SAG factions search for support

E-mails fly as sides tussle for position

While SAG members got some relative peace during the holidays, the airwaves were not completely silent. In the matter of the recently delayed strike-authorization vote, voices on both sides of the debate continued to chatter and cajole.

E-mails from SAG's MembershipFirst and Unite for Strength factions have gone out to members in the past week in search of support and to impart information about the balloting that has been moved from Jan. 2 to sometime after an emergency board meeting set for Jan. 12-13.

On Dec. 29, Amy Aquino and Arye Gross of UFS e-mailed supporters asking whether they wanted UFS board members at the meeting to allow the authorization vote to go through or to pressure SAG leadership to rescind it.

The following morning, national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen fired off an e-mail -- one of several to come in a "Know the Facts" campaign -- that aimed to dispel the charge that a strike would "shut down the industry." The missive purportedly was in response to a common question at the recent town hall meetings that SAG leaders have held for members to educate them on the issues in play.

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers responded by declaring that Allen's claim "simply defies reality."

"The 100-day writers strike -- which resulted in the writers receiving the same terms that the DGA achieved without a strike -- cost our economy $2.5 billion," the statement read. "A SAG strike would cost the working families who depend on our industry even more -- at a time when everyone is already under extreme pressure by the unprecedented national economic crisis."

Allen and SAG president Alan Rosenberg plan to hold more town hall meetings for regional branches of the guild in the lead-up to the Jan. 12 face-to-face board meeting in Los Angeles.

While SAG leaders hope to use that opportunity to shore up support for passage of a strike authorization, UFS and other opponents of the measure, such as the New York division, hope to persuade them to withdraw it entirely and replace the negotiating committee with a new, board-appointed "task force" that more fittingly represents the more moderate makeup of the board that resulted from elections in September.

On Tuesday, the Hollywood division of SAG, made up of a majority of more hard-line MembershipFirst members, invited local members-at-large to attend its Jan. 15 board meeting.

SAG has been working under the conditions of its previous TV/theatrical contract since June 30, when it expired, and the AMPTP delivered what it described as its final offer for a new three-year deal.