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Screen Actors Guild to ask for strike after talks collapse

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Producers say SAG is asking members to "bail out" failed talks with strike vote
  • Screen Actors Guild and producers union talks break off
  • Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers contract expired June 30
  • Key issue is compensation for work distributed via new media
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Marathon talks between Hollywood's largest actors union and producers broke off early Saturday, with the Screen Actors Guild saying it will ask its members to authorize a strike.

Screen Actors Guild members and supporters stage a rally in June at SAG's headquarters in Los Angeles, California.

Screen Actors Guild members and supporters stage a rally in June at SAG's headquarters in Los Angeles, California.

SAG's contract with Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expired June 30 with the two sides unable to agree on how actors would be paid when movies and TV shows are distributed through "new media," such as mobile phones and the Internet.

"As previously authorized by the national board of directors, we will now launch a full-scale education campaign in support of a strike authorization referendum," SAG said in a statement Saturday.

There was no mention of when a strike referendum might be called.

"Let's review the facts: SAG is the only major Hollywood guild that has failed to negotiate a labor deal in 2008," the producers' group said in a Saturday statement. "Now, SAG is bizarrely asking its members to bail out the failed negotiating strategy with a strike vote -- at a time of historic economic crisis. The tone-deafness of SAG is stunning."

SAG and AMPTP representatives came together under the guidance of a federal mediator Thursday for their first talks since July. The effort ended at 1 a.m. Saturday after 27 hours of talks.

The producers' alliance has demanded that SAG accept terms similar to those in contracts concluded over the past year with six other unions representing writers, directors, stagehands, casting directors and a smaller actors union.

"Taken together, these six new labor agreements will keep our industry at work, allow producers to experiment with new media, and give everyone in our industry a stake in the success of new and emerging markets," the producers' group said Wednesday.

The SAG statement suggested that a strike authorization would not immediately trigger a walkout but would strengthen the actors' bargaining position.

"Now it's time for SAG members to stand united and empower the national negotiating committee to bargain with the strength of a possible work stoppage behind them," it said.

SAG's board of directors voted last month to ask for a federal mediator to help with the negotiations. At the same board meeting, it authorized a strike referendum in the event the mediation effort failed.

Approval of a strike referendum, which requires the support of 75 percent of SAG's members, is not a foregone conclusion because Hollywood is still recovering from a costly writers strike that dragged on for 100 days just a year ago.

SAG's 120,000-plus members include many who no longer pursue acting jobs or who work only occasionally. A member who joined after having just one line in one show has a vote equal to Hollywood's highest-paid stars, as long as his or her annual dues are paid.

All About Screen Actors GuildAlliance of Motion Picture and Television ProducersLabor Strikes and Disputes

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