The Screen Actors Guild National Board Of Directors issued a statement today about what its next steps will be. And the AMPTP immediately said it would not give SAG a better deal than the other four major unions. To clarify, the SAG National Board is asking for federal mediation to step in because the Hollywood employers are refusing to negotiate. Time will be allowed for that federal mediation to accomplish a breakthrough. The Board is leaving it up to SAG’s national negotiating committee to determine if and when mediation becomes fruitless: if that point is reached, then the referendum seeking a strike authorization goes out to members. This process takes anywhere from 30 to 45 days, including three weeks for the ballots to come back to SAG. If the vote is yes to empower a strike by at least 75% of eligible SAG members who return ballots, this still does not mean a strike will be called. Because then it’s up to the National Board to decide if and when to call for the work stoppage. In other words, Hollywood is still a long way from another strike. But the timing could threaten the Golden Globes and Academy Awards again. SAG’s and the AMPTP’s statements are below:

Los Angeles (October 19, 2008) – The Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors today passed the following resolution at its quarterly plenary in Los Angeles:

“In hopes of moving the Theatrical and TV negotiations forward, the national board hereby takes the following actions:

SAG will formally request a federal mediator be brought into the negotiations.

The Board adds four new members to the National Negotiating Committee, two from the Hollywood Division, one from the New York Division and one from the Regional Branch Division.

The Board authorizes a referendum and accompanying educational information be sent to the members requesting their authorization for the National Board to call a strike in the Theatrical and TV Contract, at such time as the Negotiating Committee determines in its sole discretion that the mediation process has failed.”

Adopted 96.72% to 3.28%

Approval of the strike authorization would require 75 percent approval of members who vote.

“We hope mediation will help move this process forward. This action by the board demonstrates our commitment to bargain with the strength of our unified membership behind us. Economic times are tough for all Americans, but we must take a stand for what is fair,” said Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg.

“Our number one goal remains securing a good contract without a strike,” said SAG National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Doug Allen. “I am pleased by the board’s strong show of support for the national negotiating committee and look forward to meeting with the federal mediator and the AMPTP committee as soon as possible.”

Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) negotiating committees met for 44 days of formal negotiations and have not yet reached a successor agreement to the TV/Theatrical Agreement that expired June 30, 2008.

The board further resolved to add four new members to the negotiation committee, two from the Hollywood Division, one from the New York Division and one from the Regional Branch Division.

The AMPTP responded:

The AMPTP has successfully negotiated four major labor pacts with Hollywood Guilds this year, and we would like to close a fifth with SAG. That said, there is simply no justification for SAG to expect a deal that is in excess of what the other Guilds negotiated in better economic times. No matter what SAG does – whether it be authorizing a strike or following a different approach — it will not change the harsh reality that currently confronts our industry.