SAG Heads for Oscars

Reports out of LA indicate that the Strike Authorization Vote isn’t headed out to the members of the Screen Actors Guild until January 2, 2009.  The reason for the long delay is unclear. Certainly the issues are very familiar to the membership already and they are no doubt ready to vote one way or the other. 

SAG NED Doug Allen said in a statement: 

“We want SAG members to have time to focus on this critical referendum, so we have decided to mail ballots the day after New Year’s. We will continue our comprehensive education campaign and urge our members to vote yes on the strike authorization.” 

That sounds to me like a concern that the staff and leadership needs more time to swing votes in favor of the Authorization, though again after nearly a year of negotiations one wonders what more could possibly be said at this point.

But a delay like this does give the SAG hard liners probably their only option at this point: since the vote takes three weeks, results will come in just a few weeks before the Oscars which are set for February 22. That probably means Membership First is considering a short and sharp walkout just prior to the Oscars and hoping the fear of a disrupted event would force the hand of the AMPTP to make a face saving concession. Such a disruption is possible even with a weak turnout from the members, which seems likely based on the tepid response to the call for a Strike Vote.
The pitch from Nick Counter to AMPTP on a concession at that point would be: hey, we will offer a minor adjustment to new media but take off the table any retroactivity and also remove the simultaneous expiration date with the WGA deal. The producers would realize that that would mean they would not lose very much money overall because the offer would not be retroactive. 
And to add insult to injury that slight adjustment would become the template next time around for the WGA and DGA which won commitments to re-openers on new media. And because SAG would once again have a contract that expires at a very different time than the other guilds the possibility of a united front is once again disrupted.
So SAG’s apparent militancy could become an albatross around the neck of all the Guilds.