Union disavows an earlier decision by its Hollywood board

The Screen Actors Guild has officially disavowed a controversial decision by its Hollywood board to explore the “acquisition” of actors repped through the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.

The guild had been ordered three weeks ago by the AFL-CIO to repudiate the May 11 move by its Hollywood board.

SAG, in a brief announcement Friday, said, “Screen Actors Guild reiterates that it will not seek to represent performers currently represented by AFTRA or any other AFL-CIO affiliate.”

SAG also said promised not to take any action in violation of that policy. “The guild disavows any actions or statements of officers, staff, or subsidiary bodies of the guild that may be inconsistent with this policy, including any reference to the ‘acquisition’ of actors, nor should such be construed in a manner contrary to this policy,” the statement concluded.

An AFL-CIO umpire had told SAG on Aug. 31 that it would face “severe” fines for any further discussions of an “acquisition.” The umpire also told SAG to issue a “corrective” statement about the Hollywood board’s action.

AFTRA has not commented about the umpire’s ruling. AFTRA had taken the Hollywood board’s action to the AFL-CIO on grounds that it violated the year-old non-disparagement agreement between the unions, which required both unions to deposit $2 million for potential fines as a condition of negotiating jointly on their commercials contract.

The umpire’s ruling found that the resolution wasn’t in violation because it had arisen in the context of a governing body deliberation but noted that because it implied that AFTRA representation was less desirable than SAG, it also disparaged AFTRA.

SAG and AFTRA have yet to sort out whether they will negotiate jointly on their feature-primetime contracts, which expire in June 2011. But that strategy may become clearer once SAG’s election results are announced on Thursday since the the moderate coalition that controls SAG’s national board has long supported a merger of SAG and AFTRA.

Membership First, which controls the Hollywood board, staunchly opposes any merger and contends that SAG should represent all acting work.

SAG and AFTRA have shared jurisdiction over primetime series and the longstanding agreement has been that SAG reps all projects shot on film, while SAG and AFTRA have an equal shot at projects shot electronically. With more primetime skeins shot in high-definition digital formats, AFTRA’s electronic purview has greatly expanded in the past year as nearly all primetime pilots went AFTRA.

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