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SAG postpones strike authorization vote

December 23, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild have postponed a strike authorization vote originally scheduled for Jan. 2.Instead, the union's national board will meet in Los Angeles for two days, beginning Jan. 12, and voting will take place over a three-week period.

The board is hoping to cool tensions within the union between those who want to strike and those who don't.

The union initially planned to send strike authorization ballots to more than 100,000 union members on Jan. 2, a date that would have put Oscar night within reach of a potential boycott.

Doug Allen, SAG's national executive director, said the union is split on whether to cast ballots. He said 2,524 members endorse the vote and 1,373 members are opposed, including A-list actors Pierce Brosnan and Cameron Diaz.

"This division does not help our effort to get an agreement ... that our members will ratify," Allen wrote in a letter to union members.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major studios, have been negotiating a new deal with SAG since before the previous contract expired June 30.

AMPTP spokesman Jesse Hiestand said the studios were aware of the delay but had no comment.

The guild is seeking union coverage for all Internet-only productions regardless of budget, residual payments for Internet productions replayed in ad-supported platforms online, and continued actor benefits during work stoppages, including those caused by strikes by other unions.

The studios have said a formula for payment in new media formats has already been agreed upon by another actors union, directors, and writers, whose 100-day strike derailed the Golden Globe Awards in January.

The studios have said it was unreasonable for SAG to demand a better deal, especially now that the economy has worsened.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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