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Editors Behind Pre-Filmed Segments on Saturday Night Live Threaten to Go on Strike; NBC Ready to Negotiate


If you’ve been paying attention to Saturday Night Live over the past year or so, you’re probably familiar with Please Don’t Destroy, the comedy trio responsible for many (but not all) of the show’s pre-filmed segments — many of which are highlights are week. Those segments also include music videos and commercial parodies, and they are, of course, edited, but while those editors recently formed a union, they still don’t have a contract with NBCUniversal, and now they’re threatening to go on strike.

“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 [Motion Picture Editors] Guild‘s best efforts, there is still no framework for a contract in place,” Cathy Repola, the national executive director of the Editors Guild, 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.”

The group of part-time post-production workers includes editors, assistant editors, and media managers, and they formed a union with the IATSE-affiliated MPEG in October that was voluntarily recognized by NBC management, though the two sides have only had a single bargaining session since then. The Editors Guild sent NBC management a package of proposals in December, and the company responded on Jan. 13, though the guild rebuffed its offer. Until Monday night, the two sides hadn’t even agreed on further bargaining sessions.

It is the guild’s belief that NBC has either been moving too slowly or stalling altogether by not responding in a timely fashion, which is why the group of SNL workers voted to allow their union to order a strike if necessary. That action has forced NBC back to the negotiating table, and the two sides are figuring out dates for their next sitdown in an effort to avoid a walkout.

Now, just because the union has authorized a strike doesn’t mean that the SNL workers actually will strike, only that they can strike if necessary, which is the kind of leverage to which networks and studios often respond. Of course, SNL would likely still continue — the show must go on, as they say — it just wouldn’t feature those pre-taped segments.

This particular group of SNL workers is often forced to work quite quickly due to the show’s very tight schedule, so they’re asking for increased wages and better working conditions. Expect them to find support from the rest of the show’s heavily unionized workforce, considering the show is directed by DGA members and features actors who are in SAG-AFTRA, not to mention musical guests that also belong to guilds.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news, reporting that members of the bargaining unit wore “Contract Now” shirts to work on Friday in an effort to gin up a sense of urgency on NBC’s part.

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