December 23, 2008 at 09:03 PM EST

Fierce opposition from hundreds of high-profile celebrities has prompted the SAG brass to postpone a controversial strike authorization vote in January. Voting was originally set to begin on Jan. 2nd, but now it won’t begin until Jan. 14th. Executive Director Doug Allen—together with SAG President Alan Rosenberg—hopes to use the delay to further educate the membership about the negotiations and to unify the now divided organization.

“While almost 100 high profile members and 2,524 total members have endorsed the strike authorization vote mandated by the National Board, more than 100 high profile actors and 1,373 actors have lent their names to the opposition campaign,” said Allen in a statement posted on the SAG website late Monday. “This division does not help our effort to get an agreement from the AMPTP that our members will ratify.”

Allen and Rosenberg scheduled a special National Board meeting on Jan. 12 to address the divide. In the last few weeks, two factions have emerged in favor and against next month’s strike vote, with A-listers like George Clooney signing a Vote No petition while celebs like Mel Gibson signed another one urging a yes vote. Seventy-five percent of “dues current” members must authorize a strike before the National Board can actually call for one.

SAG has been working without a contract since June. The massive actors’ union and the conglomerates remain far apart over issues involving production for new media, including TV webisodes.

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