A civil war has broken out at Hollywood's biggest union with rising discontent among its members over whether the union should launch a strike early next year under the faltering economy.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG), which represents 120,000 actors mostly in Los Angeles and New York, is spending more than 100,000 U.S. dollars on an "education campaign" to muster support for a strike authorization vote in coming weeks.
But the campaign is facing mounting opposition from many of the union's own members, who question the wisdom of holding a strike vote in the midst of a deep recession, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
SAG leaders in Los Angeles say the vote is necessary to give them leverage when negotiating with major studios. The two sides have failed to reach a new three-year contract deal in the past months due to sharp differences over how actors should be compensated in the digital era.
The tensions within the union reached a tipping point last week when SAG's New York division publicly took the unusual step of calling on the union leadership to cancel the planned strike authorization vote, citing the deteriorating economy.
During a town hall meeting in Manhattan Monday night, SAG leaders faced a near-open revolt from New York division members, according to the Los Angeles Times report.
Actors remained more divided than ever over the strike authorization vote after the three-hour meeting, where New York members lambasted the union's leadership for its handling of the contract negotiations, the report said.
Actor Alec Baldwin reportedly said after he left the New York meeting that the current leadership had failed and should step down from the negotiating committee.
However, SAG President Alan Rosenberg said after the meeting that he remains just as determined as ever to hold a strike authorization vote.