SAG moderates fire back at Doug Allen

Group reiterates desire for a 'new captain'

PARK CITY -- The tug of war continues on the labor front.

Moderate forces on SAG's national board responded Monday to a letter sent to the guild's membership the day before by national executive director Doug Allen. In a message made available by Unite for Strength leader Ned Vaughn that was sent to guild members through regional lists, the moderates cited "a crippling leadership crisis," charging that Allen's latest proposal is "not a serious effort to get a better deal."

After last week's marathon emergency board meeting, Allen proposed bypassing a controversial strike-authorization vote and delivering the studios' contract offer to the membership for a ratification vote. Before doing so, he suggested meeting with the AMPTP one last time, then sending out the contract for a vote with no official board recommendation.

Allen reiterated all of that in a letter sent to members Sunday.

The board's moderate faction comprises members from Hollywood -- including Unite for Strength -- New York and the regional branches. They hold a slight majority of the panel's 71 seats.

The moderates' response Monday reiterated their contention that progress can be made in contract talks only if Allen is removed, an effort that was thwarted during last week's sitdown.

"We firmly believe that SAG needs a change of course and a new captain," the moderates stated. "Mr. Allen has held fast to a failed strategy for over half a year, even as members have lost nearly $50 million from working under an expired contract."

The moderate faction hopes to finalize a contract it can send out with an official positive recommendation and nail down other agreements, including an impending new commercials contract.

The letter alludes to "concrete steps" moderates are planning to achieve their goals of removing Allen and replacing the guild's negotiating committee. These could include forcing another board meeting or delivering a majority assertion outside of an official meeting that would pass muster with SAG lawyers.