On October 19, your National Board voted by 97% - 3% to send out a strike authorization ballot to members if mediation in the TV/Theatrical contract failed. We made a determined effort to mediate the contract negotiations but could not reach agreement in the face of the AMPTP's refusal to compromise.
After mediation failed, a number of national board members publicly repudiated the board's almost unanimous decision to ask the members to authorize the board to decide whether, and if so when, to call a strike.
Although I believe giving the National Board the authorization to determine whether to call a strike is our best strategy, that strategy has been severely compromised by the division of a now deeply and publicly split National Board leadership.
President Rosenberg and I called a special meeting of the National Board to attempt to resolve those differences. That board meeting ended with no action after two days and twenty four hours of continuous executive session.
During the hours of that executive session, I proposed a compromise to move Screen Actors Guild forward. Because my subsequent letter to the board describing my proposal has been made public, I wanted you to hear from me what I proposed.
If the National Board does not adopt this compromise, or otherwise change the decision the board made in October, the strike authorization referendum will be conducted, with ballots sent to every eligible member for a vote.
Please read my letter to the National Board. I encourage you to communicate with your elected leadership and me your views on this subject.
National Executive Director
& Chief Negotiator
Doug Allen's Letter to the National Board of Directors January 14, 2009
Dear SAG National Board Members and Alternates,
Because the executive session of our recent extraordinary National Board meeting occurred without my presence in the room, I want to directly communicate several points to all board members and alternates.
I began and ended my report to the National Board on January 12 by stating that I have followed and always will follow the directives of the National Board expressed by a unanimous or majority vote. Under my leadership all SAG staff has complied and will comply with those directives as well. I also said that I am by SAG constitution and by employment contract accountable to the board for my performance.
I welcome your review of that performance and respectfully request only that, in the interest of fairness, such review include the opportunity for me to discuss with the board any comments, questions or issues you wish to raise, not in lieu of executive session discussion, but prior to such discussion.
It is unfortunate that the important matters contained in the National Board meeting agenda were not accomplished at the meeting January 12 and 13. I know that opinions vary sharply on why that happened. From my perspective, to the extent AMPTP positions or actions are the problem, the solution cannot be determined by how intensely you fight among yourselves.
Regarding the TV/Theatrical negotiations, and the sharply divided opinions on the board about how to proceed, I offered the following suggestion to a cross section of Guild leaders during the period of the executive session. I asked that they discuss the suggestion with other board members in attendance. I proposed that the strike authorization referendum be suspended and that management's offer be put to the membership in a ratification vote. I also proposed that, before that membership ratification vote, we meet immediately with the AMPTP to determine to what extent, if any, they are willing to improve their last offer, to maximize its chances for ratification. I further proposed that the offer then be sent to the members with Pro and Con statements from National Board members and that otherwise the Guild would remain neutral during any member debate regarding ratification. This process will give Screen Actors Guild members the opportunity to formally express themselves on the bargaining issues.
This suggestion was communicated to some, but not all board members in attendance, and apparently was rejected by some who heard it, at least in part, because they believe I could not be "trusted" to implement it. Since I am the one proposing it and since I have never acted contrary to the directives of the National Board, that is not a reasonable objection. In any case, if it is the decision of the National Board to proceed as I have proposed, I assure you that the staff and I will carry out your decision faithfully and diligently.
I will convene an Officers' call this week to discuss this suggestion and how it might be considered and implemented. I encourage all board members to discuss these issues with the Guild officers or with me in advance of the call.
There are no more important issues before us than the conclusion of the TV/Theatrical Contract negotiations and the initiation of the Commercial Contract negotiations. Super-heated rhetoric through the press will not contribute to our success on behalf of the members. Working together to resolve your differences will.