SAG's Doug Allen angles for compromise

Posts letter to clarity position on strike vote

PARK CITY -- Doug Allen has drawn another line in the sand. The embattled SAG national executive director over the weekend continued to reach out to guild members about the ongoing internal fracas over what direction the guild should take in stalled contract negotiations.

In a letter sent to members and posted on the guild's Web site Sunday, Allen sought to clarify to the membership at large the "compromise" he proposed to the national board following the all-night executive session held last Monday and Tuesday. Since the 30-hour meeting resulted in no official action on Allen's status as chief negotiator, he subsequently proposed bypassing the promised strike-authorization vote, meeting one last time with the AMPTP and then sending out the TV/theatrical contract offer itself for a ratification vote by the full membership.

"If the national board does not adopt this compromise," Allen wrote Sunday, "or otherwise change the decision the board made in October, the strike-authorization referendum will be conducted, with ballots sent to every eligible member for a vote."

The Oct. 19 board decision was, as he pointed out in his Sunday missive, to send out a strike-authorization vote should federal mediation fail. Originally set to go out to eligible members Jan. 2, ballots have been indefinitely delayed as the guild has ratcheted up its civil war over Allen's handling of negotiations stalled since the end of June.

So: Send out the contract for a vote, send out strike-authorization ballots for a vote or retract the October resolution putting that vote in play.

Moderates may smell disingenuousness in Allen's ultimatum. As part of an omnibus resolution it tried to pass last week, the moderates on the national board sought to rescind the strike vote and replace the negotiating committee but were stymied by Allen's confederates on the board.

"After mediation failed," Allen wrote Sunday, "a number of national board members publicly repudiated the board's almost unanimous decision to ask the members to authorize the board to decide whether, and if so when, to call a strike. Although I believe giving the national board the authorization to determine whether to call a strike is our best strategy, that strategy has been severely compromised by the division of a now deeply and publicly split national board leadership.

"Because my subsequent letter (Wednesday) to the board describing my proposal has been made public," Allen concluded on Sunday, "I wanted you to hear from me what I proposed. Please read my letter to the national board. I encourage you to communicate with your elected leadership and me your views on this subject."

Moderates critical of Allen's proposal claim that a ratification vote, sent out with pro and con statements by board members, would be far from neutral given how much time and money the leadership has spent discrediting the producers' offer.

No future board meeting is scheduled, and no date for either an authorization vote or a contract ratification vote has been scheduled.
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