A recently unionized group of postproduction workers at Saturday Night Live has authorized a strike in an effort to expedite negotiations on their first contract, which they claim have stalled in early stages of talks.
On Thursday Jan. 12 the crew of around 20 part-time film editors, editors, assistant editors and media managers voted in a meeting over Zoom to allow their union to order a strike if necessary amid the slow-moving contract talks, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The group, which unionized with the IATSE-affiliated Motion Picture Editors Guild in October, is responsible for postproduction on pre-taped sketches, like music videos and commercial parodies, shot before the live show. After the union was voluntarily recognized by NBC management in October, the group has so far only had one bargaining session with NBC, with no additional dates currently scheduled. The Editors Guild sent management a package of proposals in December.
A strike authorization vote that results in support for a work stoppage does not mean that workers will go on strike; instead, it allows organizers to use a potential strike as leverage and call one if they deem it necessary.
“The film workers at ‘SNL’ last year made it clear they want a union, and management acknowledged their wishes. Therefore it’s very disappointing that despite the Guild’s best efforts, there is still no framework for a contract in place,” The Editors Guild’s national executive director Cathy Repola said in a statement. “We remain committed to getting a contract in place as soon as possible and leave all options on the table to achieve that goal.”
THR has contacted Saturday Night Live representatives for comment.
Members of the bargaining unit wore “Contract Now” shirts to work on Friday in an effort to accelerate the contract timeline. “We feel that the NBCUniversal labor team that is on the other side of the table to this just have not really responded in a timely manner or in a substantial manner, really, to address data points that were submitted to them,” said one member of the bargaining unit, who requested anonymity.
While the Editors Guild’s priorities with this contract negotiation were not immediately available, the original impetus for unionizing was broadly improving wage and working conditions. When the group unionized in October, Editors Guild second vice president Louis Bertini argued that the group “works at breakneck speed under extraordinarily tight schedules.”
If their union does eventually order a strike and this group does picket SNL, sources say the show could certainly go on, albeit potentially without pre-taped segments. It’s an open question, however, as to how SNL‘s heavily unionized workforce would react to a picket line at 30 Rock. Members of the Directors Guild of America, other IATSE Locals and SAG-AFTRA all work on the show, with guest hosts and musical guests sometimes also members of entertainment unions.
“The show works at such a fast pace, we know the company knows how to do things quickly and effectively,” said the member of the bargaining unit. “So we want to see that happening on the negotiation side from them.”