SAG board votes WGA support

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Related story: Next up for talks: Mediation

SAG's board, which has been split over a recent showdown with AFTRA, met in plenary session this weekend but publicly acknowledged only the passage of a statement of support for the WGA in that guild's contract talks with the studios.

The board met all day Saturday and Sunday morning, followed by a membership meeting Sunday afternoon. But it was unclear whether the board formally considered any change to its earlier decision to adopt so-called bloc voting in its own looming contract negotiations.

Under SAG's longstanding "Phase One" agreement with AFTRA, the two labor organizations have been set to negotiate jointly their next collective-bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

The current pact is set to expire June 30, and early planning for negotiating the next contract normally would begin in the near future. But AFTRA recently claimed SAG's move toward bloc voting has effectively severed the Phase One agreement.

Under bloc voting, SAG members on the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee first would caucus among themselves and then lodge a unanimous vote on any negotiating issue coming before the committee. Even within SAG, the move has been controversial, with the guild and its board split geographically by the controversy.

Many Hollywood branch members view bloc voting as a means of minimizing influence from AFTRA, whom they often view as a jurisdictional interloper. But New York division members tend to be pro-AFTRA, even regularly calling for the merger of SAG and AFTRA.

On Saturday, the SAG board passed a statement of support for the WGA, currently locked in difficult film and TV negotiations with the AMPTP.

"The guild supports the WGA and any other guild or union that seeks (to) fight for fair compensation and protections for creative talent in the motion picture, television, and new media industries," the SAG board said.

The board also criticized the AMPTP's current bargaining positions as "unreasonable." SAG directors specifically objected to management's balking at increased DVD and Internet compensation, and to its since-withdrawn proposal to tie a cost-recouping provision to future residual payments.

SAG has an advisory committee monitoring the WGA's contract talks.
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