A key group of Screen Actors Guild activists have started hammering out strategy to mobilize the 98,000 members for SAG’s upcoming contract negotiations, while stressing that a strike next year is not inevitable.
Leaders of the year-old Members on the Move organization, in a meeting Wednesday night at SAG headquarters that drew 200 activists, said they will be laying groundwork to keep members informed about contract talks. The group, which will meet twice a month, will serve to quell speculation that a work stoppage will definitely take place once the current film-TV pact expires on June 30.
“What we want is fair negotiations rather than a strike,” said co-chair Gordon Drake, who served as chief strike captain during the work stoppage against advertisers by SAG and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. “We see our role as helping to dispel myth and rumors.”
Studio and network execs have been ramping up production to stockpile for possible strikes by actors and writers, but the tone of comments from the meeting echo those of SAG prexy William Daniels, who has stressed repeatedly that the unions want to avoid a work stoppage. SAG and AFTRA leaders held an informal session earlier this week with studio and network CEOs to start preparations for negotiations although the unions have not yet committed to a start date because they need more time to analyze residuals data.
The meeting attracted dozens of strike captains and new members who became part of SAG during the ad strike by performing 80 hours of volunteer work. Other discussion during the three-hour session included scheduling workshops with the AFL-CIO, work by SAG’s committee on strikebreakers, and efforts for members to become more involved in other union activities such as recent support for Teamsters location managers seeking a contract with Disney.
The grassroots org is a subcommittee of SAG’s Natl. Contract Campaign Committee.