SAG delays strike authorization vote

Decides to mail ballots on Jan. 14 at earliest

Lately, SAG members have seen more drama inside of the guild than outside of it.

On Monday night, SAG national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen e-mailed guild members to inform them that the impending strike authorization vote has been delayed until after an emergency national board meeting.

The ballots were to have gone out Jan. 2 but now won't be delivered to dues-paying members until after a new scheduled face-to-face meeting in Los Angeles on Jan. 12 and 13.

While this drags out the uncertainty regarding a potential strike, SAG leadership hopes to use the meeting and intervening time to "restore the consensus demonstrated by the national board at our October meeting" and persuade more of its membership of the necessity of the strike authorization, Allen said.

Allen's e-mail followed one from SAG president Alan Rosenberg stressing the need for unity in the guild.

Clamping down on public dissent will also be a priority at the meeting, given how the guild's civil war has become increasingly public and hostile.

Meanwhile, the AMPTP reiterated its request that SAG members "study the producers' offer at and make an independent decision as to whether it makes sense to strike over a deal that will raise wages, raise benefits, add new residuals and establish jurisdiction in new media for the first time."

Allen and Rosenberg maintain that the authorization vote will still take place. "In light of the subject matter of this special meeting," Allen said, "the strike authorization balloting will be rescheduled to take place over a three-week period immediately following this special board meeting."

This could mean that ballots are mailed Jan. 14, which would give the guild its yea-or-nay answer on Feb. 3. At least 75% of voters would have to approve the measure to hand SAG's national board authorization to call a strike.

The delayed vote means that, if the authorization is passed, SAG could still draw a bull's-eye on the Feb. 22 Oscars ceremony to try and pressure the producers into concessions.

By calling the emergency meeting, the guild's leaders may have decided that public opposition to the vote had cast its passage in doubt, necessitating some internal retrenchment and additional time to sell the membership on the "yes" vote.