Chief negotiator Doug Allen tells Screen Actors Guild members there is no good time for a strike, so the current tough economy is no excuse to accept the studios’ contract offer. SAG leaders will try again to reverse an internal revolt at a special board meeting in mid-month. Allen still insists that the split union is going to come together after that get together and vote yes on a strike authorization.
In a statement posted on the union webside, Allen asks the question and then provides his own answer. “How can we be asked to authorize the National board to call a TV/Theatrical strike in this time of economic crisis?”
“There is no good time to consider a strike. Strikes are called only when management’s bargaining positions are intolerable and then only by a vote of the elected actors on the National Board, if authorized by a membership referendum. But, tough economic times are when it is most necessary to be unified to resist the studios and networks effort to obliterate contract provisions in our future work. The AMPTP’s contract proposal in new media creates a business model with no minimums, no residuals and the right to produce non-union whenever they want,” Allen wrote.
“Our employers are publicly held companies with currently unhappy shareholders whose investments in studios and networks have been severely reduced in value as a result of the Wall Street crash. Our employers will respond by cutting expenses wherever possible. Our only protection from the cost-cutting hatchet is a strong contract – – with minimums, pension/health contributions and safe working conditions, including in all new media formats where our work is clearly headed fast. Just watch and see how many times network dotcom logos appear on your television screen,” he added. Then Allen noted that SAG’s was founded in 1933, during the Great Depression, and signed its first contract with the studios in 1937.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that moderate members will not only vote against holding a strike authorization vote when the union’s board meets this month, but are also trying to line up votes to oust Allen and the rest of the negotiating team. West Coast dissidents and New York board members strongly opposed to how Allen and SAG President Alan Rosenberg have handled the bargaining with the studios hold a slim majority on the board following the last round of elections. Whether all of those board members will stick together to overthrow the current regime remains to be seen.
RBR/TVBR observation: One has to wonder why SAG is willing to waste so much time and effort on internal battling, rather than trying to complete a contract. Alec Baldwin nailed it. The negotiating committee has failed. Appoint a new one and get back to bargaining.