If accurate, this report by Backstage reporter Andrew Salomon is a bombshell. He reports on the Backstage blog tonight that SAG, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, intends to campaign among voting members of AFTRA, another AFL-CIO affiliate, to vote down the recently announced contract between AFTRA and the Producers. Update: last night Andrew quoted only industry sources on this story but today an unnamed SAG official denies the two Allens made the campaign threat. Sounds like they may have re-considered the ill-considered idea overnight. Or perhaps the Sony film chief was playing mischief with the union – frankly, he probably has better things to do with his time.
But if it was the Allens, did they really consider the potential fall out of this kind of threat? SAGWatch is reporting growing hostility to SAG from both Equity and AFTRA now inside what remains of the 4A’s. There is always the possibility that they succeed and AFTRA dual cardholders vote down the deal – AFTRA could offer producers work under the old contract while SAG is out on strike.
Perhaps more interesting in the update is that Sony execs apparently pooh-poohed the idea of back door informal negotiations with studio execs as opposed to direct negotiations with the AMPTP’s Nick Counter. That is a signal that they intend, for the time being, to stick to the pattern set by other guilds.
Next to the IA holding demonstrations against striking writers, this is the most sharply aggressive action to date among the feuding entertainment industry unions. The political and legal fallout is hard to fathom. Will AFTRA sue SAG for tortious interference with its business relationships? Will AFTRA seek an injunction against SAG’s campaign? Did SAG’s board discuss and vote on this strategy before the two Allens announced it in the Sony sitdown (if they did indeed announce it)? If not, what will the membership say?
And, even if one is upset about the terms negotiated by AFTRA, what good would this do? Much greater dissent was heard in advance of the WGA deal and yet the membership rationally recognized that they got about all they could out of the Producers with SAG sidelined by its tangle with sister union AFTRA.
And the AFTRA membership seems likely to agree that they are in no better position to get any more out of the Producers this time around, even as the DVD revenues continue to flow into studio coffers. Certainly there is scant evidence that the AFTRA members affected by the deal are willing to strike over clip use.