Ending a year-long, bitter stalemate, the membership of the Screen Actors Guild has voted overwhelmingly to ratify a two-year contract with film and TV producers. The vote was 78 percent in favor, 22 percent opposed. More than 35 percent of the 110,000 members of the union took part in the voting, above average for such votes. The schismatic divisions within the union remained evident even after the results were tallied. In a statement, SAG National Executive Director David White praised the outcome, saying, "This decisive vote gets our members back to work with immediate pay raises and puts SAG in a strong position for the future." On the other hand, SAG President Alan Rosenberg, who led the opposition to the contract, observed tartly that the membership had "decided to work under the terms of this contract that many of us ... believe to be devastatingly unsatisfactory." Both sides said that talks ought to begin at once with sister unions in the industry to prepare a strategy for 2011 negotiations. (However, some commentators have warned that in two years the issue of new media residuals, the primary issue dividing the union members, is likely to remain moot as new media continue to fracture the network audience and the industry's conglomerates are forced to exchange "new media dimes for broadcast dollars." Some have warned that far from becoming a source of new riches, the Internet could wreak the same devastation to broadcasting that it already has to newspapers.) Despite the outcome of the SAG vote, Rosenberg surprisingly used the occasion to announce that he would seek a third term this fall. On his blog, entertainment attorney Jonathan Handel commented that Rosenberg is likely to face "an uphill climb, especially if the moderates/independents put forward a high-profile candidate, such as James Cromwell, who has been rumored to be considering a run."

10/06/2009