With an assist from Sally Field, the Screen Actors Guild has launched the final push for members to ratify its feature-primetime contract — nearly a year after the previous deal expired.
“It raises salaries immediately and raises benefits and new media benefits that pave the way for the future,” Field said in a video posted Thursday evening on the SAG website. “So find that contract that’s on your desk and vote yes. Let’s get back to work.”
Field, who has run afoul with the SAG hardliners in recent years, noted that she’s been a SAG member since 1964 and that her stepfather served on the SAG national board during Ronald Reagan’s guild presidency. “It’s been a very very important part of my life,” she added.
SAG notified members about Field’s video in a message to members, reminding them that ballots are due Tuesday. Ballots went out May 19 to 110,000 SAG members.
Opponents of the deal have continued to contend that the tentative agreement is unacceptable, particularly in new media, with Melissa Leo, SAG national board member Scott Bakula and former SAG president Kathleen Nolan urging members to vote the deal down.
“Producers are trying to make the best deal that they can for themselves,” Bakula said. “Why is it that actors are always being asked to take the high road?”
Bakula also accused the proponents of “acting without integrity” while Leo cited the election of President Obama as a reason to vote down the deal. “Let’s take some time to figure out a better way,” she added.
Nolan asserted that the explosive growth in digital platforms will mean that actors are paid far less, concluding, “You cannot build a “new media’ on the backs of the very people that made it viable.”
The vote comes more than a year after SAG began negotiations. A shift in control of the national board last fall led to the ouster of national exec director Doug Allen for allegedly bungling the negotiations; the current deal was OK’d by a mere 53% of the national board in April.
SAG president Alan Rosenberg has continued to insist that the board needs to to send out a strike authorization vote — which would require 75% support among those voting — and then go on strike it the congloms don’t offer a “fair” contract.
Proponents of the deal have attacked Rosenberg’s plan as unrealistic.They’ve noted that members have been working under terms and conditions of a film-TV contract that expired last June 30, when the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers made their final offer, leading to SAG members losing out on an estimated $85 million in salary gains as a result.
Besides Field, Alec Baldwin, George Clooney and Tom Hanks are among the 1,200 members who have endorsed ratification. Opponents include Martin Sheen, John Heard, former president Ed Asner and board members Elliott Gould, Esai Morales and Nancy Sinatra.