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Old 02-24-09, 02:19 AM
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Actors union rejects studio contract offer

Actors union rejects studio contract offer
Sun Feb 22, 1:35 am ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The largest U.S. actors union on Saturday rejected a "last, best and final" contract offer from major film and television studios, saying a late demand from their Hollywood bosses was a step backward.

The national governing board of the Screen Actors Guild, which represents some 120,000 actors, voted by nearly 75 percent to decline the studio deal largely due to a change from producers calling for a new contract start date.

"The (studios') last-minute, surprise demand for a new term of agreement ... is regressive and damaging and clearly signals the employers' unwillingness" to strike a deal, SAG said in a statement.

The studios, which are represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, responded quickly, saying in their own statement, "we simply cannot offer SAG a better deal" than one similar to those agreed to in 2008 by several other Hollywood trade unions.

For now, the two sides appear to be at a stalemate, again, in their long and bitter labor negotiations after the previous labor deal ended on June 30, 2008.
A spokesman for the studios declined to comment beyond their statement and a SAG spokeswoman was not immediately available.

Three days of renewed talks between the parties ended acrimoniously Thursday after both bargained away key demands but could not seal a deal when the studios proposed that any new contract start roughly when it was signed.

SAG's negotiating task force balked, citing a long-standing practice of dating contracts retroactively using a start date that coincided with the end of the previous labor agreement.

When those renewed talks broke down, SAG said it would submit the studios' final terms to the governing board.

The standoff has kept some film and TV production in limbo, and Hollywood remains concerned about a work stoppage like last year's screenwriters strike that cost the local economy as much as $3 billion by one estimate.

The rejection by SAG's board comes a day ahead of the glitzy Oscars, the world's top film awards, and is sure to spark more internal discourse among SAG's rank-and-file.

No date for new talks has been set and SAG soon enters a new round of commercial negotiations, so the stalemate could last for weeks.

In the meantime, SAG members continue to work under their old contract.

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Eric Beech)

Actors union rejects studio contract offer
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