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Rosenberg, Johnson Halt Negotiations With Legal Threat

Strikewatch_blog Like a horror movie with one false ending after another, the SAG story continues to twist and turn but refuses to bend toward resolution. 

National president Alan Rosenberg and 1st vp Anne-Marie Johnson notified the guild that they were seeking legal action against the recent firing of national executive director Doug Allen, industry sources said, effectively halting the resumption of talks for a new TV/film contract between the guild and Hollywood producers that were to have begun tomorrow and Wednesday. The action further escalates a brutal internecine battle within the union, one that has seen a 28-hour national board meeting and the replacement of its negotiating team by written decree.

At the national board meeting Jan. 12-13, Rosenberg reportedly threatened a "civil war." His metaphor may have been understating things, because it now looks like labor's equivalent of a holy war.

The news of some type of action was first broken by Sharon Waxman of TheWrap.com.

SAG spokeswoman Pamela Greenwalt issued a news release saying that the guild had received "notice of intent to file a complaint." In light of this circumstance," she stated, "both parties have agreed to a postponement of their meeting and will reschedule at a later date."

A spokesman for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers indicated the scheduled talks would be postponed for at least a week. "Screen Actors Guild has advised us that it has a court proceeding that will conflict with our meeting this week," a statement read, "and for that reason both parties felt it made sense to reschedule."

The legal maneuver, a source said, seeks to reinstate Allen, who was replaced by two men, David White and John T. McGuire. White is serving as interim NED and McGuire, a longtime SAG official, is cheif negotiator. Allen had both titles before he was fired. Board moderates attempted to remove Allen and replace the negotiating committee at the marathon board meeting, but Rosenberg and his Membership First allies effectively staged a filibuster. Two weeks later, board moderates fired Allen and dissolved the negotiating committee by written assent. The legality of that maneuver probably rests at the heart of Rosenberg and Johnson's move.

Actors and producers have been operating under an expired contract since midsummer. There have been a few attempts to negotiate further since then, including a few days of federal mediation, but the guild's infighting has stymied any attempts at resolution.

--Andrew Salomon

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