Strikers take their case on road

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Like a politician waging a national campaign, the leadership of the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television & Radio Artists has been taking its act on the road, going from city to city pushing resolutions to city councils in support of its 3-month-old strike.

The resolutions, offered up at city council hearings in Chicago, Los Angeles and most recently New York, call on mayors in each metropolis to stop issuing commercial film permits and to allow greater public access to those already issued so the unions can locate and picket those productions.

So far, resolutions have not been passed in either Chicago or Los Angeles.

"Unfortunately, they've been referred to committee," said John McGuire, associate national executive director of SAG. "In Chicago, a resolution of support and concern about what was going on for the actors in the strike was passed, but the actual proposal on permits was referred to committee."

In New York, the SAG/AFTRA resolution, which was supported by City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, was contested by the American Association of Advertising Agencies/Association of National Advertisers Joint Policy Committee on Broadcast Talent Union Relations, the group that represents advertisers, and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers.

HURTING `WORKING PEOPLE'?

"For each actor on the set, there are 50 crew members and production employees who are hired locally," wrote AICP President Matt Miller in a letter to Mr. Vallone. "Your resolution is one that would hurt far more working people than it is intended to help."

The crew members who would be affected are all members of other unions, such as the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees. According to one union member who wished to remain anonymous, New York IATSE Local 52, which represents grips and electricians, sent a letter to members recently warning them that SAG/AFTRA might expand the strike into 2001 when its movie and TV contract comes due.

The prolonged strike has created friction between the actors union and their members, including high-profile union members such as Tiger Woods, Britney Spears and pop music group 'N Sync, all of whom have appeared in commercials shot in Canada, as well as with members of sibling unions.

"What does it have to do with us? Nothing. We're workers," said a prominent business agent of a Los Angeles IATSE local. "I believe it is the beginning of the end, because when SAG and AFTRA go on strike for movies and television, it will be more of the same. It's the little guy, the crew guys who suffer the most. We don't get the residuals that actors get."

"This strike has an impact on other unions. We are very aware and concerned about it," Mr. McGuire responded. "We are trying to find solutions to it."

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