SAG president doesn´t want to hear strike talk

LOS ANGELES The head of the Screen Actors Guild doesn’t want to hear the s-word as a deadline for contract expiration looms.

"We have taken no steps to initiate a strike authorization vote by the members of Screen Actors Guild," Union President Alan Rosenberg said in a statement Sunday. "Any talk about a strike or a management lockout at this point is simply a distraction." The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has taken out an advertisement in trade publications calling a strike "harmful and unnecessary." Citing $2.8 billion in lost wages, the ad says, "We’ve completed four equitable and forward-thinking labor agreements. Let’s get the fifth done." The ad is scheduled to run in Monday’s editions of Variety and Hollywood Reporter. "The industry is shutting down because SAG’s Hollywood leadership insisted on 11th-hour negotiations and dragging these talks into July so they can continue attacking AFTRA," AMPTP spokesman Jesse Hiestand said in a statement. The contract runs out at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Anxiety has been growing in Hollywood that actors might walk off the job or studios could lock out performers on the heels of a Writers Guild of America strike that devastated production from November through February. SAG leaders have been fighting a deal reached between producers and another actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Vote results among that union’s 70,000 members are due July 8. AFTRA and the 120,000-member SAG have 44,000 members in common. SAG leaders are urging its members in AFTRA to vote against the deal, saying they can strike a better bargain with producers if the contract is defeated. SAG has said it is willing to continue talks with producers after its own contract expires. "The Screen Actors Guild national negotiating committee is coming to the bargaining table every day in good faith to negotiate a fair contract for actors," Rosenberg said. (AP) ______ Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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