Actors union to seek strike authorization

Sat Nov 22, 2008 6:16pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The main union representing U.S. film and television actors said on Saturday it would seek a strike authorization vote by members after federal mediation failed to break a logjam in labor talks with major Hollywood studios.

The Screen Actors Guild, which represents 120,000 performers across the United States, said in a statement on Saturday that no timeline had been set for a vote, which would give SAG leaders the go-ahead to call for a work stoppage and provide leverage in negotiations.

"Management continues to insist on terms we cannot responsibly accept on behalf of our members," SAG said in its statement. "We will now launch a full-scale education campaign in support of a strike authorization referendum."

Two major sticking points center on exactly which Internet film and TV projects would be covered by SAG contracts and how much actors should be paid for content delivered over the Web.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major studios, responded with a terse statement noting it reached labor agreements this year on similar issues with guilds for directors, writers and a separate performers' union.

"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 AMPTP statement said.

Doug Allen, SAG's national executive director and chief negotiator, characterized the AMPTP as being "stubborn."

"Members need to send a powerful message to management that they are frustrated management isn't listening to them,' he told Reuters.   Continued...

<p>Tourists pause on a walkway at a shopping mall which offers a view of the famed Hollywood sign at the hills in California March 14, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>