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October 22, 2014

SAG members filibuster and nothing gets done ... just like Congress

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 14th 2009 4:30PM
SAG logoThe big SAG strike news hitting the trades and the rest of the entertainment press today is ... that there isn't any news. A strike vote ballot still hasn't been sent to the members. But, boy, what's gone into the non-news is a hell of a lot of effort. Reports are that the decision to delay the ballot came after an epic 30-hour meeting, eight of which was spent on debating whether to end the meeting at 10 pm on Monday or 1 am on Tuesday. Fat lot of good that did; the meeting didn't break up until 6 am.

Apparently, there are two factions within the union; a larger Hollywood-based one that wants a strike, and a smaller New-York-and-elsewhere based one that doesn't want the walkout. The debates were more a result of the disagreement within the union than purposeful delay tactics; heck, they even tried to remove their lead negotiator.

It looks like what's happening is that a small but significant number of SAG members realize that they can't win in this battle. Striking now, in a crashing economy and so soon after the writers' strike almost crippled the entertainment industry, would get the union nothing but extremely negative publicity. Considering they've been offered a similar deal to what the writers accepted last year, people will have little sympathy that the actors are asking for more, even if their reasons are justified. Add to that the fact that the other major actors' union, AFTRA, has accepted the AMPTP's deal and will make themselves available to fill some of the gaps a SAG strike would leave, and you've got the makings of a long and destructive strike for the folks at SAG.

As it is, it looks like the guild won't get their act together in time to affect the Oscars next month, which would have been a big bargaining chip for them. If I were to make a prediction, I'd say that a strike is never going to materialize. What do you folks think?

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