Hollywood actors unions at war with each other

Mon Jun 9, 2008 12:14am EDT
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By Leslie Simmons

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The bad blood between Hollywood's leading actors unions is boiling.

As the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) enters its 25th day of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), the union will hold a rally Monday morning at its Los Angeles headquarters for members.

While SAG bills the event as a "solidarity" rally, some members are expected to use the gathering to speak out against the new primetime/TV contract that its sister union the American Federation of Telvision and Radio Artists (AFTRA) will be sending to members for ratification.

In the meantime, AFTRA president Roberta Reardon plans to meet with AFL-CIO leader John Sweeney to discuss the clash between the two actor unions, which intensified Friday when SAG's national executive board voted 13-10 to spend $75,000 on educating members about the AFTRA deal.

In an e-mail to members Sunday, SAG president Alan Rosenberg outlined what he called contract gains that AFTRA did not get, and said that he and the union's negotiators are trying to win for SAG members. Among them were improvements in money and schedule breaks and a significant increase in the major role minimum; more background coverage and compensation; guild coverage and residuals for all original new media; the right to consent to product integration; improving DVD residuals; and an increase in mileage compensation for the first time in 30 years.

Rosenberg also told members that SAG believes the tentative AFTRA deal and its ratification -- which is expected to be voted on by July 7 -- is a distraction that the AMPTP is using "to delay significant progress in our negotiations."

On Thursday, SAG sent AFTRA a letter asking that its national board vote to delay a ratification vote on the tentative contract.

"Delaying ratification of the AFTRA contract could benefit all actors," Rosenberg wrote to members Sunday. "AFTRA members too would benefit by increased leverage in our negotiations and through any favored nation clauses SAG might be able to achieve that would provide improvements in the AFTRA deal."   Continued...

<p>The Hollywood sign is seen on a hazy afternoon in Los Angeles, California, November 4, 2007. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>