SAG torn by membership split


The Screen Actors Guild and the studios have exchanged new charges and countercharges over their stalled contract negotiations. But SAG itself is facing internal strife, with President Alan Rosenberg declaring himself to be “shocked and troubled” by public opposition to the union’s planned strike authorization vote.

In a video posted on the SAG website, Rosenberg warns against accepting the studios’ offer and accepting their assurances that the issue of new media compensation will be revisited in three years when more is known about the revenues to be had. He claims that could repeat the scenario of VHS videotapes, where he maintains that actors have been stuck with continuation of an undervalued deal.

But Rosenberg is facing a rebellion from SAG membership. A letter signed by 130 big name stars called on the union to call off the strike authorization vote, cut a deal with the studios and focus on uniting with other unions for a big push in three years. SAG itself had previously distributed a letter signed by 31 A-list actors who urged support for the union negotiating committee by approving the strike authorization.

The studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), bought another full-page ad in some publications to state their case. This time AMPTP directly targeted Rosenberg, taking quotes from the union chief and countering with what the studios claim are “the facts.” The studios maintain that rather than being the “beginning of the end of residuals,” as claimed by Rosenberg, that the AMPTP offer includes the first-ever residuals for ad-supported streaming and new media productions. And they spelled out the financial improvements that SAG members have not yet received because they have not approved a new contract with the studios.

For his part, Rosenberg fired back that the eight studio heads should come to the bargaining table instead of using ads. The AMPTP members have steadfastly stated that AMPTP’s negotiators represent them and there is no need to bring the CEOs into the talks directly.

RBR/TVBR observation: Rosenberg and his negotiating committee have backed themselves into a corner. The strike authorization vote requires 75% approval, which now seems pretty unlikely. If they go ahead with the vote and the strike authorization is rejected, SAG will be in a weakened position to try to get any contract completed with the studios.