There were no protests outside the Harmony Gold theater. It was standing room only inside the full room. A few people stayed in line for seats as they opened up. But many SAG members in good standing showed up for the limited 455 seating at the guild’s Town Hall confab about the coming Strike Authorization Vote and had to be turned away. They were told there would be another meeting in a much larger venue at the Hollywood Renaissance hotel next Wednesday, December 17th. [In NYC, SAG changed the date of its Town Hall meeting at the Westin Times Square to next Monday, December 15th, to accomodate those who work on Broadway.] Meanwhile, I’m told the Strike Authorization ballots will go out right after Christmas to SAG’s 120,000 members. More than 75% of those returned would have to vote “yes” to give SAG leadership the added negotiating leverage of a strike authorization.
I was informed by attendees that inside tonight’s session, the dais consisted of SAG President Alan Rosenberg, Executive Director & Chief Negotiator Doug Allen, Deputy National Executive Director for Contracts Ray Rodriguez, Hollywood Division 1st National Vice-President Anne-Marie Johnson, and Negotiating Committee chief David Jolliffe. First, there were opening statements. Then a question-and-answer session was held with the members in the audience. ”About 99% of those who spoke were exceedingly supportive and said ‘Yes, we need a strike authorization vote.’ I was shocked. The people on the dais even got a lot of standing ovations,,” one attendee told me. “But you never know about those people who didn’t speak.” One member asked SAG leaders to clarify why the WGA writers haven’t been paid their New Media residuals by the studios and networks. And an IATSE member who’s also a SAG member complained about the lousy terms including Health Plan rollbacks he thought IA had negotiated with the AMPTP representing Big Media. The SAG leaders responded by explaining the difficulties of dealing with the AMPTP which refuses to bargain in good faith with not just SAG but all the Hollywood guilds. Towards the end of the meeting, SAG board member Frances Fisher, who was the last speaker, asked those still present to raise their hands if they were going to vote “yes” on the strike authorization ballot. “Some people had already left but I think everyone else put their hand up,” SAG prez Rosenberg told reporters.
Among those attending were former SAG president Ed Asner, and board members Frances Fisher, Kent McCord, Seymour Cassel and former board members Sally Kirkland and Mike Farrell, who has spoken out publicly against the Strike Authorization Vote. Recently elected National Board member Amy Brenneman, one of the leaders of the Unite For Strength campaign, also was there as well as U4S member Amy Aquino. I’m told that no U4S board members spoke at the mike. One U4S Hollywood board member was overheard commenting to others that U4S will be staging “Vote No” alternative educational campaigns on the strike authorization although none have yet been announced.
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