Hollywood actors will vote on strike

Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:00am EST
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By Leslie Simmons

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The cloud of labor unrest hanging over Hollywood and the upcoming awards season has grown considerably darker.

Although no date has been set, the leaders of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) have begun preparations for a strike-authorization vote after two days of meetings with the studios failed to break the 5-month-old deadlock on a new TV/theatrical contract.

The talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), brokered by federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez, ended shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday.

"We will now launch a full-scale education campaign in support of a strike-authorization referendum," SAG said. "We will further inform our members about the core, critical issues unique to actors that remain in dispute."

In response to SAG's decision to seek strike authorization, the AMPTP said, "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 studios' bargaining arm sent a blistering message to its 300 members, placing the blame on SAG and indicating that it would do everything it could to educate SAG members and the industry about its offer to the actors union and why SAG should accept it.

"The more SAG members understand about the fairness and strength of our offer, especially during a time of historic economic distress, the less likely they will be to authorize a strike," the message stated.

In October, SAG's national board called in Gonzalez in hopes restarting negotiations after a then-four-month stalemate. At the same time, the board also voted to give its negotiating committee the go-ahead to call for a strike-authorization vote if the mediation failed. SAG requires 75% of its voting members to approve the measure in order to go forward with a strike.   Continued...

<p>A general view shows the Screen Actors Guild National Headquarters in Los Angeles July 9, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>