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SAG Inches Toward Strike as Producers Hold Firm

2 Oct, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Faced with what it perceives as growing intransigence by producers to resolve stalled labor talks, the national negotiating committee of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Oct. 1 passed an advisory motion to the national board seeking membership vote authorizing a strike.

To authorize a strike — the first by actors since 1980 — would require 75% approval of the guild’s 120,000 members. A poll last month found that 87% of voters supported SAG leadership in the negotiations. However, just 10% of the guild’s entire membership actually voted in the poll.

In a letter to the board, the guild’s negotiating committee said authorization of a strike was a “necessity” and “a necessary prerequisite for its success.”

The actors are seeking a greater stake in new media, current DVD residuals and other issues. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) agreed to grant actors increased benefits and jurisdiction in new media but refused to discuss DVD.

"We've done all we can do to compromise and work with our employers, and they've refused to budge," Anne-Marie Johnson, a member of SAG’s negotiating committee, told the Los Angeles Times.

The producers say their contract offer, which includes $250 million in increased benefits, is comparable to deals reached with the Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America and American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. They say it is unrealistic for SAG to expect better terms given the current economic climate.

“Is this really the time for anyone associated with the entertainment business to be talking about going on strike?” the AMPTP said. “If ever there was a time when Americans wanted the diversions of movies and television, it is now. This is the harsh economic reality, and no strike will change that reality.”


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