Well, Membership First got what they wanted…their filibuster of the SAG meeting blocked a vote to depose Doug Allen, change the negotiating team and at least hold off for a while on a Strike Authorization.
Yesterday afternoon it was widely reported that the new National Board majority had the votes to prevail. Even a leading Membership First activist, Seymour Cassell, was conceding this fact. (Cassell, it should be said, represents a wing of Membership First adherents which is not particularly happy with Doug Allen and has been at odds at times with Alan Rosenberg and Anne-Marie Johnson, as well.)
Why or how the Board majority let this slip through their fingers is not yet clear – apparently they did not have adequate legal or strategic counsel in advance of the meeting and thus could not deal with the tactical maneuvers of the more experienced Membership First board members.
But what has Membership First, in fact, won?
They now know that an SAV will fail. Every other Guild in town has signed the deal even if they did so holding their noses. And the SAG NED is now seen widely as a lost cause.
And perhaps worse they have likely further alienated the growing opposition which has, so far, only a simple majority in the national board but is likely to have increased the chances of growing that majority in future elections.
Why is that true? Because Membership First has now weakened their hand at the bargaining table considerably as a result of their tactics at the meeting. In fact, the outsiders looking in were all wondering how the opposition might have any better chance at improving the deal if they won last night, but now MF has prevented that from happening.
I had suggested that if the majority had won then they might be in a position to persuade a delegation of anti-strike A-listers to join the negotiating team to bear witness to the process. Certainly that will not happen now.
So, as Colin Powell once warned President Bush about going to war in Iraq, the Pottery Barn rule applies: if you break it, you own it.
If it did not work for Bush, why would it be tried by Membership First?
It appears they want to hold on to power, clear and simple, rather than try to find a way to improve the lives of actors.
They are unwilling to recognize the failure of their go it alone strategy. That approach was doomed to failure and so MF is now doing everything it can to avoid being blamed for the obvious.
Now they will send out the SAV and hope that they get a bare majority, perhaps 60%. Then they can blame the 40% “minority” for blocking their bargaining goals as they go into the fall elections.
Disingenuous, you say? Cynical, perhaps?
Sure, but pretty consistent with MF and Doug Allen behavior in the past – as in the statements that Hulu is profitable, that an SAV does not necessarily mean a strike or that a strike would not disrupt the industry.
These are the dead give-aways that MF, at least some perhaps not all, are playing political and professional survival games not engaging in serious trade unionism.
As I have said before, not a pretty picture.