The Screen Actors Guild took another step toward a potential strike today by announcing its strike authorization schedule. Ballots will go out to paid up members on Friday, Jan. 2 and are due back for tabulation on Friday, Jan. 23. Seventy-five percent of the voting members must vote yes to approve a strike, which the 120,000-plus member union is expected to use as a negotiating ploy to seek further gains from the conglomerates. Should the union fail to achieve what they want in a new contract, SAG national board of directors must call for a strike before picketing can actually begin.
SAG has been working without a contract since June and is the last Hollywood union without a new deal. In a statement to members, SAG President Alan Rosenberg said, “SAG Members must understand that their futures as professional actors are at stake, and I believe that SAG members will evaluate the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ June 30 offer and vote to send us back to the table with the threat of a strike. A yes vote sends a strong message that we are serious about fending off rollbacks and getting what is fair for actors in new media.”
The authorization vote was delayed until after the holidays to give SAG a chance to educate members about the perceived benefits of a strike authorization. “Our objective remains to get a deal that SAG members will ratify,” added Doug Allen, SAG’s national exec director and chief negotiator, “not to go on strike.”
The AMPTP reacted with a statement of its own: “It’s now official: SAG members are going to be asked to bail out a failed negotiating strategy by going on strike during one of the worst economic crises in history. We hope that working actors will study our contract offer carefully and come to the conclusion that no strike can solve the problems that have been created by SAG’s own failed negotiation strategy.”
Timing of the vote should come as a huge relief to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which was surely wringing its hands over a possible repeat of last season’s disastrous Golden Globes (the previous ceremony occurred in the midst of the writers strike and was subsequently boycotted by actors). Since results of the authorization vote aren’t due until late January, the Globes should go on as scheduled Jan. 11. Brooke Shields, together with Elizabeth Banks, Terrence Howard, Rainn Wilson, and HFPA President Jorge Camara, will announce the nominations tomorrow morning.