EXCLUSIVE: Saturday Night Live’s labor negotiations continue.
After it emerged that a group of crew that work on SNL were threatening to strike over pay and benefits, Deadline understands that the Motion Picture Editors Guild, which represents around 20 of the show’s post-production editors, has met with NBCUniversal today in order to resolve the issue.
We hear that talks happened over Zoom with the guild in talks with West Coast representatives of the network. Sources said that there was a bit of “give or take” in the meeting, as you’d expect but the issue wasn’t fully resolved.
NBC, for its part, has vowed to resolve the situation by the end of the month, ahead of the planned April 1 walk-out by the editors, who generally work on pre-recorded segments for the venerable late-night comedy series.
We hear that there are more meetings scheduled with the next one as early as Monday.
The fresh round of talks come after the guild made proposals to NBCU in December, and NBCU responded on January 13. The guild, however, found the offer unacceptable.
The Motion Picture Editors Guild said that SNL’s editorial team was “paid far below industry standards” and highlighted that assistant editors, in particular, receive “just a fraction” of their union counterparts.
While on one hand it may seem like a labor issue with a small subsect of SNL-ers is not a major issue for the network, but on the other it’s important to remember that many of the guilds, representing many other staffers, are interconnected, if not officially, so it’s essential to come to some form of agreement.
The other important point is that SNL stars are beginning to get involved. As seen on the Pedro Pascal-hosted episode in February, one of the show’s new crop of stars, James Austin Johnson, who is rising quickly up the ranks thanks to his portrayal of Donald Trump, wore a t-shirt bearing the phrase ‘Contract Now.’ If these stars get more vocal, that becomes a bigger issue.
From the NBC side, this is still a fresh issue. Given the fact that this is a first-time contract, with staff that only unionized towards the end of last year, these things take time. Generally these contracts can take months, if not up to a year, so this one is going quicker than most.
The talks are thought to be complicated by the varying nature of certain staffers’ roles and the number of hours that they are contracted to SNL, a key issue considering that they involve health benefits.
They are also slightly complicated by the fact that these meetings are being held on West Coast time for a show that is based in New York, a result of the fact that the negotiations are happening with NBCUniversal brass, rather than Lorne Michaels and his team.
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