In a sparse, low-key corner suite located on the sixth floor of the US Customs Building at 6 World Trade Center, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) today hosted a return to the bargaining table by core negotiating teams from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and the Joint Policy Committee (JPC).
The Sept. 13 restart of talks is the latest development in the commercial strike by SAG and AFTRA against the producers of television commercials. SAG and AFTRA have separate contracts covering commercial work but they are "identical" one AFTRA source told Playbill On-Line and are negotiated "jointly."
Now in the fifth month of their strike, the actors' unions still seek three key goals: to protect the current royalty system for traditional broadcast commercials; to get a raise in the rate for commercials aired on cable; and an acknowledgement of union jurisdiction over commercials that air on the Internet.
All of the commercial work aired on radio is covered by AFTRA, while the bulk of the money earned in commercials is for work covered under the jurisdiction of SAG.
While a few negotiators arrived at the FMCS as early as 9:40 AM, others came in over the next 20-30 minutes. At 10 AM, SAG president William Daniels stepped into the building from the hot morning sun on the World Trade Center plaza. Asked to comment on the restart of the talks, Daniels politely declined, telling Playbill On-Line, "I'm sorry, I can't. We're late." -- By Murdoch McBride