SAG gathers to endorse strike

Date not yet set for ballots to be mailed

About 400 Screen Actors Guild members have given their leaders an enthusiastic endorsrement of the guild’s push for a strike authorization.

“I was very gratified by the support from members,” said SAG president Alan Rosenberg after the three-hour meeting at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood. “This isn’t about me and what I earn now — it’s about actors who are coming up and their ability to make a living 20 years from now.”

The meeting, which was at capacity, was held to build support for the authorization vote, which will go out by the end of the month to SAG’s 120,000 members. More than 75% of those voting would have to approve for SAG to go on strike.

Rosenberg noted that when he was particularly pleased when he asked near the end of the meeting for those present to raise their hands if they were going to vote “yes.” “I know that some people had already left but I think everyone else put their hand up,” he added.

SAG leaders did not reveal the exact date that the ballots will be mailed out. The guild has planned two more meetings for members — one in New York on Monday and a Dec. 17 confab at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel.

High profile supporters in attendance included former SAG president Ed Asner, board members Anne-Marie Johnson, Frances Fisher, Kent McCord and Seymour Cassel and former board member Sally Kirkland.

A few members expressed opposition during the question and answer period and former national board member Mike Farrell, who issued a stinging denunciation of the authorization vote last week, attended the early part of the meeting. Amy Brenneman, who received the most votes in September’s election as the leader of the moderate Unite For Strength faction, also attended.

SAG’s continued to insist that it has to receive better terms than the DGA, WGA, IATSE and AFTRA, particularly in new media. For its part, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers has remained insistent that it won’t alter its five-month-old final offer to SAG, particularly amid economic hard times.

“I’d say that people’s during the Q&A tonight were very very worried about new media residuals,” SAG’s national exec director Doug Allen told Daily Variety after the meeting. “They’re very concerned about the fierce resistance by the companies on that issue.”

The SAG meeting came with the congloms asking thesps to peruse the final offer before making the decision to go on strike

“We want you to study our entire offer at AMPTP.org because we believe that the more people understand our offer, the less likely there will be a strike,” the org said. “Vote with all the facts. And ask yourself whether it makes sense to schedule the vote over holidays, making it difficult for working actors to vote and ensuring a low voter turnout. We believe all SAG members are entitled to an open, vigorous public debate with everyone participating in the vote.”

Rosenberg, Allen, Johnson and negotiating committee chief David Jolliffe made presenations. Johnson said that she had stressed that voting for an authorization is designed to give the negotiators leverage rather than to go on strike — a contention disputed by the AMPTP, which insists that SAG will strike if the vote goes through.

Johnson also said most actors aren’t going to be particularly swayed by arguments about the poor economy. “Actors have to spend 90% of the time not working as actors, so they’re used to having to deal with tough circumstances,” she added.

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