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SAG Delays Mailing Strike Authorization Ballots

22 Dec, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Citing a large number of actors (including high-profile) in opposition to a proposed strike, the Screen Actors Guild Dec. 22 said it would postpone until Jan. 12 mailing out ballots to its 120,000 members seeking authorization for a strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the union representing studios and television networks.

SAG earlier this month said it would seek authorization Jan. 2 from union members for a strike. If 75% of the membership approved a strike, the union’s national board could authorize Hollywood actors’ first major work stoppage since 1980.

Doug Allen, national executive director and chief negotiator for SAG, and guild president Allen Rosenberg, said they would hold a special face-to-face national board meeting in Los Angeles during the week of Jan. 12 to discuss the “unfortunate” division among members and how to restore the consensus generated in October.

“This division does not help our effort to get an agreement from the AMPTP that our members will ratify,” Allen said in a statement to guild members.

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 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 it was “proud” of the contracts made with other entertainment guilds, including writers, directors and daytime actors, despite the growing economic crisis. 

“We sincerely hope that, before too much time passes in 2009, we will also reach a labor agreement with [SAG],” said the AMPTP.

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