Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild have admitted they’ll probably have to accept the congloms’ final offer if members don’t approve the strike authorization.
SAG national exec director Doug Allen and president Alan Rosenberg made the disclosure in response to questions Wednesday during a meeting to brief publicists and managers about the authorization campaign. For SAG leaders to be able to call a strike, 75% of those voting would have to vote affirmatively on the authorization.
According to people with knowledge of the confab, the guild toppers conceded that if the authorization isn’t voted up, they would likely agree to the deal proposed five months ago by the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. SAG’s leaders have insisted repeatedly that the offer’s unacceptable, particularly in three “threshold” areas — new-media residuals on ad-supported streaming, new-media jurisdiction and retaining force majeure protections.
SAG held a similar session with about 40 agents Thursday as part of ramping up its campaign to persuade its 120,000 members to approve the authorization. Allen and Rosenberg stressed during that meeting that an authorization being voted up would not necessarily lead to a strike — an assertion that’s been blasted as untrue by the AMPTP.
Karen Stuart, exec director of the Assn. of Talent Agents, confirmed that members of 14 ATA agencies comprised nearly all of those attending the two-hour confab at SAG headquarters but would not comment further.
During Thursday’s session, Allen accused the AMPTP of intransigence during last month’s talks, which were supervised by a federal mediator, and asserted that SAG had made multiple concessions without any corresponding movement from the congloms. Those talks cratered after SAG said it would drop its new-media demands but only on the condition AMPTP boost DVD residuals — long a non-starter for the companies.
Much of the session was devoted to recapping the history of the negotiations, including noting that SAG has staged strikes during other periods of economic uncertainty. One attendee mused that the guild toppers deflected a question about the DGA’s study showing that new media won’t begin to generate significant revenues until 2012.
The guild’s sending out ballots to dues-current members Jan. 2 and will announce the results Jan. 23. Its national board, which has the final say over calling a strike, will meet the next day.
Opposition has been mounting within SAG over the authorization drive. Former board member Keri Tombazian has launched a site at SAGdecision.com and blasted the way Allen and Rosenberg have handled the negotiations with the AMPTP.
“After months without talks, and then just two days of mediation, SAG negotiators announced that they want the members to authorize a strike,” she wrote. “After the 100-day WGA strike; after five other entertainment unions have negotiated deals; in the middle of the worst economic crisis in 80 years: We don’t need a strike — we need our negotiators to negotiate and bring us a deal we can live with for the next 2½ years.”
Terence Howard gave an unenthusiastic response Thursday to the prospect of a SAG strike when asked after the Golden Globes nominations announcement.
“We need to be working right now,” he said. “We’re in a period of serious change. Now is not the time to stop.”
SAG’s leaders have stressed that their objective is not to strike but to use the authorization as a tool for negotiations. The guild added videos on its website Thursday from board members Anne-Marie Johnson and Justine Bateman in support of a yes vote.
Johnson, whose credits include “JAG,” stressed that the vote’s coming at a time when “middle-class” actors like herself are facing fewer employment opportunities and declining residual payment when measured against inflation. “We’re just not earning the same income that we did several years ago for the same work,” she added.