Monday, December 15, 2008

Stars Send Anti-Strike Letter to SAG

We at want y'all in the New Mexico Film Industry to stay informed about the latest happenings with SAG. Article by Dave McNarry, Variety Magazine.

Stars send anti-strike letter to SAG

by Dave McNarry

Over 130 stars have come against the SAG strike authorization, including George Clooney, Matt Damon and Tom Hanks.

The list also includes Alan Alda, Jason Alexander, Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell, Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron.

In a letter sent Monday to leaders of the Screen Actors Guild, the stars cited the weakening economy as the key factor in their move. They also said that it's time to "take the high road" by preparing to fight for a better deal in three years.

"We feel very strongly that SAG members should not vote to authorize a strike at this time," the letter said. "We don't think that an authorization can be looked at as merely a bargaining tool. It must be looked at as what it is -- an agreement to strike if negotiations fail."

The letter comes with SAG scheduled to send out a strike authorization vote Jan. 2 to its 110,000 dues current members with ballots due back Jan. 23. For a strike to occur, at least 75% of those voting would have to affirm the authorization with the national board having the final say over a work stoppage.

"We support our union and we support the issues we're fighting for, but we do not believe in all good conscience that now is the time to be putting people out of work," the letter also said. "None of our friends in the other unions are truly happy with the deals they made in their negotiations. Three years from now all the union contracts will be up again at roughly the same time. At that point if we plan and work together with our sister unions we will have incredible leverage."

The letter was sent a few hours after SAG president Alan Rosenberg called off Friday's emergency national board meeting in the face of objections over requiring that reps attend the Los Angeles confab in person. Over the weekend, Rosenberg scheduled the emergency meeting and blasted demands by SAG's New York reps that the upcoming strike authorization vote be called off due to the faltering economy.

The Gotham reps also want the guild's contract negotiating committee replaced in the hopes that a new panel can end the months-long stalemate with the majors. And they indicated that requiring cross-country travel on short notice, when videoconferencing equipment is readily available, could only be interpreted as a punitive move by Rosenberg that's designed to hold down attendance by those opposing the guild's Hollywood leadership.

Rosenberg did not respond to those concerns but continued to blast the New York reps.

"Rather than argue over the propriety of an in-person meeting I have decided to withdraw the meeting notice for now," he said. "However, you will be promptly notified should the meeting be rescheduled for a later date. I am disappointed that during these critical times not all of our board members are willing to take the time needed to make real progress on the issues dividing our elected leaders."

Rosenberg also complained that last week's regularly scheduled meeting of the national executive committee had been cut short because the New York members of the panel all left the meeting, depriving it of a quorum and preventing it from completing Guild business.

"Given this conduct, and the sensitivity and complexity of the issues at hand, I do not believe a videoconference board meeting will be effective or productive," he added.