SAG sets ratification effort

Guild launches 'Yes for Your Future' campaign

The Screen Actors Guild’s launched its pro-ratification campaign by reminding members that work has slowed down due to the expiration of the feature-primetime contract nearly a year ago.

“Screen Actors Guild national board of directors strongly recommends your yes vote on this contract,” said a message to members Friday. “Let’s get back to work with a raise.”

The “Yes for Your Future” campaign launched with a pair of members-only townhall meetings being set: May 21 at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel and June 1 at the DGA Theater in New York City.

The guild’s updated its website with highlights and a summary of the two-year tentative agreement reached on April 17. SAG interim national exec director David White and chief negotiator John McGuire saw talks with the majors crater in mid-February after the congloms demanded an expiration date in 2012 but were able to negotiate an expiration of June 30, 2011 — which keeps SAG’s pact in synch with those of the WGA, DGA and AFTRA.

The SAG execs took a low-key position sans advocacy in their message to members Friday, saying, “We know how important this contract is to all Screen Actors Guild members. We urge you to stay informed by visiting http://www.sag.org often, attending the member informational meeting in your area and contacting us with questions and comments.”

SAG had originally planned to send out the ratification ballots in early May, but the guild needed more time to prepare the pro and con statements going out with the ballot to its 120,000 members. Ballots will go out May 19 with a June 9 return date.

That means the next four weeks will see a resumption of the bitter battles between the hardline Membership First faction, which is opposing the deal, and a moderate coalition that gained a narrow majority on the national board in the fall. The moderates on that panel approved the tentative agreement with a 53% endorsement on April 19.

For its part, Membership First has staged more than a dozen demonstrations against the deal, contending that the explosive growth of new-media precludes accepting the same template as the WGA, DGA and AFTRA. They’ve contended that voting the deal down would force the congloms to offer SAG better terms — though the congloms have insisted for the past year that they will not sweeten the deal.

Membership First will hold a rally at Griffith Park on May 17.

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