Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another Strike Looming?

There's an important deadline coming up Monday night.

Remember, a couple of months ago, the Directors' Guild reached a settlement with the Hollywood studios. Shortly afterward, the Writers' Guild reached agreement.

The end of the Screen Actors Guild's contract arrives at midnight on 6/30.

According to Friday's Wall Street Journal (WSJ):
As the expiration of the Screen Actors Guild contract approaches this Monday, the actors' union finds itself with two battles on its hands: one against the major studios it is negotiating with, and one with itself. How the 120,000- member union resolves its own civil war will determine how and when Hollywood's latest labor showdown gets settled . . .

But resolution isn't expected until more than a week later because of an escalating intramural fight among actors and their unions. A second actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists [AFTRA], reached a tentative deal with the studios in late May, and the results of the ratification vote by members, going on now, will arrive July 8. The deal was the first time in 27 years that the two unions have negotiated separately. The Screen Actors Guild -- which shares about 44,000 members with AFTRA -- has gone on the attack against its sister union, criticizing its new contract for alleged deficiencies in areas such as actor compensation and jurisdiction over online content.

The WSJ believes that the AFTRA actors' vote will signal what to expect with the SAG vote. If the AFTRA members accept the deal proposed by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers by a wide margin, the SAG members will probably do the same. If AFTRA turns down the deal, SAG will probably think about striking.

Big names are trying to influence both unions. Tom Hanks is encouraging AFTRA members to sign the proposed deal while Jack Nicholson is urging AFTRA to join SAG in continuing to negotiate.
On Thursday afternoon, George Clooney positioned himself as a peacemaker, releasing a two-page missive that asked for a compromise between the two unions. "Both are, of course, right," Mr. Clooney writes. "What we can't do is pit artist against artist," he adds, "because the one thing you can be sure of is that stories about Jack Nicholson vs. Tom Hanks only strengthens the negotiating power of" the studios. SAG's attack on its sister union has sparked such internal strife among its own ranks that getting strike authorization, which requires approval from 75% of its members who vote, seems like a longshot.

Get ready to buckle down. It may be a long, hot summer. And next season's television shows may be at risk.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Yikes! I heard a short comment about this on the evening news but didn't know the extent of the problem. I do not watch any reality TV, and I don't have cable, so if the dramas and comedies don't show it will be me and my DVD player.