SAG: We don’t want to strike

Guild leaders send fiery message to members

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild have told their 120,000 members that they don’t want to strike — even though they’re seeking an authorization from to do so.

SAG made the declaration late Monday in a fiery message to members in response to the “open letter” by eight CEOs, accusing the guild of being elitist and unrealistic in its approach to negotiations. Talks between SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers collapsed on Nov. 22, triggering the move by SAG to ask members to endorse the strike authorization.

“SAG does not want a strike,” the missive said. “We made the decision to seek a strike authorization only after the AMPTP continued to stonewall through negotiations and mediation. Now, the AMPTP is attempting to use today’s economic uncertainty to intimidate us into signing away our future for decades to come.”

SAG’s continued to insist that it needs a “yes” vote on the authorization to bring the majors back to the table. And it noted that the AMPTP’s cost of placing the letter as an ad in the Los Angeles Times had been $100,000.

“Obviously, we have their attention,” SAG said. “Send the AMPTP a message by approving a strike authorization to empower SAG’s national board, so the AMPTP knows that we mean business.”

The AMPTP’s final offer to SAG came on June 30 as the master contract for features and primetime expired. The congloms have estimated that actors would have gained $250 million in pay over three years under terms similar to deals signed by the WGA, DGA, IATSE, the casting directors and AFTRA.

SAG’s continued to dispute the AMPTP’s interpretation, insisting that the final offer includes rollbacks and “new media loopholes that would prevent SAG actors from sharing in the studios’ success in any meaningful way when this technology inevitably explodes.”

SAG also cited the dispute between the WGA and the AMPTP over the interpretation of new-media terms in the WGA deal as a basis for claiming the AMPTP can’t be trusted. It noted that the terms of the two-decade-old homevideo deal were crafted under the assumption that it would be revisited and made fair once the technology took off — an interpretation that’s at odds with the majors’ view.

“But for more than two decades the AMPTP continued to give us only a tiny sliver of the billions of dollars of windfall revenue they made selling videocassettes and DVDs,” SAG said. “For SAG members, the question is this: Do you trust the AMPTP? As our colleagues at the Writers Guild of America are learning, the AMPTP has its own interpretation of the deals it makes.”

SAG hasn’t yet set a date for sending out the strike authorization ballots. For SAG to strike, more than 75% of members would have to vote “yes” and the guild’s national board would then have to approve a work stoppage.

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