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SAG president Alan Rosenberg: We shall overcome

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Despite increased rancor from east coast members, SAG president Alan Rosenberg remains resolute in his hope to secure a strike authorization vote in the new year. Rosenberg reportedly told reporters on Thursday that he still believes he can secure a 75 percent approval rate among paid-up members to walk the picket line, even though A-list stars like Tom Hanks and George Clooney have gone public with their opposition by circulating a Vote No petition. Some 100-plus celebs signed the petition, which came out last week after another group of stars like Mel Gibson and Sandra Oh created one of their own that supports the union and the vote. Ballots go out Jan. 2 and are due back Jan. 23.

Rosenberg held an educational meeting recently in New York and was met with vehement opposition from east coast actors like Alec Baldwin, who pounded the union for its poor timing, especially given the bad economy. A similar meeting was held this week in Los Angeles, where members were reportedly much more sympathetic and supportive of Rosenberg’s actions.

Industry observers believe that of the 106,000 paid up members of SAG, roughly 25,000 to 30,000 are likely to participate in the upcoming strike vote (those estimates are based on previous turnouts for board elections). That would mean only 18,000-plus “yes” votes would be needed to greenlight a picket line. Rosenberg has stated repeatedly that he’d use the vote as a negotiating tool and doesn’t want a repeat of the writers’ strike that crippled the industry earlier this year. 

SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers remain far apart over issues of new media. Among SAG’s demands: union coverage of any production that is made exclusively for the Internet and rights to residuals should those programs be repeated in the future. The union also wants to benefit financially from product placement, as well as the power to say no to, say, holding a can of Coke in a movie or TV series.

The union has been working without a contract since June. Production on films has largely come to a halt, though TV series remain in full swing.

More Hollywood labor:

George Clooney, Tom Hanks among actors petitioning against strike authorization

SAG moves one step closer to potential strike

SAG, AMPTP talks fail: Is an actors strike coming?

EW’s complete Hollywood labor coverage