SAG Threatens Strike, Producers Resolute

The Screen Actors Guild is close to a strike authorization vote--but that doesn't necessarily mean a strike. The slow-moving, now five-month-long deadlock over a new TV and theatrical contract seems to be moving toward a strike.

No date has been set, and even SAG President Alan Rosenberg has said that a strike-authorization vote does not necessarily mean the union will immediately go on strike. SAG requires 75% of its voting members to approve the measure in order to go forward.

Talks broke down between the actors' union and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers over the weekend, which was arranged by a federal mediator.

The SAG now says: "We will now launch a full-scale education campaign in support of a strike-authorization referendum. We will further inform our members about the core, critical issues unique to actors that remain in dispute."

Last Thursday, the two sides met. Before that, they spoke in mid-July, when the SAG rejected AMPTP's $250 million final offer. The producers have said the SAG will not get better agreements than the ones reached by other industry unions--including the WGA, DGA and AFTRA. The issues stem from SAG wanting better compensation, especially for new digital media platforms.



Entertainment business analysts have suggested that a weak economy plays into the producers' hands and against the actors' union. Not so, says a SAG official--who notes that in tough financial times, performers need a fairer deal more than ever.

A SAG strike now would come exactly one year after the Writers Guild strike began over the same issues. That strike lasted three months and cost the industry approximately $500 million, according to industry estimates.

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