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George Clooney, Tom Hanks among actors petitioning against strike authorization

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Since there is zero movement at the negotiating table, several high-profile actors like George Clooney and Tom Hanks have taken their dissatisfaction with the process public by signing a petition that opposes the upcoming strike authorization vote. The list of some 100-plus stars calls for the Screen Actors Guild to scuttle a vote in January that, if successful, would be used as a negotiating tool with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The brass at SAG, which has been working without a contract since June, remains unsatisfied with their lack of gains in new media and DVD residuals and hopes the threat of another strike will force the conglomerates to sweeten the proposed deal.

The stars think otherwise, however, which prompted them to sign the petition. “We support our union and we support the issues we’re fighting for, but we do not believe in all good conscience that now is the time to be putting people out of work,” it is stated in the letter, which was also signed by Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Carell, along with 100 or so other high-profile celebs. The stars go on to urge SAG’s negotiating committee to put off the fight for three years, when they can possibly team with the other Hollywood unions to fight for a better deal.

SAG is the only Hollywood union left that has not inked a new contract with the conglomerates. The union believes it forfeit millions of dollars with agreements it made when home video was just a fledgling business, and it is hellbent not to make the same mistake again with Internet streaming.

A smaller contingent of actors, including Mel Gibson and Martin Sheen, signed a petition of their own earlier this month in an attempt to show solidarity to their union and the strike authorization vote. SAG’s plan is to collect votes from Jan. 2 to Jan. 23; seventy-five percent of the paid-up membership must approve it to be successful. The SAG brass has insisted that a strike authorization vote would not necessarily lead to a strike.   

In the meantime, SAG continues to hold public meetings with members to update them on the negotiations and their demands for the new contract. After a reportedly contentious session yesterday in New York, SAG President Alan Rosenberg and the negotiating committee members will reconvene a town hall meeting in Los Angeles on Dec. 17.