Producers ask for vote – impasse to follow?
The AFTRA Unity Initiative assessed.
Whatever the spin meisters now try to argue, the facts are pretty clear: AFTRA members, voting 62% Yes and 38% No, accepted the same basic framework as the WGA and DGA. Their members now have a deal in line with the rest of the town, outside of SAG and they can go back to work under a new union contract.
Oddly, SAG now has the result it wanted, too: it is now all alone, at the end of the line, attempting to wrest more out of the Producers.
While the Membership First party hard core will likely take some comfort in the 1 out of 3 AFTRA members who voted No, thus confirming the loyalty of their patient faithful, the harsh cold reality tomorrow morning will be painful: the result does not change their bargaining power for the better, it instead allows the producers to continue to sit stone faced with their arms crossed saying, well, take it or leave it.
In fact, there is a new item tonight in the Producers’ response to the vote: they want SAG to put their “final” offer to the SAG membership for a ratification vote. This is a typical step by an employer looking for evidence that the negotiations are at an impasse, a stage which would allow the unilateral imposition of the terms of the final offer. If SAG refuses to compromise on any of its terms and refuses to allow a membership vote, it can be evidence of an impasse.
And what can SAG do now? A strike? That takes twice as many votes as they achieved tonight – 75% of their entire membership. Yet, the remaining issues on the table are not likely to be seen by the membership as strike issues.
It could have been so different – if the strategy put in place by Doug Allen and Alan Rosenberg had put SAG in its much deserved leadership role in the industry.
Instead, incredibly, they elected to follow not lead.
Instead, AFTRA is now claiming the leadership mantle: their press release tonight outlines a new Unity initiative in the industry in coordination with the AFL-CIO.
This can be read two ways: of course, the idea of coordination, as I have written here and elsewhere, is critical for the effective creation of leverage against the conglomerates and so the initiative is welcome and, frankly, overdue; but two, it shows that AFTRA is not shy about leading this effort as a result of the vacuum in leadership created by SAG’s “go it alone” strategy.
Those who voted No as a result of SAG’s pressure campaign should ask themselves if that is the way they really want to go.
The Producers have played their hand masterfully and now SAG must face the music. It is a sad and disappointing day in many ways for the most important Guild in the industry. I am not sure that they can recover from the blows they are now taking.