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Screen Actors Guild to seek strike authorization vote

The Screen Actors Guild said early this morning that it would seek a strike authorization vote from members after last-ditch efforts by a federal mediator to end a months-long stalemate in contract negotiations with the major studios sputtered.

"Management continues to insist on terms we cannot possibly accept on behalf of our members," the union said in a statement. "We remain committed to avoiding a strike but now more than ever we cannot allow our employers to experiment with our careers."

SAG, which represents 120,000 actors, said it would now begin a "full-scale education campaign" in support of a strike referendum, in which members would be asked to authorize a strike should their negotiators fail to reach a deal with the studios.

SAG members have been without a contact since June 30 and are sharply at odds with the studios over how actors are to be paid for work distributed over the Internet.

The guild's announcement came shortly after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates on behalf of the major Hollywood studios, disclosed that the "parties were unable to reach an agreement" and that the mediator had "adjourned the process" after two days of meetings.

The outcome was not unexpected. Few pinned much hope that federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez would be able to bridge the enormous gap between the parties. Gonzalez also was unable to mediate a contract dispute last year between writers and the studios.

What's more, the union's 71-member national board previously gave the guild's negotiating committee authority to seek a strike vote in the event that mediation efforts failed. Ultimately, the board will have final say on whether to call an actual walkout, which would shut down most major film and TV production. It's unclear whether newly elected moderates on the national board would seek to block such a drastic action.

Actors previously struck in 2000 in a six-month walkout over a commercials contract. If SAG strikes this time, it probably wouldn't be until early next year. A strike referendum takes several weeks and would probably not occur until after the guild conducts an aggressive campaign to muster support. SAG leaders are expected to time any walkout to disrupt the upcoming Academy Awards and Golden Globe award shows early next year and studio plans to ramp up production on movies set for release in 2010.

It is not uncommon for unions to seek such votes as a way to gain leverage in contract negotiations on the theory that employers would be more inclined to take their demands seriously when confronted with the threat of walkout.

But securing such a vote in the current climate could be difficult for SAG. The referendum would require 75% approval from members who vote in order to pass. Although union members typically grant strike authorizations to leaders in negotiations, that could be a difficult threshold to meet given the deteriorating economy and strike fatigue after a 100-day walkout earlier this year by the Writers Guild of America.

During meetings Thursday and Friday, Gonzalez expressed frustration that neither side appeared to back down from its positions. Among the chief sticking points is SAG's insistence that it should have jurisdiction over all shows created for the Internet, regardless of budget. The studios said that would limit their ability to experiment in new media and instead proposed limiting contracts only to shows above certain budgets levels or when professional actors are hired. They argued that SAG should accept the same new-media pay framework already negotiated by five other unions, including the smaller sister union the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the WGA.

The studios have repeatedly touted how actors were losing out on contract gains negotiated by the other unions. But that argument came under fire this week when the WGA accused the studios of reneging on some of the key terms of its contract negotiated in February -- a point that was seized on by SAG in its statement.

The AMPTP had no immediate response.

-- Richard Verrier

Comments () | Archives (30)

Choosing to strike at this point in our history (after the writer's strike damage) shows how out of touch the SAG is with the "real world economy."

Has there ever been a more inept pair of negotiators? SAG members, you really are risking a lot if you continue to listen to these clowns Allen and Rosenberg.

You have got to be kidding me. These spoiled selfish a**es actors think they have the RIGHT to go on strike and get MORE MONEY???? In this economy??!!!! In ANY Economy?

Give me a break. I don't go to movies now, because I can't afford them. And they're losing out? If you want to be an actor, negotiate a contract like any other occupation. Negotiate a contract with a realistic salary. Millions???? For standing in front of a camera??? Reading a script? Screw these unions. And the heck with these spoiled, selfish people. People need to get back to grass roots. Stop using your hard earned money to enable these people to be this way! Stop supporting this!!!

They should have asked us for a vote on this after the talks went south last summer. Attention Doug Allen, there are those of us out here that can't even audition much less work. But it's good to know your sorry carcass is still taking home a half mil a year. And as for "Unite for Strength" why didn't they just fire this guy and attempt to get at least some minor add-on from the majors. The union is going to appear weak when the strike authorization falls flat on it's face, were dying out here and we can't afford to say yes to any such authorization.

Wow. Selfish. Thanks for waiting until the economy is at its worst. But soon they'll learn. TV viewers have been disappearing at monumental rates, and that will get worse with another strike so soon.

Let Sag send out strike ballots, and when they don't get their 75%, then they will have no leverage against the producers....then they can accept 1/3 of what the original contract offered..they obviously haven't seen the Global economic problems.......unbelievable...

How stupid can you get. Strike during a depression.

Not a very smart move when so many people just wish they had a job. Oh well just cancel cable service forever.

Actors going on strike in this economy is akin to the Big Three automakers each flying a private jet to beg 25 billion in loans from the government: no one with an ounce of good sense would do it.

Don't be such twits! People are losing their jobs, homes, retirement funds and dignity at the moment. Irrespective of the merits of your claims, the timing makes it a ridiculously insensitive thing to do right now. You will certainly not have the support of those millions of people that are- or will soon be- in dire financial straits.

Actors are already looked upon by so many as self-absorbed and self-promoting. Don't add self-parodying to the list.


If you want to settle this, you can. Don't be little children, go back and back and back if you have to to the bargaining table and both of you iron this out.
Every part of the industry will hurt except you two heads.
Who will be hurt?
1. The small actors
2. The grips
3. The lighting
4. The extras
5. The day players
6. The craft services
7. Everyone will be hurt except people like Alan Rosenberg.

You are hurting us all if SAG goes on strike. Obviously, you don't care. So, for everyone, here is a list of the board members, please pass it on. As you say, let's unite, then let us unite and boycott all the movies and write emails to the following SAG board members. It is the following people who will be responsible for all of us, all of you losing your home.

email: saginfo@sag.org

Alan Rosenberg, President
Connie Stevens, Secretary-Treasurer
Anne-Marie Johnson, 1st Vice President
Sam Freed, 2nd Vice President
David Hartley-Margolin, 3rd Vice President
Angel Tompkins
Adam Arkin
Scott Bakula
Molly Ballard
Bonnie Bartlett
Justine Bateman
Mark Blum
Joe Bologna
Amy Brenneman
John Carter Brown
Suzanne Burkhead
Keith Carradine
Seymour Cassel
Tom Chantler
Paul Christie
George Coe
Dave Corey
Roy Costley
Rebecca Damon
Anne DeSalvo
Maureen Donnelly
Cece DuBois
Nancy Duerr
Abby Dylan
Morgan Fairchild
Frances Fisher
Joely Fisher
Nancy Giles
Traci Godfrey
Elliott Gould
Valerie Harper
David Hartley-Margolin
Sumi Haru
Virginia Hawkins
Robert Hays
Todd Hissong
Mike Hodge
Ken Howard
James Huston
Jim Hutchison
William Katt
Lainie Kazan
Ed Kelly
Diane Ladd
Art Lynch
Kent McCord
William Mapother
Richard Masur
Mary McDonald-Lewis
Helen McNutt
Bill Mootos
Esai Morales
Sue-Anne Morrow
Debra Nelson
Pamela Reed
Sam Robards
Stephen F. Schmidt
Matt Servitto
Nancy Sinatra
Renee Taylor
Kate Walsh
Sharon Washington
Angela Watson
JoBeth Williams
Jenny Worman
Liz Zazzi

Don't watch anything these people are in. Don't buy any DVD these people are in. Boycott everything these people are doing commercials for. Don't buy any magazine like People, Star and anything that has their picture in it. And when this strike is over and we're back at work, don't ever speak to these people again. Don't ask for their autograph, don't take their picture.
If the strike is approved, don't ever support any of them again.

It seems a bit foolish that SAG is threatening yet another walkout at a time when the U.S. economy is busy tanking. How many people will this strike affect, how many people will be on unemployment, or unable to find work while union management and the studios do their posturing for the press? Isn't it time that both sides put a little more thought and consideration into the people that are employed by them or that they claim to represent, and what such a strike will mean to the average worker (and I'm not talking about Tom Cruise, or Brad Pitt, or anyone with a 6 figure income)? No wonder the mediator is frustrated, mediation means BOTH sides must compromise. A 'my way or the highway' attitude helps no one, and as usual the people in the middle suffer most.

Let them strike... Who needs them....H'wood needs to think about cleaning up their act anyway..Between x-rated commercials, clothing "accidents" and proliferation of swear words, we wouldn't miss much of value.

With the coming depression we will need as many movies as possible! These unions have to go. With 5% of SAG working and 95% not..I assume there WILL BE A STRIKE! NOT GOOD!

This will cripple the local economy once again. The WGA strike was bad enough, but now SAG? During a recession? Exactly what point are they trying to make?

Seems to me that the studios are talking out of both sides of their mouth. They tell their stockholders how great business is and then tell talent unions that they have no money for increases. They tell the talent that the internet is too young to know how well it will do (can you say cable?) and in future forecasts to stockholders they say they've been advised by their own analysts that the web is going to be the biggest delivery system we've ever seen. So who do we believe? In today's world where we've seen corporate greed grow to alarming numbers, it is no surprise to hear these false statements being made by the producers as they run to the bank with their back end deals, or DVD revenue. It's really sad that they are trying to make the actors, in this case, look like the bad guys. With luck, they will come to their senses and work a fair contract out for all. But as it is, it is impossible now to make a living as a blue-collar actor outside the star system.

Strike? in this economy? and after a writers strike that messed up movies and television for a year? I bet Obama would not be happy with these folks threatening to put all the working people employed by the studios out of work. We as viewers don't need these people. I can watch videos uploaded by amateurs on the net and get as good entertainment. Just like major league baseball-they went on strike when the average salary was 1.2 MILLION! I have not watched a baseball game since. A bunch of drug filled prima donnas.
So go on strike- I'll watch any digitally produced movie the studios put out , but not the jerks that think they were so important that we couldn't do without them.

These poor souls. The government needs to intervene and get these hard working people the millions they deserve. How do you expect them to continue funding the lavish lifestyle on Malibu Beach. You think the Aston Martin is going to run on 87 octane? It's not fair. The one angle I can truly sympathize with is that they are certainly more than entitled to, is their right to residuals. As I repair automobiles for a living, I am going to recommend the same practice to my governing body. While you reluctantly hand me $500 for your vehicle's head gasket replacement, and as I do good, hard, work... it solves your problem. I did the job I was paid to do. But now we are going to introduce the SAG auto plan. Thank you for your business... but now every time you make any type of commute without your vehicle overheating, it's only fair i receive $10.00 per trip. Sound fair?

Go right ahead and strike. Hollywood as a whole has been claiming their "political savvy" for some time now and I think that now would be the perfect opportunity for actors to show the world how astute they are in regards to operating in the "real world". It will show the majority of America just how much weight we should be giving their political blatherings. Please strike. Now.

As for me, I have a house full of wonderful books to read and reread. I have fun internet games to play, as well. So feel free to strike. Take your time. Just don't expect your messiah to bail you out. In the grand scheme of things, your jobs aren't very important. I hope you're not expecting most of us to care if or when you're "back". Buh-bye!

Let the actors strike. I do not think anyone will hold a telethon for them. It is very hard to feel sorry for the SAG members after seeing a bunch of the Hollywood elite at the new Atlantis resort hotel opening in Dubai this past week.

Let''s all take a collective deep breath. SAG has not gone on strike, they have just authorized going forward with a vote. Let them go forward with it and when they don't get their 75%, well then the people will have proven how ineffectual and out of touch they are with the needs of their membership.

Hollywood is already in a depression and this will worsen our descent and may cause all unions to renegotiate.What's up with Gov.Arnold,no tax incentives too shoot in the mecca of movie making. An actors strike could be good for real actors out there that need a start but can't get work because of the poser celebrity actors hogging screen time today.

I would like Jeff Snyder and 'sickofit' to try and spend a single week living the life of a non-celebrity working actor. Hey Jeff, has someone ever told you that you were too tall or too fat or too old to repair a gasket? Probably not. Well, you go put yourself in the running for a one-line role on an episodic television show, even if you're outrageously fortunate enough to get that audition, you could easily lose the job because of something you can't ever control or change about yourself. Try dealing with that EVERY PROFESSIONAL WORK DAY OF YOUR LIFE. Try a profession where YOUR REAL JOB IS THE EFFORT OF TRYING TO GET A JOB. Which you do not get paid for. Ever. Do you understand now why we need residuals? Do you understand that the media cramming images of celebrity Malibu beach houses down your throat has NOTHING to do with the daily lives of 99% of working actors? And "sickofit," if you tried to 'negotiate a contract like any other occupation' as a non-famous, middle-class actor, you'd come out of that 'negotiation' without a job, do you understand? Because they simply GO TO THE NEXT ACTOR ON THE LIST.

This is why SAG needs to fight for their members, and get a fair contract. Regardless of the economy and ignorant fools who think they know what actors go through after watching five minutes of Access Hollywood.

So a strike is only allowed when the economy is good?
Yes a strike will hurt the below the line crew members... Hold on, give me min to read the SAG charter......
nope didn't find anything about looking out for the interests of the crew. Just actors. that is why my union exists, to protect actors, not lighting, not grips, not craft services, but actors.
Alan R. doesnt make 1 million a year, he makes a whole lot less than that- his wife, yes she makes a lot but that's his wife not him; Alan is a solid middle class actor; befret of his wife he would be driving a toyota camry.

Now I imagine that this strike will not happen. Most actors will think - but I dont want to stop working! and sell themselves down the river.

I find it interesting that people who have no idea what this potential strike is about have such inane reasons for SAG tucking our tail and giving in. You don't have the guts to stand for anything in your life. AS for me and many others we stand against the greed and unfair practices of the AMPTP. Here is a suggestion...support us for once...think of the many movies you have watched where the Big Corporation wins in the end...and the answer is zip! We are Norma Rae, The Verdict, Mr Smith Goes to Washington...we are the hope and optimism of our recent election of Barrack Obama. Who's side are you on? Status Quo or a better future

Everyone who works in the film industry will suffer lack of work if there is a strike. Just like we did for the Writer's strike. I work both above and below the line. So If one of my union strikes, one of my other unions has to feel the consequences too.
But if Actors are not getting fair compensation for their work, and we allow that it will ultimately impact fair treatment for all those in the industry.
The issue here is fair compensation for work preformed.
Historically, when any group is fighting to get this, there are compromises to be made. The question here is, how much should SAG members compromise, and currently AMPTP is asking for too much give on SAG's part. Changing trends in how people are viewing our product indicates that addressing new media is extremely important. And that's not the only issue at hand here.
SAG has attempted, up to this point, to get a reasonable resolution without causing a work stoppage. And it will suck for everyone if it comes to that, but sometimes we all need to suffer to make things more fair for everyone.
I invite you to come over to my blog to discuss this issue further at: http://www.reds-world.com/blog/2008/11/sag-strike-scare-whats-going-on.html

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