The Strike That SAG Forgot

February 17, 2009 by  

johnmc1The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) will be meeting on Wednesday February 18th for the first time this year in an attempt to button up a deal on the feature-primetime contract. The meeting was first scheduled for two weeks ago but was suspended when, in a series of events worthy of it’s own ‘Movie of the Week’, the president of SAG, Alan Rosenberg took to the courts in an attempt to prevent Doug Allen, the erstwhile negotiator who had been pushing for a very unpopular strike, from being fired along with the totality of the negotiating committee. After successfully firing Mr. Allen the moderate wing of SAG which currently occupies 70% of the seats of the negotiating committee named a new chief negotiator, SAG’s senior advisor, John McGuire.

Baring another political earthquake Mr. McGuire and NED David White will be meeting Nick Counter and the rest of the AMPTP team to iron out the final details of a deal that they hope to present to the SAG national board this Saturday. If approved by the committee, the ballots to ratify the deal may be sent out next week with the final count being done 3-4 weeks later. The ongoing contention surrounds internet programming and sales of DVD.

However, Mr. Rosenberg has not given up, trying unsuccessfully for the third time to get the courts to intervene in Doug Allen’s firing last Friday. Rosenberg has pulled out all the stops in his attempt to support Allen including filibustering for 28 hours to prevent a vote to oust Allen earlier this year. It remains to be seen whether he will proceed with the lawsuit after a deal has been met and unclear what if any effect even a judgment favorable to Mr. Rosenberg would have as time travel is still only possible sci-fi/fantasy productions. Once the deal is voted on by the general membership it is unlikely to be overturned by any court. Further, the potential strike that’s been threatened by Allen for four months or more was unlikely to be affirmed by the members as lower paid ‘below the liners’ strongly oppose the strike. The majority of the SAG members are still financially reeling from last years months long Writers strike but the stress has split the union into two groups the ‘Let’s Get Back to Work’ faction and the Membership First faction both of whom, in a penultimate act worthy of Irwen Allen, are expected to demonstrate at the meetings this week.

No matter the outcome of these meetings nor of the pending lawsuit it is unlikely to affect the next season of True Blood as shooting commenced over a month ago and any attempt to secure a strike would take at least a month from it’s initiation. Even if there is no agreement between SAG and AMPTP with the current negotiators it’s unlikely that a strike vote will be called. Therefore any disruption would have to await the unlikely resolution of the lawsuit which will not be fast-tracked when True Blood, and most other television shows, are already in the can. With the effectiveness of a strike waning daily, the obvious lack of support for the strike by the general membership (it would require a 75% threshold be met before a strike could happen) and ongoing disruption to the union this writer wonders what motivates the current SAG president.

In the meantime I’m eagerly awaiting the mini-series.


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