Frustrated by the refusal of the TV and movie studios to return to the bargaining table, the negotiating committee of the Screen Actors Guild has asked the union’s national board to order a membership vote to authorize a strike. Whether such a vote will actually happen is still in question.
The negotiating committee, consisting mostly of the hard-liners who used to control SAG, has kicked the decision over to the national board, which will be controlled by more moderate elements once newly elected members take their seats at mid-month.
The official motion from the negotiating committee was full of “whereas” claims, but it came down to this: “A strike authorization vote of the membership is necessary to overcome the employers’ intransigence, and the Committee therefore recommends that the National Board authorize such a vote be taken; and further recommends: That the National Board adopt a resolution strongly supporting such an action, and recommending that the membership vote in favor of a strike authorization; and That the National Board endorse an educational campaign advocating a “yes” membership vote, to give the authority to the National Board to call a strike only if the National Board deems it necessary and unavoidable to do so. “
That may be as far as this goes, since this is as much as anything else about political infighting within SAG. The new members of the national board may seek to calm the waters rather than move toward outright war with the studios.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reiterated its position that its “final offer” to SAG is the best it can do: “Is this really the time for anyone associated with the entertainment business to be talking about going on strike? Not only is the business suffering from recent economic conditions, but if ever there was a time when Americans wanted the diversions of movies and television, it is now. The DGA, WGA and AFTRA reached agreement on comparable terms months ago, during far better economic times, and it is unrealistic for SAG negotiators now to expect even better terms during this grim financial climate. This is the harsh economic reality, and no strike will change that reality,” the studios bargaining group said in a statement.
Rather that a strike vote, AMPTP has been calling for SAG to put the studios’ offer to a vote of the union’s membership.
RBR/TVBR observation: Posturing or insanity? Those are the only two possibilities we see. Actually calling a strike in the current economic environment would be so stupid that no one in their right mind would even think about it.