Guild members spar as voting commences

The Screen Actors Guild’s contract ratification battle has kicked into high gear as both sides aim their arguments at the union’s 110,000 members over the next three weeks.

“I believe the right move — the smart move — is voting yes,” said national board member Kate Walsh in a video posted Wednesday on the SAG website. “This contract increases the wages of working actors across the board, expands jurisdiction into areas like stunts, covers more background actors and, looking to the future, breaks unprecedented ground in new media.”

The two sides have already staked out dueling logos and slogans, with the pro-ratification side opting for “Yes for your future” while the con side counters with “No to protect your future.”

“Why is only a slim majority of the SAG national board recommending a yes vote on the TV/theatrical contract?” a widely distributed opposition flyer said. “Because 47% of your board recognizes that this contract is utterly unacceptable.”

Ballots went out Tuesday and are due back on June 9.

The no side will be out in full force at what’s certain to be a contentious town hall meeting tonight. The members-only gathering at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel should see opponents of the deal make a major show of strength — so much so that proponents of the deal have issued a call for their allies to show up.

“The members who oppose this deal — the people who left us without a contract or a plan to get one for so long — want to use this meeting to ‘shame’ the negotiators,” said Amy Aquino, a leader of the moderate coalition. “They’ll be coming, as they do to every event, with their same loud angry group. And the press will be there too. This is the time to show them — and the world — that they don’t speak for Hollywood, and that you support the guild and this plan to get SAG moving forward with raises, more residuals, better benefits, more jobs and a real plan for dealing with the future.”

SAG also is expected to announce today the results of the ratification vote on the three-year commercials contract covering SAG and AFTRA performers. That deal hasn’t generated any opposition and is expected to receive overwhelming approval.

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