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Actor George Clooney

SAG Will Postpone Strike Vote

December 24, 2008 12:56 PM
by Rachel Balik
Heeding the protests of an ever-growing member opposition, SAG has decided to delay a vote to authorize an actors strike.

SAG Acknowledges Dissent and Delays Vote

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Doug Allen, chief negotiator and National Executive Director of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), has announced that the group’s National Board has postponed a January vote authorizing an actors strike. In a press release on SAG’s Web site, Allen stated that the Board was perturbed by the division among its members and lack of support for strike. Instead of a vote, the Board will meet on January 12 to discuss how to unify the union and garner renewed support for the heavily opposed strike.

More than 100 big-name stars, including George Clooney and Tom Hanks, expressed unhappiness over the failed negotiations between SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Carell are also among the stars who say that, in light of economic woes, now is the wrong time to put people out of jobs. The petition urges SAG to postpone negotiations for three years.

Allen expressed the concern of SAG leaders that division among members will make it more difficult to triumph in negotiations with AMPTP. In October, members were unified in support of a strike. The board meeting in mid-January will focus on ways to restore agreement among members.

Background: Actors, producers can’t agree on payments for online broadcasts

After several months of negotiations and a final, epic 27-hour session, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have not yet settled how actors should be paid for work broadcast over the Internet and on cell phones. SAG says it will urge its members to vote for a strike. According to CNN, AMPTP has accused SAG of stubbornness inappropriate to a time of economic crisis. SAG says that it simply hopes the threat of a strike, which would shut down the entertainment industry for a second time within a year, will bolster the group’s bargaining strength.

The Sunday Mail initially reported that George Clooney and Jack Nicholson support a strike, and SAG had hoped that several other big Hollywood names would join them. However, it seems that as the possibility of a strike gets closer to reality, many A-listers have changed their tune.

SAG’s contract with the AMPTP expired June 30, as the two organizations tried and failed to negotiate a new deal. During the month of June, the entire industry appeared to be in a stalemate; agents even stopped booking movies for their clients. Some TV shows rushed to finish production before a strike could take place. Ultimately, although no agreement was reached, business continued and actors simply worked without a contract.

Related Topic: Domino effect of striking

The writers’ strike in early 2008 had wider negative ramifications for the industry. Crew workers who had been unemployed during the strike were still unable to find employment after work resumed, due to the shortened production schedules. After the strike, television production was down 45 percent.

The strike also lessened viewer enthusiasm for television. Shows returned when the strike resolved, but TV viewers in April and May 2008 decreased by nine percent. The low ratings threatened to seriously hurt networks as they were in the process of securing advertisers; NBC chief researcher Alan Wurtzel warned that it was impossible to assume that viewers would continue old patterns of TV watching.
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