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SAG president: Stop that strike talk

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  • Screen Actors Guild head: Strike talk "a distraction"
  • Contract with studios expires at midnight Monday
  • Other actors union, AFTRA, has negotiated a separate deal
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The Screen Actors Guild has told its 122,000 members to stay on the job even if the union fails to reach a deal with film and television studios before their contract expires at midnight Monday.

SAG President Alan Rosenberg said no strike vote has been planned, and the union's negotiators are "coming to the bargaining table every day in good faith."

"Any talk about a strike or a management lockout at this point is simply a distraction," he said.

The talks have been complicated by a split between SAG and the smaller American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which has reached its own agreement with the studios. About 44,000 of AFTRA's 70,000 members belong to both unions, and SAG leaders have urged those members to vote against the deal. Video Watch why the two unions operate separately »

But AFTRA President Roberta Reardon said her union's agreement is "a solid deal" that should be ratified -- and she blasted SAG for trying to influence her members.

"The trust between these two unions is really broken," she said. "We did not want to be in a situation where we were spending all our time negotiating with our partner rather than negotiating across the table with our employers."

SAG argues that the agreement between AFTRA and the studios provides no increase for DVD residual payments and would weaken both unions by allowing for nonunion new media production.

"This would set up AFTRA as the cheaper, more producer-friendly alternative in new media," SAG argued in a written statement. "When unions compete with different contract terms, actors lose. It starts a race to the bottom that SAG doesn't want to win."

Reardon said the fight "has caused a great deal of confusion in the membership."

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"My dues money as a SAG member is being used against me, and I didn't have a vote in it," she said.

Film and television writers ended a 100-day strike in February after a contract was reached that included use of writers' work on the Internet. Dozens of films and TV shows were stalled by that strike.

CNN's Jennifer Wolfe contributed to this report.

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