SAG, AFTRA advising members to strike

May 1 is deadline for walkout

Hollywood’s actor unions have sent out 155,000 strike notices to members, instructing them to stop working on commercial productions a week from today.

If the leaders of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists do not return to the bargaining table by then, the advertising industry will be forced to use non-union talent, convince union members to defy their leaders or stop production.

“The Joint National SAG/AFTRA Boards of Directors instruct all SAG and AFTRA members to withhold performing services and auditioning for English and Spanish-language television commercials (on film or tape) and recorded radio commercials beginning at 12:01 a.m. (ET) on Monday, May 1, 2000,” the notice said.

The “official bulletin” notices began to arrive by mail on Friday and Saturday to the 135,000 active union members along with another 20,000 whose memberships have lapsed in recent years. The document instructed actors that, once the strike starts, they should not agree to allow producers to extend or reinstate agreements for use of individual commercials. It also declared that no other member of a U.S. performers union would be allowed to perform commercial work being struck by SAG and AFTRA.

The notice also said the strike was only for TV and radio commercial work and would not affect other areas of work including film, TV shows, radio programs, interactive programs, sound recordings, musicvideos, news and industrial/educational projects.

The SAG Web site recently posted a warning about working during the strike, saying that any member who violates the directive will face disciplinary charges, saying, “Expulsion from the unions is a real possibility.”

It also told non-members that there will be consequences to working during a strike. “Non-members should be aware that their acceptance of work during a strike — in essence, crossing the picket line — could impact any future possibility of membership,” the site said.

For their part, the advertisers — represented by the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies and the Assn. of National Advertisers — have told their members to keep working and not sign “interim agreements” with the unions, which would compensate performers according to the terms offered by union negotiators when talks collapsed on April 14.

Leaders of SAG and AFTRA voted 150-0 last week to strike. Actors last struck in 1988, for 18 days after commercial talks broke down.

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