserves to be treated differently than the industry’s other Guilds and Unions – particularly at a time of extraordinary economic distress for both the country and the entertainment business. SAG refuses to deviate from its unrealistic position, even continuing to cling to its proposal to change the DVD residual formula.
“AMPTP has already negotiated six major labor agreements in 2008 alone, including the pact just concluded with IATSE. We are prepared to conclude an agreement with SAG, but we simply do not see any justification for SAG receiving more than we have offered – a deal that is every bit as good as the ones the industry’s other Guilds and Unions have negotiated in far better economic times.
“AMPTP’s offer to SAG members is fair and strong – and at least until now, we have kept the offer on the table despite the precipitous economic decline of the last several months. Whether we will be able to continue to do so in the face of the economic downturn remains to be seen. We are now prepared to continue explaining the merits of our offer in every way that we possibly can. The more SAG members understand about the fairness and strength of our offer, especially during a time of historic economic distress, the less likely they will be to authorize a strike.
“We will also continue to place the burden squarely on SAG to explain why it deserves better deals than the other entertainment Guilds received earlier this year — particularly in light of the fact that the earlier deals were negotiated during better economic times, and SAG is attempting to reach a deal now during a period of tremendous economic upheaval.
“Finally, and most importantly, SAG should understand that a strike would be economically devastating to the entire industry, including its own members, as well as to the overall economy. The unreal timing of the call by SAG for a strike in the midst of one of the worst economic crisis the global system has ever faced, demonstrates once and for all that SAG is completely out of touch with reality. A SAG strike in this financial meltdown would be like pouring gasoline on a fire, and it is astonishing that SAG would call for a strike vote when the rest of the country is reeling from an unprecedented financial crisis.
“Make no mistake about this: If SAG members authorize a strike, then a strike is all but guaranteed because SAG has shown no willingness to compromise on its unrealistic demands. Simply put, a vote to authorize a strike will lead inexorably to a strike, and a strike would cost SAG members far more than they can ever expect to gain.
“In short, over the coming days and weeks, AMPTP will continue vigorously to communicate our fundamental position: The six other labor agreements Producers have made this year couple significant economic gains with groundbreaking new media rights. The new media template simply cannot be abandoned at this point because it will undermine our industry’s ability to compete in this new market. The bottom line is clear: No strike authorization – and no strike – can change these basic facts.