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SAG Strike Authorization Ballots Delayed
The Screen Actors Guild has delayed sending out the strike authorization ballots until January 14 at the earliest, representing an approximately two-week delay from the originally scheduled mailing date of January 2.
This development was revealed less than two hours ago in an email from SAG National Executive Director Doug Allen to all SAG members, which also stated that an in-person SAG National Board meeting is now set for January 12-13 (all day the 12th and part of the day the 13th). Re the ballots, the letter said that they would go out “immediately following this special board meeting,” which would appear to mean January 14th at the earliest.
As reason for the move, the missive cited concerns by unnamed board members (presumably part of the hardline Membership First faction) over opposition that has resulted from over 100 high-profile actors (actually, over 130) and almost 1400 members. I’d guess that the opposition letters from the NY and Chicago boards had an effect as well, and that the Hollywood moderate Unite for Strength faction had an effect also (they met with Allen earlier in the day, per the LA Times).
The 12th and 13th are weekdays, and this fact may make it hard for some NY and regional members to attend, and even some of the working UFS members may not be available. Although they’d probably send alternates, this dilution may increase the ability of MF to control the agenda.
The letter also stated that the delay would give SAG extra time to conduct more member education and outreach aimed at increasing support for the strike authorization. One form this will take was disclosed to me by Doug Allen last week: SAG plans to conduct town hall meetings at regional branches around the country.
Allen’s email was preceded several hours by an email from SAG President Alan Rosenberg by a letter asking members to support the strike authorization, hoping for a “fair contract and labor peace,” and wishing members happy holidays.
The LA Times beat me on this one by about a half hour.
Here are the emails, Doug Allen’s and the Alan Rosenberg’s:
Dear Screen Actors Guild Member,
A number of National Board members have expressed concern about the organized opposition to SAG's vote "yes" campaign to encourage members to authorize the National Board to determine whether to call a strike in the TV/Theatrical contracts. While almost 100 high profile members and 2524 total members have endorsed the strike authorization vote mandated by the National Board, more than 100 high profile actors and 1373 actors have lent their names to the opposition campaign. This division does not help our effort to get an agreement from the AMPTP that our members will ratify.
Accordingly, President Rosenberg and I have decided to call a special face-to-face National Board meeting in Los Angeles, during the week of January 12, to discuss how we can address this unfortunate division and restore the consensus demonstrated by the National Board at our October meeting.
The Christmas and New Year's holidays, and the Commercials Contract W&W plenary in New York the first week of January, preclude scheduling such a meeting before the week of January 12. In accordance with our Constitution, this special meeting will constitute one of our two face-to-face plenary meetings for 2009.
In light of the subject matter of this special meeting, the strike authorization balloting will be re-scheduled to take place over a three-week period immediately following this special board meeting. This will provide us with more time to conduct member education and outreach on the referendum before the balloting.
This meeting will replace the January 24, 2009 plenary and will occur in Los Angeles all day January 12, and part of January 13.
National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator
Dear Screen Actors Guild Member,
As 2008 winds down I am hopeful that 2009 will bring us a fair contract and labor peace. I truly believe that if we move forward in unity with the collective strength of 122,000 professional actors behind us, we will achieve our goals. I implore you to learn as much as you can about the issues at stake, and stand with us and grant the board a strike authorization.
Actors have experienced the strife that this economic turmoil has brought, as have all Americans. Our hearts go out to our union brothers and sisters who have lost heir jobs, and to the thousands of United Auto Workers facing uncertain futures. But unionism is alive and well in this country as union workers rely even more on their unions for protection and advocacy.
Stop for a minute and think back to the day you got your SAG card. If you're like most of us, it was a moment of pride and accomplishment. That membership card in your wallet means you are a professional and you are entitled to union wages and working conditions. I am determined to see that your pride in your union continues and that your SAG card continues to shine.
You can rely on your Guild. Screen Actors Guild is strong, financially sound and ready to take on whatever the future brings. Your staff and elected members are working around the clock to provide leadership and to advocate and negotiate on your behalf. Residual checks are getting to you faster than ever, our website has been enhanced to meet your growing needs, and our professional staff is pursuing and collecting claims on our behalf around the country, every day.
While your leadership is not always in agreement, we must all pledge to keep our disagreements inside the boardroom and not air our differences in the press. We must all represent you with integrity and a commitment to stand together as we take on the huge global media corporations that want to break our union. We must stay true to our solidarity votes in the boardroom and true to our responsibility to better the lives of all SAG members and their families. Make no mistake, a house divided is doomed to fall.
We have a diverse membership spread throughout the United States. Each with common needs, as well unique career and geographical concerns. I am proud to represent each one of you and I wish you and your families a happy and healthy holiday.
Also, make sure you take a moment to read the new post at SAG Talk "A Message from Eric Bogosian" available by clicking here http://www.sag.org/sag-talk and watch new videos with Alicia Witt, Hal Holbrook and Martin Sheen at www.sag.org and SAG TV.
More than 2,500 working actors have signed on to the SAG solidarity campaign at www.sag.org If you haven't yet signed the Guild's solidarity statement in support of a fair contract and a "yes" vote on the strike authorization, do so now at http://www.sag.org/solidarity-signup-sheet
Also, join our Facebook group Empower SAG -- Vote Yes at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=1352299994&v=info&viewas=1352299994
Please visit www.sag.org for up to the minute information and email Contract2008@sag.org (this is an email address and not a live web link) with your comments and questions.
Your support is crucial to our success in this effort.