I received an e-mail from SAG today announcing that attempts at mediation regarding the labor contract impasse between the actors' union and the studios have failed. SAG has decided to seek a strike authorization from its members. This does not mean there WILL be a strike, but it means that the SAG negotiating committee will at least have a little bit of leverage in negotiations. (Who are we kidding though? These talks are not, nor have they ever been, a negotiation. The AMPTP has laid down some not-so-great terms, especially regarding New Media, and will not budge.)
Excerpts from the e-mail:
Management continues to insist on terms we cannot responsibly accept on behalf of our members. As previously authorized by the National Board of Directors, we will now launch a full-scale education campaign in support of a strike authorization referendum. We will further inform SAG members about the core, critical issues unique to actors that remain in dispute.
We have already made difficult decisions and sacrifices in an attempt to reach agreement. Now it's time for SAG members to stand united and empower the national negotiating committee to bargain with the strength of a possible work stoppage behind them.
We remain committed to avoiding a strike but now more than ever we cannot allow our employers to experiment with our careers. The WGA has already learned that the new media terms they agreed to with the AMPTP are not being honored. We cannot allow our employers to undermine the futures of SAG members and their families.
SAG needs 75% of its members to vote yes in order to pass the strike authorization. I think that the vote will fall short of that, which is too bad, because I fear that the things the union will be forced to give up if they take the current deal will be things that we will never be able to get back. If the AMPTP won't negotiate now, why would they be willing to give things up down the road? When all media is "new media" (internet, etc.) in a few years, why would they be willing to give back anything they have? (by the way, as mentioned above according to the Writers Guild, the AMPTP has already failed to comply with terms of the new deal they signed last spring - nice precedent)
All of the creative types (writers, directors, producers, ALL actors) need to get on the same page so that we can have a unified front in dealing with these mega media giants next time. Unfortunately, it's too late for that this time anyway, and even up against a strike authorization from SAG, I doubt the big studios will budge. They are rich. They can afford not to.
As usual, Nikki Finke has some great information about the labor dispute on her Deadline Hollywood Daily.
I guess it seems too much to ask for both sides to actually negotiate in good faith... I don't want a strike. Nobody does. But, if SAG doesn't get this authorization, I'm afraid it is a slippery slope down...