Is SAG strike imminent? A Call for a Vote

Yesterday, the Screen Actors Guild negotiating committee passed an advisory motion recommending that the board whip up a resolution to vote on an authorization to strike. This sounds like madness, and maybe it is, but my read is that the guild is looking to put pressure on the studios to return to the negotiating table. […]

Yesterday, the Screen Actors Guild negotiating committee passed an advisory motion recommending that the board whip up a resolution to vote on an authorization to strike.

This sounds like madness, and maybe it is, but my read is that the guild is looking to put pressure on the studios to return to the negotiating table. The motion recommended that the national board "adopt a resolution strongly supporting such an action, and recommending that the membership vote in favor of a strike authorization."

In a country where the economy is teetering on the brink of crisis, and in an industry where there is almost no new movie production underway because of the lapsed SAG contract, one wonders why the guild is now prepared to push for a strike vote. The answer is that the guild has precious few options given the unmoving position of the studios, represented by the AMPTP, and is seeking to force the studios back to the table.

The studios, however, do not seem to be feeling the pressure. The scary state of the economy undoubtedly gives them comfort that strike talk is bluster. The AMPTP put out this statement last night: "Is this really the time for anyone associated with the entertainment business to be talking about going on strike? … It is unrealistic for SAG negotiators now to expect even better terms during this grim financial climate. This is the harsh economic reality, and no strike will change that reality."

On the other hand, self-destructive acts by Hollywood guilds are not exactly unusual. Just because a strike might not achieve the desired goal (as in the case of the writer’s guild) is no reason to believe that SAG might not go there.