Spurning the hand in peace offered by SAG Watch, today SAG/MF jumped over that cliff the union has been racing towards for the last few months denouncing its sister union in no uncertain terms at a boisterous but sparsely attended rally outside SAG HQ on Wilshire Blvd in LA today.
Whether they are wearing a working parachute or not remains unclear.
The low turnout at today’s rally suggests the latter. Estimates of 300 (no, unfortunately, not those guys from Sparta with those cool swords and helmets) seem on the high side from the TV footage I’ve seen and given that SAG staff would make up at least 100 or more of those in attendance, it appears that the rank and file are voting already with their feet on the 2Allens strategy. Ratification of the AFTRA contract seems dead certain in light of the 91% vote in favor on their 76 person national board (presumably the holdouts are the Membership First stand ins).
The producers will now, confidently, cross their arms and “just say no.” In the labor-management biz this is known as “Boulwarism,” after a famous labor negotiator for General Electric. In theory, it’s illegal because it can amount to failing to bargain in good faith (which is a legal phrase meaning you have to move in negotiations towards the other party from your initial position or else it is not “good faith”). But at the last minute they will likely get all warm and fuzzy and offer the 2Allens a “last and final” deal, moving slightly on an issue they already planned to give in on (maybe clip use, maybe force majeur) and see whether or not the 2Allens blink.
And that is when the rubber will meet the road. The 2Allens will have two choices:
1) the brinksmanship and bluffing comes to an end and the 2Allens will have to decide whether to cut a deal and declare victory. But this puts their futures at risk when MF cries “betrayal.” That may explain the heavy handed anti-AFTRA rhetoric now. It has nothing to do with increasing leverage at the table, since the deal will likely be ratified, rather it is aimed at giving the 2Allens political cover when they cut the deal.
2) Instead, push the members out on strike (or at least those who are still willing to follow, presumably more than those who showed up today). Of course, that means AFTRA is free to sign up producers to more shows and get a jump in the new media environment. And likely with the backing of the AFL-CIO in the current dust-up. Well, at least, Alan Rosenberg would finally get “his” strike (as reportedly he said he wanted at several gatherings in recent months).