Voices of discontent, and disinformation: The Ol Dog’s response to that V/O letter to SAG President Alan Rosenberg and the board.
The Following is an email sent to President Alan Rosenberg and the SAG Board. It was sent by a group of SAG members who identify themselves as “Coalition of SAG Performers for a National Union!” What they fail to mention is that they are primarily a coalition of voice-over actors. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you’d think that they might mention it.
As usual, the Ol’ Dog has added a couple of clarifying comments.
—–Original Message—– From: Keri Tombazian
Sent: Monday, November 14, 2005 3:00 PM
Subject: FW: The following letter was sent to Alan Rosenberg & SAG Board Officers today – feel free to forward…
—— Forwarded Message
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 10:11:30 -0800
Subject: The following letter was sent to Alan Rosenberg & SAG Board Officers today – feel free to forward…
Fellow SAG Performers, The attached letter was send to Alan Rosenberg SAG Prexy and his Board Officers today. Feel free to forward this to other concerned SAG performers. We urge you to also draft and send your own letters of concern; if you do, please CC: firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy. We will contact you shortly about actions coming up in the near future. Thanks for your support.
Coalition of SAG Performers for a National Union
email@example.com (323) 692-2885
Monday, November 14, 2005
Alan Rosenberg, President
Screen Actors Guild
5757 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Alan; We, the undersigned Hollywood SAG members collectively earn over $10,000,000 annually under the SAG TV/Theatrical, Commercial, Animation, and Interactive agreements.
By starting their letter flashing their bankrolls, my fellow voice-over performers seem to be indicating that their infusion of money into SAG coffers somehow makes their voices more entitled to be heard than their fellow members who have not been as successful! The truth is that THEY have not generated money to SAG, but rather SAG has generated money to THEM! It’s not like THE WORK WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN DONE, or other members wouldn’t have done the work, if they hadn’t been available. Successful SAG members must never forget that if it weren’t for the collective bargaining power of all our members, they would have to settle for whatever table scraps employers deigned to pay them.
We are writing to you to express our concern over issues that have emerged since the recent SAG election. It is with alarm that we see the same Membership First players who took us out on strike in 2000, again staffing the Commercial Performers Committee.
Along with a little humility, I would also suggest that those who authored this letter do a little homework, before repeating political propaganda with no basis in truth. Here are a few facts: The Coalition of SAG Performers for a National Union might want to digest before repeating unsubstantiated “strike” lies concerning Membership First. The fact is, not only did the 26-member 2000 negotiating team, only 7 of which have any relationship to Membership First, vote unanimously to go on strike. Their recommendation was passed unanimously by over 200 members of the joint AFTRA/SAG boards, and then was overwhelmingly approved by the membership. Five months into the strike, the vote to remain on strike was again passed unanimously–and in fact the vote to end the strike was virtually unanimous. The facts are irrefutable. In fact that is why those making their bogus charges have never bothered to try and refute them. “When confronted by the truth, they stand by the lie!” Now, if any of the signatories to this letter have any documentation contrary to that posted above, then produce it. In the meantime, as long as you continue to spout blatant lies, you will deservedly lose credibility with SAG’s membership.
We ask that the Negotiating Committee be selected to reflect all perspectives regarding this important contract and that the outcome not be predetermined.
One can only doubt the sincerity of this request, since according to David Jolliffe, the Chairman of the Committee, NOT ONE of the signatories to this letter has asked to be on the committee. Perhaps instead of spending their time complaining in an ill-informed letter to our guild’s president, they should take the time to get in touch with Mr. Jolliffe at SAG– and ask how they can best serve. Mr. Jolliffe has stated:
We are witnessing numerous election challenges based on SAG Board members’ association with an alleged spammer and the alleged spamming of SAG members & Staff during electoral processes.
The irony here is that the voice-over senders of this letter have used a “professional” spammer coalitionuion.com to forward their message condemning a fellow SAG member for basically doing what they are doing. Only the person they’re unjustly charging with unlawful spamming didn’t use a professional spammer but prevailed on a friend with the proper software to forward his emails. Hmmm, I wonder how these voice actors accumulated so many emails that they required the services of a “professional” spammer? Okay, the Ol’ Dog is being a tad facetious to make a point. Anyone without the proper software who has a large accumulated email list needs someone to help disseminate that email! Just as those V/O performers who sent this email! And just as those being unjustly charged in the Vulich case.
We ask that these charges be considered seriously and not ignored by the Elections Committee before they are referred to the Department of Labor for adjudication and our union’s credibility further damaged in the industry.
Apparently, no one has bothered to inform these folks that those spammer charges have already been filed with the Department of Labor. When informed by the DOL that SAG’s spammer charges against Vulich, a makeup artist, would be denied, and given the opportunity to withdraw their charges, SAG General Counsel David White did so. Unfortunately, after all the hype in the press, he was apparently too embarrassed to inform the membership of his DOL Debacle.
We hear that the Board is considering enforcing Rule 16G which would be suicidal for SAG. In order to keep working, the vast majority of Hollywood’s 5,000 working actors would reject the union in favor of their agents who get them work.
Enforcing our rules would be suicidal? These people just don’t get it. To the contrary, not enforcing them is what would be suicidal. Look what ignoring the rules has done for financially strapped AFTRA and their tottering Pension and Health plan. Now, among the most outrageous baseless statements in this letter, their Rule 16 declaration is the most harmful to our union. They proclaim in defiance of SAG history and with absolutely no factual evidence to back it up “that in order to keep working, the vast majority of Hollywood’s working actors would reject the union in favor of their agents that get them work.” (First off agents DON’T GET YOU WORK! You get it! Are they helpful, of course! Are many of them good folks? Yes! Will most of them drop you if you go long enough without getting work? Hello? Has anyone of them offered you a pension and health plan lately? Oh, and tomorrow why don’t you go down and check out their friendly credit union. Hey, how about this, why don’t you go to them and ask them to front you a couple of grand because you are upon hard times! Yeah, right!)
Oh, by the way, SAG held several meetings with high-profile members on this subject, and in all those meetings only two borderline high-profile members indicated that they would choose their agents. Therefore,the statement about 5000 members deserting their union to keep working, is most likely engendered by what is known as the Farrell Syndrome, Projecting ones traits and tendencies onto others. And it is just more of the RR/USAN fear mongering that is easily shot down by the 2000 strike. Except for a handful of scabs, 120,000 members did not “reject their union in favor of their employers–that ACTUALLY EMPLOY THEM!” It also brings into question the loyalty to SAG of anyone who would make such a statement. Surely, the signatories of this letter would not accuse 5000 of their fellow SAG members of doing something that they would not do.
Before any action is taken we ask that an outside company survey SAG actors vested in the Medical Plan about their opinions & intentions regarding the franchise issue, and that the results be promulgated publicly and reviewed by the Board.
Hello! We’ve already had something better than an outside survey. It was a democratic Referendum, and the membership made their voices heard loud and clear on the agency issue. Fortunately, we now have a president that will act on their wishes and enforce our rules before it’s too late.
We recently witnessed the firings of SAG executive staff again — gestures which will cost us millions of dollars in members’ dues, possibly putting the Board in breach of its fiduciary duty and precluding SAG from finding quality executive leadership in the future.
The statement that the firing of Ex-NED Hessinger will cost us $ millions of dollars in dues money is only supposition at this point since no suit has been filed. However should one be filed, any responsibility of wasted dues money would be the responsibility of the previous RR/USAN Board that saddled us with Mr. Hessinger’s unprecedented carte blanch FOUR-YEAR contract that took away our boards duly authorized powers–and subjugated members constitutional and federal rights to a paid staff member!
Once again, I would suggest that all of you who have signed the letter to President Rosenberg read the constitution. If you did, you would see that according to Article V of the SAG Constitution, the highest and final authority on what goes on in our union belongs to our National Board and it cannot be abrogated to any member of staff! To do so would violate federal labor law enabling one group of leaders to irrevocably impose their power over future leaders, as was attempted in this case.
RR/USAN board members who saw the writing on the wall hired Mr. Hessinger (at the behest of departing SAG CEO and current producers’ front man, Bob Pisano) to a Four Year contract just a few months before their anticipated political demise (the writing was on the wall after their decimation in the previous Hollywood election.) in order to have their “go-along-to-get-along” guy in through the next TV/Theatrical negotiations. And in doing so, they tried to abrogate three future boards ability to make important decisions concerning SAG’s future, including the hiring of senior staff to help us negotiate fair contracts.
They tried to give NED Hessinger the autonomy to disregard the wishes of future boards to challenge the hiring of such employees as ex co-head of the 2000 strike’s JPC Negotiating Committee, Joanne Kessler as SAG’s Executive Director of Commercials. (An indication of the forgiveness of her former employer Grey Advertising; they have taken back an employee that many less magnanimous advertisers might have considered a turncoat.)
We request that the probable costs to SAG of a protracted legal battle be carefully studied and a determination made as to whether or not it is in the best interest of the Guild & its members to engage in a battle with “winning” defined as avoiding legal and moral responsibility for binding contractual commitments that the union made and that these individuals relied upon.
I agree let’s have a study! But instead of limiting it to the Hessinger Firing let’s include what has gone on during the last four years under Pisano, Melissa and gang. Let’s find out why CEO Bob was instrumental in a profit sharing deal made between Netflix and the studios back in 2000, but neither SAG staff, or members, knew anything about it until it was revealed by the Bower/Wilson suit against HIM in 2004. And it would be nice to know how much as been wasted on the bogus Vulich lawsuit, and how much it will cost us because SAG General Counsel David White, under the direction of Bob Pisano, interjected us in a lawsuit not against the guild but against Pisano. Oh, and Let’s have a study on how much money was wasted on Consolidation. Let’s find out why we only had SIX senior staff members making over $100,000 when Pisano was hired and why at last count we have TWENTY-EIGHT!
And, perhaps, it can be explained why Pisano’s ballyhooed staff cuts resulted in 125 less employees but staff salaries from 2000/2001 NEARLY DOUBLED from $11,679,569 dollars to $20,166,347 dollars by 2003-2004. Ah, and, speaking of Hessinger let’s find out why at the last membership meeting, his justification for all the recent cutbacks in membership services was because of a lack of funds, while at the same time, he was in the process of hiring his cronies to multi-year contracts that would amount to over A MILLION DOLLARS!
OH, YES INDEED, LET’S HAVE A STUDY! BETTER YET, LET’S HAVE AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION
The 2000 Commercials strike helped to foster a now-permanent non-union Hollywood commercials industry resulting in less P&H and fewer jobs for SAG members something working members can attest to.
You know, to be honest, sometimes I think that you guys just set around and make this sh*t upor have it made up for you. In first place, SAG’s current commercial earnings are anticipated to be the highest in SAG history, $800 MILLION DOLLARS! And if SAG had not stood firm during the strike staving off the elimination of class “A” spots, and had not received a 140 percent increase in cable, our P&H would be in jeopardy–and that record-breaking $800 Million dollars would more than likely be in the neighborhood of $500/600 Million dollars.
Never before in the history of commercial production has a producer been able to so easily find non-union commercial talent agents, non-union casting houses, and a burgeoning non-union and financial core workforce of performers — all heartily grown as an answer to our commercials strike.
As to the reason for more non-union work taking place, I would suggest that perhaps those of the V/O community take a close look inward for the solution to that one. What with AFTRA’s complacent attitude toward their members doing non-union work, and the advent of ISDN lines were members can do non-union voice work in the secrecy of their homes is it any wonder that non-union work has increased. Here is what AFTRA’s Hollywood President Ron Morgan stated about AFTRA members doing non-union work! “As you know the No Contract, No work’ rule at AFTRA is related to scripted entertainment!” Apparently, Mr. Morgan and many AFTRA members have a different membership card than the one issued to me. It reads: “Do not work for non-signatory producers.”
The advertising, broadcasting, motion picture, and retail industries are itching for us to strike again, allowing them another chance to destroy union commercial production once and for all.
The only itching going on here is from members that are willing accept any thing employers offer just as long as they can keep making their scratch! Does anyone seriously believe our employers are itching for a strike? Hey, if they really wanted to destroy our union all they have to do is stop hiring us–and get all that “easily found” non-union talent!
Do not do what so many leaders do: surround yourself with the monotone of one opinion.
Oh, I get it, you mean like Melissa Gilbert and John Connolly.
Meet with us, the working members of this venerable union; ask our opinions; ask us what working SAG actors are saying today in casting offices and agents’ waiting rooms about this Board and our union. Sadly they are talking about going financial core and suing the Guild — actions that would be destructive to the trade union movement for performers.
Yes, Mr. President, by all means, meet with them, and ask them to justify some of their outrageous, unsubstantiated charges about the strike and those 5000 members rejecting SAG for their agents and all the rest. In fact, better yet, have an informational meeting and let them address their concerns to the membership and let us respond to their claim that we will desert our union for our agents. I got a feeling that you’d have TWENTY THREE NO-SHOWS. Let’s face it, if the true intention of this letter was a meeting with SAG’s New President all they would have had to do is send him a letter with nothing more than the above paragraph. I know individual members who have not found it necessary to flash their bankrolls, and they had personal meetings with Alan. He’s a good man. And a fair man! And very accesible. Of course this VO letter has very little to do with meeting him, but is rather a piece of propaganda used on websites, emails and the press to attack their political adversaries and new SAG Leaders. Yes, financial core is a problem that needs to be addressed, but it has nothing to do with SAG’s new leadership, and to infer differently is disingenuous! As to membership suing SAG that generally only happens when the leadership circumvents members rights-and is something that Alan Rosenberg and the new leadership will never do. Hopefully with the exodus of Restore Respect leadership, and barring their return, those days are over.
Alan, we ask you to act with temperance & caution and advise your Board majority to do the same. It would be a crippling embarrassment to this union and its leadership if the membership were to withhold its support of Board calls-to-action.
To be perfectly blunt, for the authors of this letter to publicly make such a suggestion is what’s embarrassing! Think about it, folks, before Melissa and her crowd came into power had you ever heard any SAG leaders, or members, suggest in the press that SAG members would desert their union for either their agents or employers. It’s the kind of crap that makes it even more difficult for the rest of us that are willing to stand up in solidarity to ensure our rights!
As is required by SAG policy upon request, we ask that you include this letter in the Board packets for the next Hollywood Board meeting, the next meeting of the N.E.C., and the next meeting of the National SAG Board.
This is a great idea, I think that their words should be part of the record! As a voice-over performer, I can only say that I am proud that my name is not among them.
Sincerely,Coalition of SAG Performers for a National Union
(Please see signature pages that follow.)
Ben Patrick Johnson
Randy Robert West
Steven Jay Kaplan
*Formatting for this post is SW’s!