Retailers Anxious About Actor’s Strike

LOS ANGELES — As the Screen Actors Guild moves closer toward a strike, footwear retailers said the financial impact on Southern California could be devastating to the region’s already calamitous economy.

“I don’t even want to think about that,” said Los Angelesbased Sportie LA co-owner Isack Fadlon. “We bounced back after the writers’ strike, but it was hard. A SAG strike would definitely hurt.”

“I try to talk to all the actors I know and tell them how foolish it would be to do that right now,” added David Jassem, president of David’s Shoe Salon, which has four locations in the Los Angeles area. “That kind of impact on the economy would be very negative, and they’d have a lot of bad will toward them.”

For months, SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have been at an impasse over the payment structure for performers in new media productions broadcast over the Internet. Other issues currently on the table relate to residual payments and changes to other long-standing contract provisions.

On Nov. 22, SAG issued a statement indicating that negotiations with the AMPTP had failed, despite the intervention of a federal mediator.

Strike authorization ballots are scheduled to be mailed to the union’s 120,000 members on Jan. 2, with the results tabulated on Jan. 23. A strike authorization requires 75 percent approval of members and would empower SAG’s national board of directors to call a strike, if it is deemed necessary.

Since much of Southern California’s economy is fueled by the entertainment industry, any disruption to commercial, television and fi lm production could have disastrous economic implications.

For example, the Writers Guild of America’s strike, which lasted from Nov. 5, 2007, to Feb. 12, 2008, had a devastating effect on many retailers and restaurants in and around the Los Angeles area.

And while estimates vary, the economic impact to Los Angeles alone is pegged somewhere between $380 million and $2.1 billion.

In fact, for many retailers, that strike was the beginning of a downward sales trend that has yet to turn around.

“The writers’ strike had a huge impact on our economy, and it started the snowball with [falling] housing prices [here],” said Jassem.

Mark Goldstein, owner of seven Madison stores, as well as the high-end women’s shoe boutique Diavolina, agreed. “We’ve already been in a recession for a year, [beginning with the writers’ strike],” he said.

Jassem last week called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to intercede and use his political clout and long history in the entertainment industry to avert a strike.

“One of the things that Arnold should be doing is acting as an intermediary with the actors,” he said. “He has to make sure we do not have an actors’ strike. It would have such a huge impact on our economy.”

Fred Segal Feet owner Stanley Silver said that, for now, he was hoping that cooler heads would prevail and an amicable agreement could be reached. “They’d be foolish to do it, but it could happen,” he said. “Let’s hope for the best.”

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