LOS ANGELES -- Talks between the Screen Actors Guild and the movie studios broke down early Sunday, and the actors' union says it plans an education campaign to lead up to a strike authorization from its members.
Both sides said early Sunday that talks broke down at 1 a.m., two days after the group of the largest media companies and the predominate actors union started talking under the mediation of a federal referee.
The union issued a statement saying "now it's time for SAG members to stand united and empower the national negotiating committee to bargain with the strength of a possible work stoppage behind them."
SAG's statement said the 122,000-strong union "remains committed to avoiding a strike, but now more than ever we cannot allow our employers to experiment with our careers." The union is unhappy that the studios and producers are offering unfavorable terms on new media projects, such as Internet webisodes.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major studios, blasted SAG as "the only major Hollywood guild that has failed to negotiate a labor deal in 2008.
"Now, SAG is bizarrely asking its members to bail out the failed negotiating strategy with a strike vote -- at a time of historic economic crisis," the AMPTP said in a statement. "The tone deafness of SAG is stunning."
Major studios in AMPTP include CBS/Viacom, MGM, NBC/Universal, News Corp./Fox, Paramount, Sony, Walt Disney and Warner Bros.
The union said it has not set a date for its members to vote on a strike authorization. Such a walkout would be the second major Hollywood strike in 13 months.
The Writers Guild strike that began Nov. 5 of last year cost the Southern California economy as much as $2 billion, according to economist Jack Kyser, before it ended after 100 days.