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Hollywood actors union postpones strike authorization vote
24/12/2008 10:00

Hollywood's major actors union has decided to postpone a controversial vote among its members over whether to allow its leaders to call a strike after its failure to reach a new contract with major studios, a union leader said Monday.

In an email letter to the union's board members, Doug Allen, executive director of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), said leaders agreed to push back the strike authorization vote until after the board holds a special meeting on January 12.

He said the special meeting would "address the unfortunate division and restore consensus."

The union's 120,000 members, mostly in Los Angeles and New York, were earlier scheduled to vote on the planned strike referendum next month, with ballots going out on January 2.

If the authorization is affirmed by 75 percent of those members voting, SAG could then go on strike when its national board decides to do so.

But the decision to hold a strike authorization vote is facing mounting opposition from many of the union's own members, who question the wisdom of such a move in the midst of a deep economic recession.

More than 130 high-profile actors, including Tom Hanks, Robert Redford and George Clooney, have also urged the union's leadership to reconsider its decision.

However, the union's leadership said that a strike authorization vote is necessary to give them leverage in contract negotiations with Hollywood major studios that have stalled for months.

Nearly 100 famous actors, including Mel Gibson and former SAG President Ed Asner, have declared their support for the SAG leadership, the union said.

A strike by actors would become the second Hollywood strike in more than one year after the 100-day work stoppage by writers beginning on November 5 last year, which cost the Los Angeles area economy as much as US$2 billion and left tens of thousands of people jobless.