Anthony Rapp claims that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers repeatedly canceled meetings during the final days of extended contract negotiations with SAG-AFTRA and wanted “free rein” on various issues, including AI and self-recording.
“[After] At a certain point in the process, I’m not surprised that we’re here, but at first I thought, okay, maybe they’re getting the message,” said the Star Trek: Discovery actor and member of the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee said the hollywood reporter on Friday during the first day of the actors’ union strike. “Because we went in with the strike authorization vote, it was a really great turnout, it was a big margin, I thought it would be enough leverage to maybe get them a little more serious.”
Rapp said that, as a member of the bargaining committee for the first time, he found the studios’ approach to working on a basic new theater and television contract, talks for which began June 7, perplexing and disappointing. “I don’t know if it’s just that they think they’re kidding themselves or what,” he said. “I don’t even know the number of days they didn’t even come to the table, including an extension they didn’t get involved with.”
“These last few days, they kept canceling our meetings. They did not want to meet with us, and then they called the federal mediators. I have no problem with a federal mediator being part of the process to learn, observe, and help in any way, but even then, they didn’t engage with us until the end of the day, when we sat across from them. and let them know that we were very far apart on all of these issues, so we were going to call for the strike to be authorized,” Rapp recalled as he spoke with THR at the Netflix picket line in New York on Friday.
On Monday, an AMPTP spokesman denied that the studios had canceled the meetings before the July 12 negotiation deadline, saying the hollywood reporter“It is simply not true that the meetings were cancelled, or that the AMPTP would not meet with SAG-AFTRA.”
The actor said SAG-AFTRA plans to follow a move made by the Writers Union and publish a “matrix” of the union’s and AMPTP’s proposals, which released details of its proposal in a memo on July 13. quickly,” Rapp said. “So there will be a real explanation of some of the detailed proposals and how they were or were not addressed by the studies.”
Rapp, while talking to the documentary. Harlan County, USAabout the coal miners’ “Brookside Strike” of 1973, said THR that some of the AMPTP’s comments have sounded like “the sort of thing people were saying in the Pinkerton-era coal mining fights.”
“When we announced that we were going on strike, and I’m paraphrasing, they said we couldn’t talk to you anymore because we need to talk to civilized people,” Rapp said. “Organized labor is protected in all sorts of ways by federal law, state law. It is our right to strike. That’s part of the process.”
Rapp was specifically responding to a comment made by the union’s chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, during a press conference on Thursday announcing the strike. Crabtree-Ireland told union members and the press that during a July 12 exchange with the studio’s negotiators, the union said they would be willing to come back to the table when the AMPTP was “ready to do it”.
“Their response to us was that they would be ready to talk as long as we acted in a civil manner and were not on strike,” he continued. “We told them that it is not uncivilized for people to go on strike. It is a moral right. It is a human right, and it is a legal right of our members to collectively bargain, organize and strike if necessary to defend their rights.”
Reiterating previous public statements, an AMPTP spokesperson said THR Crabtree-Ireland’s summary of the union’s position was out of context. “As stated before, the comment in question has been distorted and taken completely out of context,” the studios representative said.
Rapp joined other actors in New York on July 14, who made it clear through their chants that they feel some of AMPTP’s actions, particularly around the disputed AI proposal, are an attempt to bust unions. It is a sentiment echoed by others such as Sorry to bother you director-writer Boots Riley and A Black Lady Sketch Show writer and actress Ashley Nicole Blackand it was heard in chants at pickets on Friday, like reported by news.
“I feel like it’s an anti-union effort, absolutely, and possibly driven by the entry of companies like Amazon or Apple,” the SAG-AFTRA board member said of the AMPTP’s positions during the negotiations. “Interestingly, when Netflix was disbanded, Netflix was actually engaging with the union in all kinds of ways that were innovative, and we were making good progress with them on a number of fronts. Then they joined the AMPTP, so now they are part of the collective and all the dynamics are very strange”. (The AMPTP did not comment on this characterization.)
Rapp joined a large collection of fellow actors, WGA, IATSE, other union members and local Democratic Socialists of America groups outside the Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery New York offices in Union Square as the first double walkout began in Hollywood since 1960. off. While picketing, Rapp, who was with her husband Ken Ithiphol and her son Rai, explained the early days of the negotiations, how a federal monitor was hired and the biggest issues facing the actors.
That includes an artificial intelligence proposal mentioned by Crabtree-Ireland during Thursday’s press briefing, which would allegedly allow digital replicas of background actors to be used for a single day’s pay in perpetuity without consent or additional compensation. (The AMPTP has claimed that Crabtree-Ireland’s summary of its proposal is “false”.)
Rapp shared that while the actors union submitted its own AI proposal early in negotiations, it wasn’t until the Sunday or Monday before the extension deadline that the union “heard from them about their counter proposal to the package.”
THR has reached out to SAG-AFTRA representatives for comment.
“They are resistant to the idea that they would have to be consulted on how they could use it,” Rapp said of the negotiations over the use of AI for actors. “What if they want to use my image in a scene where a character kills a baby or in a sex scene? They wouldn’t even put fences around it. None.”
Limitations and barriers around the job were a recurring theme in conversations with the studios, according to the New York bargaining committee member. That includes the use of self-recorded tapes for auditions, a subject that Rent star said it was one of the strongest difficulties the union heard from members about entering into negotiations.
Increasingly prevalent in the industry following the expansion of virtual and remote work during the pandemic, some artists Let’s just say that self-recording places the work that was once predominantly done by setting up offices on the shoulders of actors, who sometimes feel the pressure to pay out-of-pocket for better equipment. while he was talking to THR, Rapp acknowledged that “we all have phones,” but that people also sometimes have to pay to have someone else read with them. It’s an issue where the union board member said the studios “just want free rein.”
“There are no regulations on how much we are asked to do. People are getting requests for 20 pages of material for the next day. All the specifications: it is like receiving a job interview and having to prepare a thesis for the next day, ”he said. “That is a quality of life problem. This type of problem is not necessarily about taking money out of [the studios’] pocket. It is simply about trying to intervene in a process that generates better working conditions”.
While the transmission’s impact on waste was a recurring topic among players on the line in New York on Friday, Rapp also pointed to its impact on union health and pension contributions, more specifically current contract limits. Caps are the point at which studios will no longer pay for an individual actor’s health and pension plans beyond a certain dollar amount of earnings.
“In addition to your money, there is the percentage that goes to pension and health. That has increased over the years, but there are caps on the money you earn,” explained the member of the union’s bargaining committee. “Those limits have not been increased in 40 years, and they are reluctant to increase them in the wake of the pandemic, when it became even clearer how important and vital access to health care is.”
Rapp added that this not only interferes with health plan funding, but makes it more difficult for actors to qualify for medical care in a television climate where the number of episodes per season is dwindling. “Now when we’re doing eight episodes, 10 episodes, instead of 22 episodes because of the way the landscape has changed, all the money that goes into the health plan has gone down anyway,” he continued. “They are not willing to make up for that. They are not willing to truly adjust or fully participate in it.”
“When [SAG-AFTRA president] Fran [Drescher] He said yesterday that we were being obstructed, that’s what he meant,” Rapp said.