It's been awhile since we last told you that nothing had happened in the negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild and the studios. And now we're back to tell you that something is about to happen. We think. On Sunday, the actors union took two major steps forward in the process toward resolution (we hope) or a strike (we fear). First, the SAG board voted to have a federal mediator brought in to try to revive negotiations that stalled in June. SAG's board also has authorized a vote by all members on whether to strike if the mediation doesn't work.
Seventy-five percent of the union's 120,000 members would have to vote "yes" in order for the union to strike. The last time that happened, in 1980, the work stoppage lasted three months. It's even scarier this time, given that the industry was already hurt by the writers' strike earlier this year, and is at risk of even more troubles thanks to our terrible economy. An actors' strike might very well cripple the struggling industry. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
It doesn't seem like the time, in a struggling economy, to ask for even more than the writers ended up settling for back in February, before the economy completely tanked. (Hey! Is there any way we can blame the writers strike for our economic downturn? I mean, I know it's the banks who are being bailed out, but I'm looking for a creative new spin on it, since it gets a little tiring and depressing reading about bailouts and banks and mortgage companies every day.) But that's what it sounds like SAG is doing. Maybe they're just threats, though, and SAG will back down if mediation fails again. Or perhaps the union won't vote to strike. It would be nice to see a strike avoided at all costs. The industry -- not to mention our at-home and theatrical entertainment -- depends on it.