The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced Sunday that its national board “overwhelmingly voted” Saturday to suspend the joint bargaining process under the Phase One agreement with the Screen Actors Guild and negotiate its primetime-TV contract on its own.
The national board also approved tentative agreements reached with employers for the AFTRA Network Television Code and the AFTRA Sound Recordings Code and adopted procedures for membership ratification of the contracts.
As a result of the suspension of joint bargaining with SAG, the national board canceled its scheduled joint meeting with the SAG board and instead continued its special session.
“During the past year, AFTRA has fought hard and expended an enormous amount of time, energy, and resources to maintain the integrity of our Phase One joint bargaining process with the Screen Actors Guild so we could sit across the table from the industry with total and unequivocal unity,” AFTRA national president Roberta Reardon said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, SAG leadership has made this impossible,” she added. “For the past year, SAG leadership in Hollywood has engaged in a relentless campaign of disinformation and disparagement, culminating in a recent attempt to decertify an AFTRA daytime soap opera. As a result of this continued and ongoing behavior by SAG leadership -- which, at its core, harms all working performers and the labor movement -- we find ourselves unable to have confidence in their ability to live up to the principles of partnership and union solidarity. AFTRA believes it must now devote its full energies to working on behalf of performers and not wasting time assessing whether our partner is being honest with us.”
She concluded, “The board’s approval of a suspension of Phase One -- not a termination -- was mindful of the fact that there many among SAG's leadership that are as troubled by the events that have led us to this point as we are. We are hopeful that someday, the historic trust between these two organizations can be rebuilt -- in the best interests of all performers.”
The Screen Actors Guild responded that the move was a last-second gambit that will not serve AFTRA's members well.
"We remain focused on negotiating the best terms for actors covered by the TV/Theatrical Contract,” SAG president Alan Rosenberg said. "We spent weeks working with our fellow actors in AFTRA on joint proposals to improve the lives of all working actors. AFTRA's refusal now to bargain together with us and their last-second abandonment of the joint process is calculated, cynical and may serve the interests of their institution, but not its members."