As reported exclusively by the Ol’ Watchdog, there’s a power move afoot by John Sweeny’s AFL-CIO to try and pressure the Screen Actors Guild into joining a new committee that they’ve formed called the Industry Coordinating Committee. If our National Board was to allow this to happen, SAG would be bound by any strategy that THEY dictated including our contracts with employers–and organizing of actors! Under this power grab, they would also be able to tell us what other guilds with whom we could associate, i.e., The WGA and DGA.
And in what can only been seen as extortion, SAG has been threatened that if we don’t join this group, our jurisdiction over actors could be revoked by the 4A’s( Associated Actors and Artistes of America.)
Here’s the kicker, the word the Ol’ Dog has heard from several sources, is that John Connolly, Kim Hedgpeth and their legal staff already have their tongues hanging out in anticipation!
Now, before, anyone considers giving into any threat that the 4A’s might actually try such an audacious move–let’s take a look at this organization.
At best, the 4A’s is little more than a ceremonious association with ONE part time employee and an office located in the Equity Building.
It has five non-salaried officers including its President, Theodore Bikel; V.P. Carl Harms; Executive Secretary, SAG’s senior consultant, John McGuire; Treasurer, Thomas Jamerson; and V.P. Rod McKuen!
Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t see these guys telling SAG members that they must abandon our great guild for Equity, AFTRA or any other entity. Not only would they be buried in an avalanche of protest, but that one part-time employee might need a bit of help in dealing with the lawsuits and the Department of Labor.
And if, and when, that happens, AFTRA’s leadership could be facing a challenge to any jurisdiction they currently hold over actors. Especially in light of a ruling by the 4A’s in 1952 following SAG’s jurisdictional defeat of the Television Authority in NLRB ordered elections.
Following those elections, The 4A’s ordered that Jurisdiction is hereby confirmed in SAG over all actors (including singers, announcers, stunt men, and airplane pilots) employed in the motion picture field including, without limitation, all motion pictures produced for use over television… AFRA then merged with the Television Authority to become AFTRA, and gained jurisdiction over LIVE television!
If there is any jurisdictional dispute here, and AFTRA wants to play hardball, it does not bode well for them, since according to documentation, it was only granted jurisdiction of LIVE Television.
So, what should SAG do?
First off, we should never be intimidated into giving up our autonomy! Even, if it means leaving the AFL-CIO. Mr. Sweeny, and his group, are the recipient of $400,000 of your dues dollars annually, while another $100,000 is handed over to the 4A’s!
And what have they done for us lately? Ah, right! In fact, I have been told that when a request was made to them to use their constitutions’ Article XX (Settlement of Internal Disputes)to stop AFTRA from low-balling SAG contracts, they refused!
If our National Board is not unanimous in rejecting this take-over proposal, then it should be taken to the membership in referendum. And when our membership rejects it, AND THEY WILL, it would be an act of futility for the 4A’s, or anyone else, to deny the will of our membership when it comes to what guild they want to represent them!
Following the referendum’s rejection of the AFL-CIO’s proposal, SAG should do what it did in the Fifties, petition the DOL for elections–and let actors decide which union, they want to represent them in both Filmed productions and Live TV–SAG or AFTRA?
In 1952, SAG won 12 out of those 13 elections. This time it would be a slam-dunk. And we would finally have, what we have all wanted, All actors under one roof!
Hopefully, by then, Kim, John and his followers’ tongues will no longer be hanging out, because I’d sure hate to see them bite them off!
A.L Miller SW Editor & Chief
A special thanks to our Membership First National Board Heroes who, temporarily at least, managed to stop this take-over at our last plenary–when SAG Senior Consultant John McGuire, who helped form this AFL-CIO Power Grab, tried to slip it by our National Board with a “There’s No Time to scrutinize it. It has to be passed now!” It wasn’t! Thanks, guys and gals, for giving us time to let the membership know what they are trying to pull– hopefully the USAN Leadership will join them in a show of solidarity to nip this power grab in the bud. ! (It is my understanding that ALL Membership First Members oppose this take-over, with one notable acceptation! At this point, there has been no indication where the USAN Leadership stands on this issue!)
If I am mistaken on the above, please let me now! And if there are any of our elected leaders, or senior staff, who would like to speak out in favor of The AFL-CIO’s AEMI/ICC project, I will post your comments, UNEDITED!! )
Thanks to Terrence Beasor who helped with much of the research on this article. Also thanks to all of you that have responded to these series of articles. It is reassuring to the Ol’ Dog that you feel as passionate about SAG Keeping its Autonomy as I do!
All your responses can be summed up pretty well by an email that said,
“We MUST fight this!!!!!!!!!!!”