The nuclear labor plume at left is presented a little closer to actual size this morning, the start of the first full day without the specter of strike hell exhaling waves of rancid breath over Hollywood. Not that AFTRA's ratification of its prime-time contract Monday evening vanquishes the SAG threat altogether; the 62.4% tally in favor of AFTRA's deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers suggests that while a strike vote might fail, SAG leadership convinced probably upwards of 10,000 AFTRA members to stand down in the pitched battle between unions.
That's a lot under any circumstances (most contracts pass with at least 90% approval). But while it's not likely enough to get the studios to sweeten its offer to SAG, it is enough for the union leaders to have one last healthy, fun whack at each other, starting with SAG boss Alan Rosenberg:
Clearly many Screen Actors Guild members responded to our education and outreach campaign and voted against the inadequate AFTRA agreement. We knew AFTRA would appeal to its many AFTRA-only members, who are news people, sportscasters and DJs, to pass the tentative agreement covering acting jobs. ...
Screen Actors Guild is the actors union with more than 95% of the work under this contract, jurisdiction over all motion pictures, and over 4 billion dollars in member earnings under the SAG agreement over just the last three years. ...
We will continue to address the issues of importance to actors that AFTRA left on the table and we remain committed to achieving a fair contract for SAG actors.
AFTRA president Roberta Reardon was a little more constructive, calling for more collaboration and advance talks before future negotiations — but not before claiming a "moral victory" and punching Rosenberg squarely in his prop-shop codpiece:
Clearly, this was not a typical ratification process, and it would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise. To those of us for whom labor solidarity is more than just a slogan, the idea that politically-motivated leaders of one union would use their members' dues to attack another union is unconscionable. Working people do not benefit when their union is under attack.
It's OK, Roberta — this crap has only been going on for 60 years now. Keep your mushroom clouds handy: Hollywood Strikewatch 2011, here we come!