SAG May Seek Strike Authorization


Hollywood could be moving toward a second strike within a year.

Federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez, after some 27 hours of negotiations that ended Saturday morning, dropped further attempts to bring the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers together. It was the first time the parties had met face-to-face in some four months. SAG’s contract expired on June 30.

Following the break-off, the actors union issued a statement, threatening a strike vote: “As previously authorized by the National Board of Directors, we will now launch a full-scale education campaign in support of a strike authorization referendum,” SAG said in a statement. “We will further inform our members about the core, critical issues unique to actors that remain in dispute.”

AMPTP countered with an acerbic comment: "Now, SAG is bizarrely asking its members to bail out the failed negotiating strategy with a strike vote - at a time of historic economic crisis. The tone deafness of SAG is stunning."

The Writers Guild of America went on strike on Nov. 5, 2007, a work stoppage that interrupted both Tinseltown television and film production. A new contract agreement was reached and then ratified in February. Subsequently, the Directors Guild of America and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, whose members have some overlap with SAG, approved new AMPTP pacts in February and May, respectively.

On Nov. 20, AMPTP reached an accord with the crafts union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts

Even if SAG were to issue a strike vote, that doesn’t mean a work stoppage would necessarily occur. Three-quarters of SAG’s 120,000 union members would have to authorize a strike, and many figure to be reluctant given the earlier three-month stoppage.

However, the threat of a strike action could provide impetus and perhaps leverage for future bargaining sessions.