Wednesday, October 1, 2008

SAG: A Half Step Closer to a Strike

SAG moved closer to a strike today, but not quite as far as some predicted. The guild’s negotiating committee, which has the power to send a strike authorization referendum to the membership at large, instead elected to recommend to the national board that it send out such a referendum.

That board is sharply divided, with a newly-elected Hollywood moderate group, coupled with their New York and regional allies, having a razor-thin margin of control. But that faction, Unite for Strength, may not be united on the issue of strike authorization. They ran on a platform of merger with AFTRA, and didn’t address how they’d approach negotiations.

The new members are also less experienced in the parliamentary procedure used by the 71-member national board, and they’re up against the fact that the board is chaired by the guild president, who’s aligned with the hardline Membership First faction that also controls the negotiating committee – and other levers of power, such as the National Executive Director and the separate Hollywood board.

But perhaps the toughest problem for the Hollywood moderates is that if they oppose a strike authorization, they risk being blamed by Membership First in the next elections (11 months away) for the flawed deal that SAG will probably have to accept under any circumstances.

Thus, it would come as no surprise if the national board voted to send a strike authorization to the members. That authorization would require an affirmative vote from 75% or more of those voting in order to pass. (Note — not 75% of the total SAG membership, as some outlets have mistakenly reported.) If the turnout is low, as it was for SAG’s push poll (10%), SAG might achieve that threshold — as it did with the push poll (87%), albeit on a different question (whether to keep negotiating, not whether to strike). The board might then vote to take the union out on strike even if only a few thousand members voted for it.

It seems bizarre that SAG might strike over gaps in the new media template, since the medium will account for very little revenue over the next few years — and the gaps will, accordingly, probably be of little consequence over the next three years — and do so even as the economy as a whole deteriorates, but that’s entertainment, apparently.


  1. Maybe the National Board should send it right back to the Committee: "We told you before that you had this authority, so if you want to use it, go ahead and use it. Don't push it back to us."


  2. Dear 'VG',

    You are yet another uninformed actor that hasn't done the research first.

    The negotiating committee has been placed in the current position they are in due to non-negotiation by the AMPTP.

    To put it in as plain English as possible, the AMPTP are not now (nor have they been) bargaining WITH SAG in any way shape or form.

    The AMPTP has maintained that their offer is the same one they originally presented and was passed by AFTRA.

    A deal once again that was passed for the sake of the entity NOT for the sake of the membership-

    Perhaps, 'VG', you can live on that contract that gave everything away (particularly New Media residuals which SAG has as a non-negotiable point on the table at present) but working actors can't.
    Working actors that make a living as day players and background artists.
    Actors that are being told by the AMPTP that they do not have the right to have residuals as a form of income in between gigs. Gigs that only gets booked once or twice every six months in some cases by hard working professional actors.

    The inter-union fighting and the waiting on sureveys and then the new elections for the new board are all excuses which the AMPTP has held out over.
    They refuse to negotiate. The longer the AMPTP holds out and does not negotiate, the worse SAG has looked to the industry as a whole, because "gosh, it's SAG- not anyone else!"

    Now 'VG'- you've stated that the negotiating committee has the power to decide. Yes they do- but this, as with all decisions that leadership has made, has been twisted and pureed into a blend of misinformation by various media sources (including Mr.Handel in certain instances)- and why not? It's news worthy. What a better time to share an opinion and be looked at for having the answers!

    The National, IMHO, is now being asked to make the decision so that there can be no excuse as to who is making the right choice on behalf of the entire membership.

    No matter the direction this continues to go, the controversy will continue to be capitalized on by the media and independent writers alike.
    Having an opinion about what the negotiating committee SHOULD be doing throughout the process gets readers.
    Playing on the positive and the volunteer efforts of the negotiating committee is too easy of a target not to shoot.

    There is a National membership meeting being held on Sunday, October 19th from 2-6PM at the Marriott Los Angeles Downtown Hotel. 3333 S. Figueroa Street, CA 90071. Perhaps 'VG' you can learn along with other members who are misinformed the facts.

    Another Anonymous Know-It-All