Actors' union fires right back at ICG

With the Screen Actors Guild’s contract talks showing negligible progress, the Intl. Cinematographers Guild has blasted SAG’s leadership — and SAG has hit back hard.

ICG president Stephen Poster, in a letter to his members sent Friday, said SAG should have make a deal by now and criticized the guild for attacking AFTRA’s primetime pact.

“SAG has not brought anything new or promising to the bargaining table and a factional riff within SAG’s membership is threatening to not only damage the union itself, but the industry as a whole,” he said. Poster denounced the guild leadership as “dysfunctional” in describing what he termed “the sad state” of SAG’s negotiations.

SAG president Alan Rosenberg said in response that Poster’s comments were “shocking and anti-union” and accused Poster of making “threats” against SAG members. And he said he was not surprised by the attack on SAG since the ICG is part of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees — which has a year-old strategic alliance with AFTRA.

Rosenberg also said Poster’s attack was “curious” since IATSE’s spurned SAG’s invite to sit in on the negotiations.

“We are in critical negotiations for a contract for SAG actors,” Rosenberg said. “It would be irresponsible not to educate our members about the impact of AFTRA’s tentative deal on our talks.”

Poster’s missive came with SAG and the majors in their 39th days of talks with the guild’s feature-primetime contract set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. SAG’s urging its 44,000 members who also belong to AFTRA to vote down the latter’s primetime deal, asserting the pact lacks advances in DVD residuals, doesn’t protect actors on force majeure and product integrations and falls short in gains in new media and salaries.

Most feature and TV production’s expected to stop next week although SAG hasn’t yet asked its members for a strike authorization, which would require 75% approval. Poster noted that another work stoppage would have a profound impact on showbiz following the 100-day writers strike, which ended Feb. 12.

“All of us are worried about another industry strike, which would not only destroy any chance of reviving this year’s scripted television season, but also would deal a serious blow to our health and pension plans, neither of which has recovered from the WGA strike,” he noted.

Posted pointed out that a bargaining pattern has already been established by the DGA, WGA and AFTRA in contract agreements reached earlier this year with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

But SAG’s asserted it’s not going to follow the pattern set by other unions and it’s blasted the AMPTP for stalling by not yet offering SAG a deal with terms equivalent to AFTRA’s pact. For its part, the AMPTP’s accused SAG of stalling in order to campaign against the AFTRA ratification vote, with those results expected to be announced July 8.

Rosenberg told Poster that AFTRA had undercut SAG by splitting off from joint negotiations and negotiating an early deal, which covers less than dozen TV shows. “We hope that SAG and AFTRA will bargain from a position of strength and unity again but we cannot allow them to agree to terms for the 90% of television show and ALL motion pictures SAG covers,” he added.

Poster said AFTRA’s deal has “major” gains in new media and salaries and has drawn support from Tom Hanks, Kevin Spacey and Sally Field. SAG’s generated support for its anti-AFTRA stance from Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen and Jack Nicholson; George Clooney issued a call Thursday for a truce between SAG and AFTRA.

“This movie has to end soon,” Poster added. “The paltry gains for which SAG continues to fight do not justify the pain a strike or continued slowdown will bring to those who work in this industry, who fight to pay their mortgages, feed their families and keep their health coverage intact.”

The ICG has about 6,000 members, covering camera crews and publicists. It operates as IATSE Local 600 and is one of IATSE’s largest and most influential locals.

“I am hopeful that SAG will stop attacking AFTRA’s agreement and instead realize the gains that the DGA, WGA and AFTRA have made,” Poster said. “Maybe then, we will have network programming that offers more depth than reality shows. Maybe then, we will have industry peace and not an industry in pieces.”

Rosenberg concluded his letter to Poster on an equally bitter note, accusing Poster of making threats against SAG members.

“I assure you, despite your threats against our 120,000 proud members, Screen Actors guild will always stand solidly behind Local 600 and other IATSE locals that need our solidarity,” he said. “If you are interested in knowing the facts of our negotiation, please feel free to contact me directly.”

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