Today's SAG Election Won't End Contract Dispute

Despite the battle going on within the Screen Actors Guild, don’t expect today’s board election, even if it does result in a shift of power, to produce a resolution to the union’s contract stalemate with the studios—mostly because both sides haven’t actually been negotiating.

LA Times: The balance of power on the national board of the Screen Actors Guild could be shifted after Thursday night, when the union announces results of a hotly contested board election.

Regardless of who wins, however, don’t expect to see any quick resolution to the stalemate with studios that has left actors working without a contract since June 30.

The election has pitted a group of dissidents in Hollywood against the more hard-line incumbent group known as Membership First, with celebrity supporters lining up on either side. It’s Tom Hanks vs. Martin Sheen…

The group has made no secret of its unhappiness with SAG Executive Director Doug Allen over his handling of the negotiations and relations with the smaller actors union the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. And with control of the national board, the dissidents could take steps to either replace Allen as chief negotiator or fire him outright…

Even if the negotiating team changes, however, it’s not at all clear whether the studios will budge from their hard-line stance, including their refusal to recognise SAG’s jurisdiction over all shows created for the Web, regardless of budget — a goal that has been widely shared among moderates and hardliners alike.

In any event, nothing will likely happen until the national board meets Oct. 18.

In the meantime, SAG and the studios can’t even agree on whether they are still negotiating…

A recent mailer to the guild’s 120,000 members described how SAG negotiators had been engaged in talks with employers, representatives on the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and a core group of leaders from both organisations…

But such statements have baffled studio executives who say no negotiations or bargaining — informal, formal, or otherwise — have occurred since they sputtered in early July. Studio sources close to the discussions, who asked not to be identified because the discussions (not negotiations, they emphasise) were confidential. Instead, they said, the communications have largely consisted of Allen calling studio executives and media moguls such as News Corp. President Peter Chernin and asking them what he could do to jump start negotiations.

See Also: SAG Civil War: New York Division Furious That There’s No New Deal With Studios
SAG Contract Expires…But Actors Too Busy Fighting To Strike

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