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Report: SAG Boss Confident of Strike Vote

7 Oct, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The head of the actors’ union is reportedly confident members will vote to authorize a work stoppage against the studios and television producers despite the downturned economic climate.

Alan Rosenberg, president of Screen Actors Guild (SAG), told Reuters Oct. 6 the union was seeking to end the 90-day stalemate with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

“No matter how hard times are, you can’t let fear and apprehension prompt you to trade away the future,” Rosenberg told Reuters.

The 120,000-member union has been operating under the former labor deal that expired June 30. At issue is how actors will be compensated for new media, including the Internet, and whether Web-based productions fall under jurisdiction of the contract.

Rosenberg also wants to revisit DVD residuals, an issue the studios have refused to broach, much to the chagrin of the SAG leader, who feels the union has been shortchanged on the lucrative home video market.

The AMPTP has offered a deal that included $250 million in pay hikes and jurisdiction of new media. SAG’s national board of directors July 26 unanimously rejected the “final” contract offer.

The studios, which have refused to continue negotiations, last week called on the actors to recognize the “unprecedented” economic difficulties facing the industry and the nation.

“We do not believe that it would be productive to resume negotiations at this time given SAG’s continued insistence on terms which the companies have repeatedly rejected,” said J. Nicholas Counter, chief negotiator for AMPTP.

Authorization of a strike would require 75% support of members. This summer less than 11,000 voted in a poll not to accept the studios’ offer and continue negotiating.

Complicating matters, interim elections resulted in arrival of less hawkish board members apparently more willing to entertain the studios’ offer.

SAG leaders are slated to meet and discuss a strike Oct. 18.

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