Entertainment Industry

« Previous | Company Town Home | Next »

SAG faction takes fresh shot at Allen

The board majority of the Screen Actors Guild today stepped up its efforts to oust the union's executive director, making its case directly to members.   

In an e-mail statement to SAG members, the board's dominant coalition said it no longer had confidence in the leadership of Doug Allen, citing his "failed strategy" for securing a new contract for actors. SAG members have been without a contract for almost seven months.

The statement further accused Allen and SAG President Alan Rosenberg of thwarting the will of the board majority last week, when it was blocked from voting on a resolution to fire Allen and replace the union's negotiating committee.

"We firmly believe that SAG needs a change of course and a new captain,'' the board directors said. "Mr. Allen has held fast to a failed strategy for over half a year, even as members have lost nearly $50 million from working under an expired contract.... With a new direction, we can turn this around and put the Screen Actors Guild back on the right track."

The statement came in a response to a letter Allen wrote last week in which he proposed postponing a strike authorization vote. Instead, he proposed asking members to vote on whether they would accept the studios' final offer without a recommendation from the board.

But the recommendation was roundly dismissed by dissident directors as disingenuous, given that SAG had already spent more than $100,000 discrediting the studios' offer as unacceptable.

Allen has strongly pushed for the strike vote, saying it would give him leverage in negotiations. But his aggressive pursuit of the referendum sparked a backlash among members who felt the tactic was ill-timed, given the hardships facing members amid a deep recession.

If Allen doesn't resign, his hand may be forced. Moderate directors are working on a plan to oust Allen through "written assent," which allows board members to take action by casting their votes in writing. Such a vote could happen later this week.

A SAG spokeswoman said neither Allen nor the guild would comment. In letter to members sent over the weekend, Allen acknowledged that the board is now "deeply and publicly split" and vowed to press ahead with the strike authorization vote if the board does not accept his "compromise."

The suggestion did not sit well with board member Todd Hissong, president of SAG's Chicago branch.

"Yet again you have the audacity to make ultimatums to your employers," Hissong wrote. "I hereby demand your immediate resignation as our National Executive Director."

-- Richard Verrier

Comments () | Archives (9)

Correction to Paragraph 3: The SAG President is Alan Rosenberg, not Doug Allen.

I hope their aim is better this time.

Mr. Verrier,

Your articles consistently site the "board majority of the Screen Actors Guild". This is disingenuous. If the majority wanted Mr. Allen out, he would be out.

Your "board majority" information comes from the top income earners who are producers with conflicts of interests, and who do not represent actor's interests.

I am a professional actor with 30 years as a proud SAG member. I have consistently earned a middle-class income, provided for myself and family, and wish the same for all of the new young members coming into our union.

If we give up on new media our union is dead. SAG will no longer be a union, but a private club for high income actors. New media is the future and there is no going back, and we middle-earners desperately need the residual income therefrom.

We want our team to have a strike authorization so that the playing field is level. Give us a break, Mr. Verrier, and let us proceed to a negotiation without your divisive reports.

In good faith, I cannot help but mistrust you, Mr. Verrier, because of your one-sided articles. If you want the truth, speak to Mr. Asner, one of our venerable members who does not have a hidden agenda.

James Mathers

In response to Mr. Mathers, although I can understand your opinion, you should be ashamed to vote for a strike. Sorry but its just so lame considering what everyone is up against these days. Kiss your middle income goodbye when there is no work left.

Sincerely, A fellow movie industry worker who will be affected by the arrogance of strike voting actors. E.

"Todd Hissong has never acted in one television show or movie in his career.
Not one IMDB credit. He's a voice-over guy.
Paul Christie has a few credits, where he is generally listed as "VOICE".
When these guys lead the charge to merge with AFTRA,
perhaps they can name the new union,

Living and working in a town that very much relies on the the "industry", and who is still recovering from the Writer's Strike, I sincerely hope that the SAG members do not strike.

I think what is forgotten is all the people that a strike will directly affect, yet have no voting rights or say in the matter. I am speaking about the set builders & dressers, the make-up artists, the locations folks, and all the other ancillary businesses who support the actors and the industry, yet get dragged into a strike, unwillingly, and go without ANY money because the actors want more. To me, it seems like such a selfish, disingenuous act, especially given the tough economic times we are in. This strike is not just about getting their "fair" share of the new media outlets, but it is also about getting more or enhanced benefits, including healthcare, etc etc etc, which is something that most of america no longer gets, regardless of their industry.

When to we become grateful for what we have, and try and work together to work harder, to make EVERYONE succcessful - not just those people that have the power to negatively affect the lives of everyone else, for their own personal gain.

Clearly this labor issue is a sensitive one, and I sympathize with all of the hard working actors, not just the A-list seven figure ones, but the those at the working and middle class level, some of whom have to supplement their incomes in between gigs. Although I am in agreement that everyone should be rightfully compensated for their work in this age of new and emerging media platforms, I firmly believe that a fair compromise can be reached that can benefit everyone.

Rather than strong-arming one another and utilizing threat tactics, why are the leaders of the industry and labor guild unable to resolve this issue through clearly negotiated offers that can kick in once the economy is solvent?

There are many out of work right now, the economy is suffering, but we as a collective have the power and ability to see through this conflict and avert a crippling crisis. Our industry has endured past recessions, allowing the country and the world a moment to escape from the daily toil and woes. We need to continue providing that hope to people.

We do not need a strike at this time, it serves no one. We need to get people back to work. Remember that their are thousands of other people, aside from actors, who are integral to getting productions made, who do not receive residuals in any form. A strike would have a domino effect on all of those people, their families and the economy in a time when we all need to hang on to what little we have.

SAG, please find a solution, even if it means tabling the issue until the next bargaining agreement. Find a compromise wherein proceeds can be retroactively paid once the economy bounces back.

Studios/Networks, please stop being obstinate and listen with open ears. We understand you have prepared for a potential strike, have enough product to carry you through to 2011 and are laying off people by the thousands in order to stay in the black. We get it. But you're still making a lot of money on the backs of millions.

I have 22 years in the entertainment industry, I love what I do. I have been on both sides of the table, it is not easy, but nothing worth fighting for ever is. Let's fight to get working in a fair and equitable fashion, not to stop the work and hurt many in the process.



I am merely a middle income American consumer of entertainment product. However, I can say that, even a year since the writers' strike last year, our average little American family watches at least one-third less TV than we watched, purchases less than half the DVD's we purchased and attends less than half the movies in theatres we attended prior to the strike. We do rent more DVDs, read more books from the library, and spend more time on the computer (not watching downloaded videos, though) and listening to music than we did in the year before. With the economy in such a downward spiral, we are watching our spending much more carefully and plunking down $20+ to go to the movie theatre or purchase a DVD requires more enthusiasm than it did in the past. Further, our family is not likely to be enticed to viewing more TV reruns and reality TV and will seek other forms of entertainment rather than doing so. I do not believe our family is unique in these changed pursuits as evidenced by declining movie theatre attendance, decreased TV ratings, and reduced DVD sales revenues. I believe that an actors' strike at this time, with so many people out of work and struggling financially will further reinforce these changed consumer habits and further reduce reliance on purchased entertainment product in favor of other interests. Once new habits are formed, it may take some time and a good bit of temptation before we consumers return to our old behavior. I don't think that anyone is opposed to fair pay for work, but a strike at this time of hardship for so many of us will not be viewed positively by those of us the industry depends upon for its livelihood. While the studios would most certainly be hurt by a strike, SAG leadership and members should consider the long-term effects of a strike and the history of the fallout from similar entertainment industry strikes and determine the long-term legacy of what their decisions at this time may be for all affected parties within and related to the industry.

I am merely a middle income American consumer of entertainment product. However, I know that - even a year after last year's writers' strike - our average little American family watches at least one-third less TV than we watched, purchases half the DVDs we purchased, and attends much fewer movies in theatres than we did prior to the strike. We do rent more DVDs, read more books from the library, spend more time on the computer (though we are not watching more downloaded video content), and listen to more music than we did previously. With all of the uncertainty with jobs and the declining state of the economy, our family is much more careful with our spending. Plunking down $20+ to go to a movie theatre or purchase a DVD requires much more enthusiasm than it has in the past. Further, our family is not likely to be enticed to watch more TV reruns or reality programming and will find other pursuits for our entertainment. I do not believe our family is unique in developing new and less expensive entertainment habits as evidenced by declining theatre attendance, reduced DVD sales, and falling TV viewership. Once habits are broken and new ones formed, it may take some time and significant enticement to persuade consumers to return to their previous entertainment outlets. While no one would disagree that fair pay should be received for fair work, at this time of financial hardship for so many, a strike will not generally be looked upon positively by consumers. Certainly a strike would hurt the studios, but SAG leadership and membership should review the lasting fallout previous entertainment industry strikes have had and should strongly consider the legacy their decisions now will have for the entire industry and those whose fortunes depend upon the entertainment industry for the future to come.


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...

Photos: L.A.’s busiest filming sites