Aieee, it’s alive! Remember Phase One? That’s the 27 year old joint bargaining arrangement between SAG and AFTRA that collapsed this spring, leading to AFTRA making a separate primetime TV deal with the studios and networks and SAG sliding into a stalemate, leaving it with no deal after unsuccessfully trying to defeat AFTRA’s. Hostility abounded.
With all that, Phase One appeared to be a dead letter, although officially it was only suspended or something like that. Now it seems Phase One may not be so dead after all. The SAG and AFTRA commercials contracts expire March 31, 2009 (extended from October 31) and AFTRA has taken a step towards joint negotiation, approving a deal that would set conditions for joint bargaining with SAG under Phase One.
Of course, the devil is in the details. The AFTRA press release did not include the terms of the agreement, saying that they were confidential until the SAG National Board acts on them. That meeting is scheduled for October 18.
In any case, AFTRA noted that the agreement was facilitated by the AFL-CIO, which is a good sign, and Back Stage magazine’s Blog Stage blog says SAG approval is likely (though no source or explanation is offered for this, so the basis for the conclusion is unclear).
In another surprising touch, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon commented to Blog Stage that “I do have to commend President Rosenberg and Doug Allen [SAG's national executive director] for working hard on this.” That’s probably the nicest thing either union has said to the other all year. Let’s hope the spirit of comity continues, and the unions can negotiate together.
Of course, the town’s more immediate concern is whether SAG will go on strike against the studios and networks. (In contrast, the commercials contracts are negotiated with associations of the major advertisers and ad agencies, a completely separate group.) It looks like Reardon shares that concern, telling Blog Stage that it would be difficult for SAG to negotiate a commercials deal while simultaneously waging a strike but “you still have to prepare.” Indeed.