Members of SAG-AFTRA have taken to the picket lines on Thursday, hours after talks with Hollywood studios broke down.
The two sides have had five days of meetings that everyone assumed were very productive, but now we’re learning the latest meeting wasn’t so much.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief negotiator, gave KTLA 5’s Sam Rubin an exclusive interview as to what is actually happening inside those talks.
The latest one he described as rocky.
“I never in a million years thought they were going to call me afterward and say, ‘We’ve decided to walk away from the table,'” he explained. “It’s a mystery to me why they think that is a way to help move this process forward … The process was moving forward. We presented them with a full set of counteroffers yesterday.”
He provided one example regarding the issue of streaming revenue.
“They had told us during this few days of the process, that they were just adamantly opposed to our streaming revenue share proposal to anything that was attached to revenue. So we came back yesterday with a huge change in that proposal, took it out of revenue, linked it to subscribers. I fully expected them to say, ‘Wow,’ and instead, this is what we got back. It’s incredibly frustrating because our committee, our members, have worked so hard to help move this negotiation forward. We’ve made real moves, and they haven’t been reciprocated.”
Following the failed talks, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers released their deal to the public, as they did during talks with the Writers Guild of America. Many say this is a tactic to try and gain public support.
“SAG-AFTRA’s current offer included what it characterized as a viewership bonus that, by itself, would cost more than $800 million per year – which would create an untenable economic burden,” read part of an AMPTP statement that was obtained by Deadline.
But, Crabtree-Ireland said the AMPTP’s description of the deal is a mischaracterization and dropped this big piece of information.
“That proposal is less than the cost of one postage stamp per subscriber per year. So, tell me why in an industry that has 885 million global subscribers, that is receiving billions and billions of dollars, they don’t feel like they could share a postage stamp’s worth of their money with the actors who helped make that platform exist. It just it’s not right,” he explained.
Crabtree-Ireland said what AMPTP describes is not what’s being relayed to them in the meeting room.
“One of the items on that list says they’ve agreed to full consent for all actors and background actors and artificial intelligence, just not true. In the proposal that they gave back to us last week it says that for franchise projects, like if you’re going to be in a Marvel Cinematic Universe, they can require you to give your consent on day one of employment for projects that won’t be made for 10,15 or 20 years. It’s just not accurate,” he exclaimed.
He said union members are “really upset about the mischaracterization” by the studios and are making sure everyone knows “what really happened.”
Crabtree-Ireland also accused the AMPTP of essentially dragging their feet when it comes to negotiating in general.
“We’ve been trying to work towards a deal. When they walk away from the table, just like they did with the Writers Guild, that does not move anything forward, that delays this process. It makes the hurt that people are feeling even harder and longer. It’s not right. We were willing to talk from July 12. They waited 90 days to get back into the room with us and then walk away again. They did the same thing to the Writers Guild.”
He believes the reason for this is because the studio heads aren’t as impacted as the actors.
“They don’t feel it themselves in the same way. They’re not out of jobs. No one’s taking their paycheck away. They don’t feel what the hurt is that they’re inflicting on the workers in this industry.”
Crabtree-Ireland commended the others in the industry who are “standing united” about “fighting for something that really matters.” He wants the public to know, this is more than just about making money – it’s about fighting for what’s right.
“This is about things like people’s image and likeness being owned by these companies and abused and used, that is not going to happen. And there is going to be a fair and respectful deal that’s made here. We need them back at the table to do it.”
There have been rumors that the strike will be over by the end of this month or early November, which Crabtree-Ireland hopes for.
“We’re ready to meet, we were ready to be back at the table with them today. We were supposed to be at the table with them today. We had a full day of bargaining scheduled for today that they canceled last night,” he explained.
The actors have been on strike since mid-July after negotiations broke down with the AMPTP.
If the studios were in front of Crabtree-Ireland now, here’s what he would say:
“Talk with us. Let’s find the path to a deal. That’s what we’re trying to do. But it’s not going to happen. When you get upset about something and walk away. If we walked away every time we got upset about something in life – that’s that’s not how you make a deal.”