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October 31, 2014

SAG members are talking about a strike

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 23rd 2008 11:03AM
SAGHow's this for happy holiday cheer? The Screen Actors Guild is gearing up to ask members to authorize a strike. Yes, that's right. The actors' union leadership -- headed up by Alan Rosenberg -- is talking tough and threatening another strike. It's been nearly a year since the Writer's Guild strike and the ramifications are still being felt throughout the TV business. An actors strike would be crippling.

Currently, SAG is working under a contract that expired on June 30. The WGA strike began on November 5, 2007 and was finally settled on February 12, 2008. Rosenberg and SAG knew how damaging the strike had been, and in the months before June 30, they tried for a settlement. They didn't get it done then, and they've been treading water ever since.

The bottom line is that the producers -- the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers -- want the actors to take the same terms as the writers. The fight is over compensation for work that's reused or made for the Internet.

I don't pretend to be an expert on what's fair or right when it comes to actor's compensation. I believe it when Rosenberg and company explain that most members are not big stars and they're representing the rank and file actors, the ones who need a fair shake. However, it seems that the producers are not going to yield to the threat of a strike, and an actual work stoppage would be devastating to the TV and film business.

Considering today's horrific economic climate, an actors strike would be disastrous PR. There's no way the public would understand, let alone sympathize, with actors walking out on TV productions. The series would stop shooting and we could wind up having a replay of last year's endless delay.

Fortunately, I don't think the actors really want to strike, and before anyone starts holding up signs and walking a picket line, 75% of the SAG membership would have to vote to authorize the strike. With the memory of what happened last year still fresh in everyone's minds, that's not likely to happen.

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DavidMac

I hope the actors strike and the tv and movie business take another hit. These unions need to be taught a lesson.

November 24 2008 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KenMo

Yes yes, they have the right to strike. But many (most I would imagine) are not in the Union by choice. You are FORCED to join the union(s) if you want to work as an actor.
So who has the power in this union. Not the people working for a "pittance". A strike is not going to help them regardless of how it is resolved. The best thing for the little people in the Union is to keep them working, not standing by the side of the road with signs that read "Will pretend for food".

November 24 2008 at 3:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
PORSCHE

If they strike for a couple months will some buble shows be saved again?

There is still hope for pushing daiseys and dirty sexxy money...and eli stone. The bad is it shortens smallviles last season...unless it forces them to renew it.. and less lost.

Someone please tell me all 24hrs of 24 are shot?

November 23 2008 at 11:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael Russnow

You ought to look at the following short video produced in Cologne, Germany by TV Star Andreas Stenschke. It points to what is at stake for writers, actors and directors regarding the potential loss of income when reruns of TV shows and movies go to the Internet rather than on cable and broadcast TV, where they currently show. It is particularly relevant as the Writers Guild is now in a battle with the AMPTP over their reneging of the Internet residual formula agreed to at the end of the strike in February. Link to the video is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PPZV3dTzbg

The Europeans' (and other international artists) situation is absurd and the AMPTP producers and networks would like nothing more than to remake that as their modus operandi on our shores as well.

November 23 2008 at 10:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy

Seriously?! Terrorist organization? Are you actually equating people who fight for workers' rights to a fair wage to those who seek to destroy our country? How sad for all us that you even wrote that.

November 23 2008 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Jimmy's comment
Karen

Well I personally believe that unions do help destroy our country.

BUT, the actions of striking workers most certainly destroy businesses (look at the mess car makers are in right now), and holding your employer hostage is a terrorist type tactic.

Negotiate all you want, but shutting down a business is hostile and the tactic is deplorable!

November 24 2008 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy

Strikes are never the first option chosen by unions, at least no union I've ever heard of (although I never been part of a union). Sometimes it's the only choice you have.

The US auto makers are not in the mess they are in because unions demanded that workers be paid a fair wage and receive benefits. The US auto makers are in this mess because they refused to embrace hybrid technology and now foreign auto makers are the leaders in that area. The US auto makers are in this mess because they refused to embrace higher gas mileage, so once again foreign auto makers took the lead in that arena, as well.

Blaming the unions is blaming the hard working men and women who actually keep these companies going and make sure we have cars to drive. The real blame here should be laid squarely on the shoulders of the CEOs. CEOs who make with six-figures salaries and mega-bonuses and fligh around in private jets.

History has chose us that unions have rarely ever been the root cause of a businesses failure. That is just a lie spread by companies who want to keep them away from their employees. Unions have been at the forefront of the fight for fair wages and benefits, fair hours, and equality. The UAW has made several concessions over the years to keep the US auto makers going while upper level management pay and bonuses had continued to increase.

Don't blame the workers for wanting to be treated fair. Blame the bad management.

November 25 2008 at 10:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen

Nope. NO support for the actors. Why can't they accept the same deal the writers did?

And besides, I'm for a free market. You are worth what someone is willing to pay you. You negotiate your contract individually. Holding your employer hostage through the threat of a strike is a terrorist type tactic and when used I always hope they fail.

The actors don't take the final risk, make the initial investments, etc. They show up for work and get paid. And if the majority of them may a paltry salary, then they are welcome to skill themselves in something that pays better. You are not entitled to a certain wage. You are worth what you can get.

Unions are terrorist organizations in my book and nobody should give in to them, no matter the costs. As they lose effectiveness they would go away.

I'm all for paying people what the market allows whether that is minimum wage or $600k a week.

November 23 2008 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Karen's comment
What, what, what?

Have a great weekend, Karen (brought to you by the labor movement).

November 23 2008 at 6:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian

In this economy, we need entertainment. So let them be phony and give them (the actors) what they want. Producers are greedy scumbags.

November 23 2008 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
moe

just sign the contract like aftra and every other union did. If sag strikes a lot of shows will become aftra shows due to most shows being shot in HD using tapes. This actually give aftra the power to take theses show. i know Dick Wolf will switch right away. Also, all these people who are pro strike and are aftra members will go right and work on a aftra job while the strike is on

November 23 2008 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

I don't know. Nobody wants another strike, (least of all the actors, which were hurt by the writer's strike almost as much as the unpaid writers were), but the producers are being unreasonable, like always. They need to understand that the actors (and writers) are the one's mainly responsible for their success, and they should get a huge chunk of the income. Certainly more than the couple of percent that they get now.

November 23 2008 at 12:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sandra

I have less than less 0 per cent sympathy for these guys.

With the global economy on the brink of a depression, actors like CSI's William Petersen who make $600,000 per episode (and that was before his signed his exit contract) the SAG members have no right to complain about money or any other issue.

Just sign the contract SAG and shut up! You're lucky to have jobs.

November 23 2008 at 11:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Sandra's comment
Joey Geraci

You do understand that the vast majority of actors are not making six figure salaries? The vast majority are either extras, or actors getting small roles on TV shows (or even main actors on smaller shows that make much smaller salaries than Petersen)

The vast majority of actors have every right to complain about the pittance that they make (compared to the profit that the studios bring in from the profit of their work). It is incredibly sad that the producers have to be threatened with a potential or real strike to get them to make reasonable compromises.

November 23 2008 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy

Just because people are lucky to have jobs doesn't mean they shouldn't fight for their fair share. The average salary of a SAG member is less than $38,000/year and I don't know about you, but that doesn't seem like a extreme salary to me. Considering $38,000 is chump change in California it means even less.

There is fault on both sides. Both the SAG negotiators and the AMPTP has bungled this negotiation. The AMPTP would love nothing better than to break SAG's back and force a crappy contract on them. Considering the AMPTP companies are already reneging on their contract with the writers who can blame SAG for not wanting to take the same deal?

All that being said, I think a strike will be a tough sell and the AMPTP is hoping that it will be. If the negotiating committee cannot get 75% support it will be disaster for the union and they'll be lucky to even get the writers' deal.

And before I get some snarky comment about how I must be some anonymous SAG supporter I'm just an old accountant living in the Midwest who reads the news. Saying this is only about high paid stars is understanding the real issues involved.

November 23 2008 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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