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Nice Try, SAG

Strikewatch_blog

By now, astute Strike Watchers have probably ambled over to Nikki Finke’s blog to take a gander at Alan Rosenberg and Doug Allen’s latest letter to SAG board members, AMPTP president Nick Counter, New Corp’s Peter Chernin, Disney’s Bob Iger, and lord knows who else. I’ve posted it at the end of this delightful blog post. A SAG rep confirmed via email that the letter on Finke’s site “appears to be a copy of what was sent” and that there is “no further comment. The letter speaks for itself.”

If so, I’m confused. The Allens say, “We believe it is clear that our members would fail to ratify your proposal of June 30, 2008. It would serve no productive purpose, therefore, to send our membership a proposal that SAG’s national negotiating committee and national board have rejected and that our membership would not ratify.”

Where is this certainty coming from, pray tell? The Allens don’t say in the letter, which leads me to assume they’re referring to the controversially bar-coded poll that came back 87 percent positive that the guild’s fearless leaders should continue sticking to their guns. Of course, only 10 percent of those who got those bar-coded cards returned them at all. Actually, that’s probably not true, according to a board member—who shall remain nameless—who quipped to me that SAG and/or Integrity Systems probably didn’t count the cards that were sent crumpled into unreadable balls or with scrawled messages like, “Shut up and sign the effing deal!” [Okay, maybe they didn't write "effing," but you get the idea.]

Even if SAG is basing its certainty on that poll, what about the fact that 25 percent of the membership voted in an election that resulted in new board members who oppose the Allens’ stubborn stance taking majority? Last time I checked—though I’m no math genius—25 percent was higher than 10 percent.

I doubt this “news”—as the Allens refer to it—will inspire the AMPTP to call off its “intransigence” and come back to the table. The producers have already renounced the poll and insisted SAG send the contract to members for a real ratification vote.

Aye, that’s the real question here. If the Allens are certain that SAG members would reject the contract, why don’t they prove it by—oh, I don’t know—asking members to vote on the contract? In my humble opinion, it’s just the opposite. Somewhere way back in the Allens’ collective consciousness, they are certain the members would approve this pact—especially the 44,000 dual cardholders who have already ratified it for AFTRA. Why pussyfoot around with and spend over $100,000 on an obvious push poll rather than send out a good, old-fashioned ratification vote? I posed this question to the aforementioned SAG rep but got no comment.

20071224ho_christmasstory_500 What do you say, Alan and Doug? When will you give your members an official opportunity to vote on this proposal? Strike Watch double-dog dares you.

--Lauren Horwitch

PS:  Our favorite Santa Monica resident David Clennon posted a love letter to the Allens in the comments section of Finke’s blog—curiously, the only comment published. I don’t mean to pick on the guy, but he’s making it too easy. I’ll add “stop picking on Clennon” to my Infinite Jest–long list of sins to repent next week.

Here’s SAG's letter:

Dear Gentlemen:

We believe it is clear that our members would fail to ratify your proposal of June 30, 2008. It would serve no productive purpose, therefore, to send our membership a proposal that SAG’s National Negotiating Committee and National Board have rejected and that our membership would not ratify.

It is our fervent hope that this news will encourage you and your colleagues to reengage in formal bargaining, with the exchange of proposals and compromise by both sides necessary to reach an agreement.

Our discussions with you and many of your colleagues since formal talks ended have educated both of our teams about our respective priorities and flexibilities. As we have said to SAG members, if we can reach agreement on three threshold issues, we believe we can finish these negotiations. One issue you brought to the table: force majeure protection for actors held by contract to a suspended production. Two issues we have identified as core principles: coverage for all new media productions (including those below $15,000/minute) and residuals for made-for-new media productions re-used on new media. Other issues divide us, certainly, but we believe those other issues can be successfully addressed once we have resolved these three threshold issues. We have approached these contract negotiations reasonably and with a realistic and informed view of the state of the industry.

We are prepared to meet formally and continuously until we reach agreement. We owe it to our constituencies and the thousands of others in this industry that depend on a productive, stable and uninterrupted relationship between Screen Actors Guild and the networks and studios.

The alternative to reaching an agreement as soon as possible is unnecessary and destructive uncertainty. If your intransigence continues, however, our choices become harder and fewer. We would prefer the more complicated and productive choices that compromise will make necessary. But we can’t make those choices that lead to agreement working alone.

What do you say; when can our committees meet face-to-face?”
Sincerely,
Alan Rosenberg Doug Allen
National President National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator

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Comments

If SAG agrees to go with the AFTRA terms for New Media, it should be able to get some relief on the Force Majeure and Product Integration fronts. It would be better to have SAG members voting on -that- deal rather than the one that's currently on the table. The current deal has the AFTRA terms for New Media but no relief in the other areas.

VG

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