Actors receive 'vote yes' messages for new deal

The Screen Actors Guild brawl over its contract ratification continues to heat up, with thesps receiving unsolicited robo-calls in support of the deal.

SAG expanded its contract campaign Tuesday with hundreds of automated phone calls featuring a pre-recorded message from national board member Adam Arkin, a leader of the moderate coalition that controls the national board. Arkin and ally Amy Brenneman received the top voting totals in last fall’s elections.

Several more robo-calls in support of the deal are planned in the coming days, but SAG hasn’t revealed who’s been tapped to record those messages.

The “vote no” side has no plans to engage in robo-calls since it doesn’t have access to the official membership list of telephone numbers, according to SAG first VP Anne-Marie Johnson. The thesp, one of the leading voices against the deal, told Daily Variety that automated calls have been an effective tactic in past SAG campaigns.

During the weeks leading up to last summer’s ratification vote on AFTRA’s primetime deal, members received automated phone calls from James Cromwell in support while SAG struck back with robo-calls from Sandra Oh, Ed Asner and Sean Penn urging the 44,000 dual cardholders to vote down the AFTRA pact.

Control of SAG’s national board shifted last fall to a moderate coalition that’s backing the SAG deal as containing the best achievable terms. The guild sent out 110,000 ballots a week ago with a return date of June 9, including a minority report on behalf of the national board members who rejected the deal and contend that voting it down will lead the congloms to improve the terms.

The robo-calls came on the heels of a SAG message to members over the weekend that blasted the opponents for allegedly circulating misinformation and “trying to take the union down” by holding out for a better deal.

Johnson contended Tuesday that the missive was counterproductive because of its attack on other members. “Members that have contacted me say that they were offended by the message,” she added.

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