Nikki Finke is up to her old tricks again.
She maintains a fiction that she is an active supporter of Hollywood labor unions but then she attacks Jonathan Handel, arguing he is a shil for the companies, when, in fact, Handel, a former WGA lawyer, is quite friendly with and supportive of the Guilds.
Now she has reported that the Producers are “whining” about the latest mailing by SAG to its members regarding the last offer made by the AMPTP to SAG.
Ms. Finke should spend a little time learning labor law 101. If so, she would realize that what the Producers are doing is laying the groundwork for a legal defense in case they decide to impose their last offer on SAG members.
They can do that if the talks between both sides have reached an “impasse,” which is a term of art in labor law that requires an analysis of the facts surrounding the negotiations. One key fact is whether or not the union has been willing to send an offer to the members for a vote.
So Nikki can argue that the Producers are whining all she wants but she misses the point of this exercise: the AMPTP is building their case for an impasse and SAG is resisting by sending out a “poll” of their members. Clearly the poll is not an up or down vote and thus I don’t think SAG is helping its case much for defending against the possibility of impasse.
UPDATE: It will not help if the report that the poll is, in fact, not a secret ballot is accurate. A report on SAG Watch indicates that the post card ballot includes a bar code that enables SAG to identify who has voted and how they have voted.
This is akin to a voice vote in a public arena, something that federal labor law has outlawed for many decades when it comes to union organizing elections.
This will further undermine the claim that the vote has any legal or political significance. This is unfortunate for SAG because if the leadership is attempting to use the vote to demonstrate greater backing for their delaying strategy at the bargaining table this is not a very good way to do that.
But of course SAG’s MF leaders are even more nervous that the the membership would accept the offer in light of their failed “go it alone” strategy.
So one explanation for the bar code approach is that it serves to decrease the likelihood that union dissenters will vote thus artificially increasing the illusion of support for Membership First.
This recalls the use of union staffers to bolster the rally organized by SAG to interfere with the ratification vote of their sister union, AFTRA.
There is also a report that the idea of putting the outing bar code on the post card ballot was not what the National Board voted to do. It was a decision taken later by SAG, whether elected officers or staff I do not know.
Finke’s spin on this story does a disservice to her audience which needs the straight scoop.