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SAG president Alan Rosenberg at solidarity rally: 'I'm really optimistic'

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On Saturday, Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg asked the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to delay the ratification of its tentative primetime TV contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. AFTRA declined, upsetting SAG. So this morning, SAG rallied actors together at its Los Angeles headquarters in “solidarity.” The goal? To persuade enough of the 44,000 people who are members of both unions to vote against the AFTRA deal, thus forcing AFTRA to renegotiate its agreement with producers. Several hundred actors showed up for the event, many passionately pumping their fists in the air, chanting “AFTRA sucks” and “Vote No”; their instructions were to shout loud enough for AFTRA to hear them on the 9th floor. (SAG’s New York board was absent, however, reportedly in opposition to the anti-AFTRA message.)

EW.com caught up with Rosenberg after the rally to discuss his expectations. He said that if dual-union members don’t vote down the contract, he’s hoping “they’ll

put a severe dent in that ratification process. And failing that, I’m

hoping for the best deal we possibly can.” Indeed, that’s the ideal scenario: a deal. But if SAG

doesn’t hear what it wants at the negotiating table, that union can still

play its strike card — pending a strike authorization

vote by its members. “We haven’t asked for

strike authorization yet,” Rosenberg told us. “Nothing says that we can’t work past the

expiration date on our contract under the old terms while we’re

negotiating and while we’re working on that strike authorization. We’ll

have to do it in the next week or two. At that time, I’ll tell the

members that doesn’t mean we’re going on strike, but what we need is

that tool in our pocket to achieve the best deal we can. Right now, my

focus is on continuing these negotiations. I’m really optimistic.”

One sign that SAG is fighting an uphill battle: a notable lack of A-listers at today’s rally. While we have a special place in our

heart for Ed Asner, Marg Helgenberger (who is Rosenberg’s wife), Justine

Bateman, The Office‘s Kate Flannery, and Sex and the City‘s Willie

Garson, there wasn’t a Hanks or a Clooney or a Streep or a Fey in

sight. Admitted Flannery, “What the [producers] offered AFTRA is not

going to work for SAG, and we need something to work for all of us. That’s why I’m here to lend my little voice to this big effort. And I

just hope that higher-profile actors decide to step up to the plate,

because their voices are a lot louder than mine.”

In

Saturday’s statements, AFTRA warned SAG that the union should “be aware

that we would view any attempt by SAG or its leadership to undermine or

interfere with our ratification process as a violation of both the law

and the AFL-CIO Constitution.” Ballots will be sent out to AFTRA

members in the next week or so, and they are due back in three weeks,

after the SAG’s contract expires on June 30.

One sign that SAG is fighting an uphill battle: a notable lack of A-listers at today’s rally. While we have a special place in ourheart for Ed Asner, Marg Helgenberger (who is Rosenberg’s wife), JustineBateman, The Office‘s Kate Flannery, and Sex and the City‘s WillieGarson, there wasn’t a Hanks or a Clooney or a Streep or a Fey insight. Admitted Flannery, “What the [producers] offered AFTRA is notgoing to work for SAG, and we need something to work for all of us. That’s why I’m here to lend my little voice to this big effort. And Ijust hope that higher-profile actors decide to step up to the plate,because their voices are a lot louder than mine.”

InSaturday’s statements, AFTRA warned SAG that the union should “be awarethat we would view any attempt by SAG or its leadership to undermine orinterfere with our ratification process as a violation of both the lawand the AFL-CIO Constitution.” Ballots will be sent out to AFTRAmembers in the next week or so, and they are due back in three weeks,after the SAG’s contract expires on June 30.

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