SAG: Authorization does not mean strike

Union leadership seeks to assure membership

SAG president Alan Rosenberg had a message for members Friday morning: Seeking strike authorization does not necessarily mean a strike.

Rosenberg and SAG's chief negotiator and national executive director Doug Allen sent an e-mail to its members late Thursday, attempting to put at ease the fears that voting for strike authorization means members will in fact go on strike.

"It is important to note that if passed by a majority of the national board, the resolution does not call a strike," the two wrote. "It only provides for a membership referendum to be conducted, which will take approximately 30-45 days."

Additionally, if the national board decides to send out a strike referendum, 75% of SAG members who vote must vote in favor of a strike.

SAG's negotiating committee on Oct. 1 put the decision whether to ask the membership for a strike authorization in the hands of its national board. The negotiating committee had been authorized to implement a strike referendum with membership over the summer, but given the change on the national board and Hollywood board it decided to place the responsibility on the larger governing body.

"Although the national negotiating committee is empowered to authorize such a referendum, the committee felt that the national board should be the body to debate and decide this important issue at this time," Rosenberg and Allen wrote.

In response to the letter, the AMPTP said in a statement Friday: "SAG negotiators seem determined to force another unnecessary, harmful strike. Why else would SAG negotiators be unreasonably insisting, at a time of national economic collapse, on a better deal than the ones achieved by the other Hollywood Guilds much earlier this year, during much better economic times?"

A strike would affect only those covered in the TV/theatrical portion of SAG's contract, including those in feature films, free TV and pay cable TV.

Other contracts, including commercial, TV animation, basic cable TV and basic cable animation, industrial contract and interactive/video game contract will not be affected by a work stoppage, according to the guild.

Additionally, SAG reports it has 750 guaranteed completion contracts with independent film producers who are not connected to any members of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

Given the harsh economic times, the AMPTP has questioned whether asking the membership for strike authorization would gain anything for the guild.

"Not only is the business suffering from recent economic conditions, but f ever there was a time when Americans wanted the diversions of movies and television, it is now," the AMPTP wrote Oct. 1. "The DGA, WGA and AFTRA reached agreement on comparable terms months ago, during far better economic times, and it is unrealistic for SAG negotiators now to expect even better terms during this grim financial climate."