Time to end actors strike

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The time has come for this strike to end. Call it fair pay or call it exorbitant pay, the deadlock over the salaries to be paid commercial actors has morphed into a battle of economic attrition, and the price -- in disrupted marketing plans for advertisers and personal hardship for actors -- is mounting. "Victory" is unlikely for either side, unless a total rupture followed by an industry attempt to impose terms is a desirable outcome. It is not.

The strike is already the longest in Hollywood history, and it is fueled by a Hollywood dream: The hope, by the leadership and members of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, that they can so disrupt the marketing system, and publicly embarrass enough advertisers, that the industry will acquiesce in a truly golden contract. With every passing week, it becomes harder for union leaders to justify a contract that is simply very good.

Impatience with the strike's inconveniences may be building in some advertiser quarters, but the industry has put some serious dollars on the table -- only to see union leaders opt for picket lines and boycotts aimed at high-profile marketers such as Procter & Gamble Co.

Capitulation by the national advertiser community seems unlikely despite the unions' success at signing some advertisers and agencies to "interim" agreements on the actors' terms. It's time for goals to be reassessed, for best offers to be put on the table and for a deal to be struck. Advertisers can't expect to offer actors a pay hike package as if they were unskilled hourly-wage workers. And union leaders need to look beyond their rhetoric to what is best for their members -- now -- and not throw out the good in pursuit of the unobtainable.

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