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Actors Seek Strike Vote

24 Nov, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The union representing movie and television actors said it would seek authorization from its members to go on strike after marathon negotiations last weekend with studios and TV producers failed to reach agreement on a new contract.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), have not reached an agreement to the labor contract that expired June 30, despite intervention by an outside mediator.

The AMPTP has offered a deal that included $250 million in pay hikes and jurisdiction of new media — similar to what it gave writers and directors. Actors are seeking greater compensation from Internet distribution in addition to revamping the 20-year-old DVD residual agreement, which the studios have steadfastly refused to address.

SAG said the studios continue to insist on terms it cannot “responsibly accept” on behalf of its members. With authorization by its board, the union said it would launch an aggressive education campaign among members in support of a strike authorization referendum. 

Authorization for a work stoppage requires 75% approval from registered SAG members.

“We will further inform our members about the core, critical issues unique to actors that remain in dispute,” said the union in a statement.

Buffeted by a severe economic downturn, budget cuts and layoffs at many studios, the AMPTP characterized the actors’ desire to go on strike as representative of being “completely out of touch with reality.”

“We will also continue to place the burden squarely on SAG to explain why it deserves better deals than the other entertainment guilds received earlier this year,” said the AMPTP in a statement. “A SAG strike in this financial meltdown would be like pouring gasoline on a fire.”


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