2ND UPDATE: The New York board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild released a resolution today that urges the guild to begin negotiations on a new contract as soon as possible. It’s well known that the NY and LA branches of SAG are often at odds. The resolution comes only hours after SAG leaders Alan Rosenberg and Doug Allen sent a letter to members updating them on the union’s immediate plans. Pressure on SAG leaders to start talks earlier is coming from big-name actors, moguls and the trades who do the Hollywood CEOs’ bidding.

Here’s the SAG-NY branch news release and the resolution:

Members of the New York Board of Screen Actors Guild have passed a resolution (attached) demanding that the Guild begin the TV/Theatrical negotiations. Frustrated by what they see as unnecessary delays, the New York Board demands a start date no later than the end of March, 2008. Members of at least five other regional branch divisions have issued similar resolutions.

“I see absolutely no value to the members in delaying these talks any longer,” said New York President Sam Freed.  “We are dealing with serious issues.  We should already be at the bargaining table.”

The resolutions echo the sentiments already expressed in Hollywood by many rank and file and high profile members. New York based actor Alec Baldwin agrees. “SAG should pursue a course similar to the DGA where early negotiations short circuit the need for a strike.”

Resolution

Whereas:

Screen Actors Guild leadership is ignoring the proven success of the strategy of early negotiations.

Whereas:

Were we following the precedent of recent history, negotiations on the TV/theatrical contract would now be in process and would be completed by the end of March.

Whereas:

The current Guild leadership is instead wasting valuable time and Guild resources fighting with our bargaining partner and unnecessarily delaying the start of negotiations.

Whereas:

The continued delay of negotiations jeopardizes the ability of our members to continue working, limits our negotiating options and diminishes our ability to make the best deal possible.

Therefore be it resolved:

That SAG leadership immediately announces that negotiations for the TV/Theatrical contract will begin no later than the end of March, 2008.

UPDATE: The following statement was released today by Screen Actors Guild National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Doug Allen:

“President Alan Rosenberg and I reported the status of SAG’s Wages and Working conditions process and negotiations timeline via an email sent to our national board of directors last night, and to SAG members this morning.

“We feel it is important to communicate directly with our members regarding the progress of our preparation for formal negotiations and as indicated in our letter, our internal member input meetings conducted jointly with AFTRA, have been very productive. We are not only pleased with the level of participation and commitment our members have demonstrated, but also with the productive pace of these critical preparatory sessions.

“We are, and will continue to meet with rank-and-file and high profile members, and management representatives including the CEOs, to lay the foundation for formal negotiations.

“Despite claims to the contrary by a few that we are not moving fast enough, we are well underway in this important, collaborative process.“

[NF: Here is what was sent to SAG members:]

LETTER OF APPRECIATION FROM ALAN ROSENBERG & DOUG ALLEN

Dear Member,
We want to thank the hundreds of members around the country who have so far participated in the process – called wages and working conditions (W&W) – by which member input is given to your negotiators for the new TV/Theatrical contract covering movies, television and new media. Our W&W process, jointly conducted with AFTRA and required by SAG’s constitution, will conclude March 31, 2008. The TV/Theatrical Contract expires June 30, 2008.  Sometime after March 31, 2008 we will begin formal negotiations with the employers’ representative, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

We want to begin formal negotiations as soon as we have the best chance to finish the negotiations with a fair agreement, acceptable to SAG members. In the meantime, and while we finish the W&W process, we are doing the other things necessary to prepare. That preparation includes assembling up-to-date financial, economic and member earnings’ data. In the coming weeks we will be meeting with management to exchange information and our perspectives on the state of the industry. We will also meet with management to work on the schedule and logistics of negotiations. Our lines of communication with management have been and will continue to be open. Given the experience of the DGA and WGA in their recent negotiations, we will certainly continue to meet with the CEO’s of the major networks and studios as we prepare for formal negotiations.

There are a number of issues very important to actors that have not been dealt with in either the DGA or WGA contracts, just as some of their most important issues only affected their memberships. The compression of compensation for middle class working actors and forced endorsement by product integration, for example, must be addressed in our negotiations. Also, the impact of some of the new media provisions of the DGA or WGA contracts would fall more harshly on actors than on writers and directors. SAG and AFTRA must negotiate an agreement that is in the best interest of actors.

The impact of the calendar on the industry, particularly its impact on movies not yet in production, affects actors and employers. It is important that our response to the urgency of the calendar is thoughtful, measured, and productive. We cannot ignore the calendar. Neither should we impose deadlines on ourselves, in essence bargaining against ourselves. We will diligently and patiently finish the work necessary to best position your negotiating committee to secure a contract that will address the needs of the membership. That work will include determining with AFTRA, and then with the AMPTP, when our negotiations will begin. That date will be as soon as possible, but not before we finish our member-driven W&W process and not until we are in a position to finish what we start. Your elected and staff leadership will do everything we can to achieve the results you deserve. We appreciate your continuing support. We are proud to represent you in these critical negotiations.

Alan Rosenberg, President
Doug Allen National Executive Director

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