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Resolute SAG Seeks Strike Vote in January

10 Dec, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The union representing movie and television actors Dec. 10 said it would formally send strike authorization ballots to members Jan. 2, 2009, with the results tabulated Jan. 23.

If 75% of the Screen Actors Guild’s (SAG) 120,000 members approve a strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the union’s national board could authorize Hollywood actors’ first major work stoppage since 1980.

Both sides, which have failed to find agreement despite involvement of a federal mediator, have been working under the previous labor contract, which expired June 30.

SAG president Alan Rosenberg said a “yes” vote would send a strong message to the studios and empower union negotiators with the threat of a strike.

“Our objective remains to get a deal that SAG members will ratify — not to go on strike," Doug Allen, SAG national executive director and chief negotiator, said in a statement.

Actors are seeking greater compensation from Internet distribution, in addition to revamping the 20-year-old home video residual agreement, which studios have steadfastly refused to address. The agreement originally applied to VHS, but the subsequent arrival of DVD and Blu-ray Disc made potential residuals a more lucrative prospect.

In addition to increased minimums, pension and health care provisions, the new contract presented by the AMPTP offers jurisdiction on new-media programs, in addition to first-ever residuals on ad-supported streams of movies, TV shows, permanent downloads (burn to disc), original and derivative new-media programs.

The AMPTP said SAG members are being asked to bail out their union’s failed negotiating efforts by going on strike during one of the worst economic periods in history.

“We hope that working actors will study our contract offer carefully and come to the conclusion that no strike can solve the problems that have been created by SAG's own failed negotiation strategy,” the trade group said in a statement.

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