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SAG to Vote on Negotiating Separately from AFTRA

The Screen Actors Guild board of directors agreed to call for a vote on whether to negotiate separately from the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists on a new contract with the studios.

SAG leadership argued that as currently constituted, the so-called Phase I agreement under which the two unions have bargained for separate but identical contracts since 1981 is "as out-of-date as black-and-white television," as SAG president Alan Rosenberg put it in announcing the call for a referendum of the rank and file.

Rosenberg said AFTRA had been "unwilling" to correct "the shortcomings in the current agreement. AFTRA had hoped to continue to bargain in tandem, saying that it was in the best interests of both of their constituencies.

But following Rosenberg's comments, AFTRA fired off a response Sunday saying, "SAG's repeated attempts to undermine AFTRA and create a schism between our unions are divisive, destructive and clearly not in the best interest of performers in either union." Ascribing the vote to a "radical Hollywood faction" of SAG, AFTRA said it would not be made the scapegoat for SAG's political divide. "We condemn actions by SAG to terminate a joint bargaining agreement that has been working to our members' mutual benefit for 27 years," AFTRA added.