Page last updated at 10:13 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Actors' call to ditch strike vote

SAG rally in June 2008
A ballot for industrial action now seems unlikely

A group of Hollywood actors led by the Screen Actors Guild president has backed a plan to suspend a strike vote.

The group, led by Alan Rosenberg, also said in a statement that a final contract offer from movie studios should be sent to members for a vote.

SAG, which has 120,000 members, had postponed a strike vote in December after division among its members.

It has been objecting to plans to make one-off, not residual payments, to actors for made-for-internet shows.

SAG members have continued to work under the terms of a contract that expired in June 2008.

Final contract

The group led by Mr Rosenberg, known as Membership First, is made up of a number of SAG board members.

Their support means that more than half of the board's 71 members have publicly backed scrapping a vote, making the chances of a strike slim.

The Membership First statement follows a 30-hour meeting last week at which national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen went back on earlier calls for a strike vote.

He, instead, recommended sending the final three-year contract offer from studios to actors to vote on.

He also suggested that, before that, there should be a final round of talks with studios to see if they could improve their final offer.

Sacking motion

If a strike ballot did go ahead, the SAG board would be able to call a strike only if 75% of voting members approved the measure.

We support the compromise presented by Doug Allen to the national board to suspend the strike authorisation and to send the final offer out to the membership
Membership First

Membership First said in its statement that reaching that level of support "would be hard to achieve".

"We support the compromise presented by Doug Allen to the national board to suspend the strike authorisation and to send the final offer out to the membership."

At the meeting, a motion to fire Mr Allen was also fended off by Membership First members.

Waning support

In October, board members were united in calling for a strike vote if last-minute mediation with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) failed, which it subsequently did.

SAG's national board of directors has not suspended the strike authorisation referendum and the board's October 19 resolution is the last national board decision on this matter
SAG

But support has waned as the economic situation has worsened and a vote date has been delayed on a number of occasions.

While a strike vote now looks unlikely, SAG has not acted officially to suspend the strike ballot.

"SAG's national board of directors has not suspended the strike authorisation referendum and the board's October 19 resolution is the last national board decision on this matter," it said in a statement.

The AMPTP did not wish to comment.

If SAG members were asked to vote on the studios' final offer, a simple majority of more than 50% of voting members would mean the contract would be accepted.

When a strike vote seemed likely last year, there were fears industrial action could ruin the Academy Awards, due to take place in Los Angeles on 22 February, with actors unlikely to cross any picket lines.

Last year's Golden Globes ceremony was called off and replaced with a press conference because of the three-month Hollywood writers' strike, which ended in February 2008.

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SEE ALSO
US actors' strike vote is delayed
23 Dec 08 |  Entertainment
US actors union to ballot members
11 Dec 08 |  Entertainment
Strike vote for Hollywood actors
24 Nov 08 |  Entertainment
Hollywood talks over actors row
21 Nov 08 |  Entertainment
Hollywood actors urged to strike
02 Oct 08 |  Entertainment

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