SAG gets tough on nonunion shoots

'Global Rule One' initiative goes into effect May 1

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild, raising the stakes in the battle over foreign markets, put the guild’s 98,500 members on notice that they are toughening enforcement of rules against working on nonunion projects overseas.

In a unanimous voice vote Sunday, SAG’s national board set May 1 as the implementation date for its “Global Rule One” initiative. Action came five weeks after the guild kicked off an informational push urging members not to violate Rule One of SAG’s constitution, which explicitly bars members from working for producers not signatory to SAG agreements.

The guild’s staff has in the past looked the other way when it comes to members who violate Rule One. Sunday’s action did not specify what penalties SAG will levy against members who violate the provision. Penalties for violating the constitution, which falls into the category of conduct unbecoming, can include fines, suspension and expulsion.

High-profile members including Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Tess Harper, Holly Hunter and Kevin Spacey have urged SAG members to refuse work on nonunion contracts.

“Our response to this situation should be clear and simple: No SAG contract, no SAG actor,” Spacey said in a letter last month.

During this year’s film-TV contract negotiations, SAG sought to expand the scope of the contract beyond U.S. borders and contended that rising levels of foreign shoots in less-expensive locales have led to safety problems and declining pension and health contributions.

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers responded that SAG needed to address the question internally, noting that the proposal was not a “mandatory subject of bargaining” because the producers in question are not AMPTP members.

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