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There’s Good News about SAG’s Health Plan! Bonus Coverage: Canadian Actors Prepare to Strike. And former SAG President finds Calling.

April 19, 2006 (19:03) | 2006, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

Healthy health plan

SAG drops plan for tightening eligibility

By DAVE MCNARY

Hollywood actors will begin receiving upbeat news next week about their health plan — a marked contrast from the negative developments of recent years.

Trustees of the SAG Health Plan are due to announce elimination of a scheduled 5% hike in eligibility requirements, lowered eligibility for thesps over 40, improved benefits in the dental plan and easier access for performers covered by AFTRA’s plan. The 41,000 or so participants in the SAG plan will receive details of the changes through the plan’s Take 2 newsletter.

The moves come three years after trustees of the plan — jointly administered by reps of SAG and the Hollywood studios — were forced by skyrocketing medical costs to announce first-ever premiums plus another round of tightened eligibility floors and benefit reductions following the initial announcement in August 2001.

“In 2003, when the plan faced a major deficit that threatened its very existence, the trustees instituted a three-part plan: the participant premium, the eligibility escalator and a reduction in benefits,” the plan told participants. “While we still face double-digit increases in the cost of health care, the plan’s finances have stabilized.”

The improvements in finances also came from heightened employer contributions to the plan. Last year’s 1% hike in health and pension contributions through the film-TV pact increased revenues by an estimated $60 million over the contract’s three-year life.

Plan currently covers about 17,000 active earners, 5,500 retirees, 2,500 self-pay participants and 16,000 dependents. Participation has fallen by about 10,000 since the 2003 changes, with most of those opting out due to access to alternative coverage.

Trustees highlighted the lowered eligibility for thesps over 40, which drops the Plan II eligibility level from $13,790 in the four previous quarters to $10,000 in that period — if they’ve accumulated 10 years of eligibilty. The 10 years do not need to be consecutive.

“The trustees wanted to target the changes in eligibility where they would do the most good,” plan administrator Bruce Dow told Daily Variety. “Older actors who lose eligibility in this plan also face a significantly higher premium if they have to purchase private insurance.”

Other key changes going into effect next year include the following:

Previously scheduled 5% hikes in the eligibility levels for Plan I (currently at $28,120 in earnings in the four previous quarters) and Plan II (currently at $13,790 or 74 days of employment) have been eliminated.

The trustees have set a target of 3% annual hikes in eligibility but will not make that automatic for 2008, pending a decision next July.
Dental benefits will be increased, with the annual maximum rising to $2,500 from $1,500 under Plan I and to $1,000 from $500 under Plan II.
The SAG plan will act as the primary plan for covered participants who opt out of AFTRA’s health plan next year, when major hikes in eligibility and benefit cuts go into effect. The most notable change calls for AFTRA’s four-quarter earnings minimum to jump from the current $10,000 to $15,000 as of July 1 for the lowest tier of heath-care coverage.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117955295.html
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Although, it don’t happen a lot, it is a refreshing change to post strictly good news. It also highlights how SAG members get the short end of the P&H stick every time they to do an acting job under an AFTRA contract that should have been a SAG one! (Under AFTRA the accrual rate is less than half of that of the SAG plan, and the quarterly premiums as of next mouth will be four times as much as SAG’s.)

Hey, they reminds me I still haven’t done part two of the Susan Boyd memo in which she tells us how much better the AFTRA plan is.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

Canadian Actors Prepare to Strike. And former SAG President finds Calling.

Canadian Actors Prepare to Strike

Will SAG members walk the line with them?
December 07, 2006

By Lauren Horwitch

U.S. actors are already enjoying holiday down-time: TV series are on hiatus, film production has slowed, curtains are coming down on many plays, and thesps are making their way home to families eager to hear about their adventures in acting. Actors north of the border, however, are preparing for what could be a not-so-happy new year. Rocky contract negotiations between North American producers and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists are increasing the likelihood that ACTRA’s 21,000 members will go on strike early next year.

The Screen Actors Guild has pledged to support ACTRA, whose members refused work and set up picket lines during SAG’s commercials strike in 2000. In a Nov. 8 statement, SAG officials expressed their solidarity, stating the union would encourage its members to turn down work on U.S.-financed productions shooting in Canada and on productions relocated from Canada to the States or other countries.

But will SAG members follow orders if a Canadian strike ensues? Actors whose bank accounts have been badly bruised by runaway production to Canada might feel otherwise.

Broken Talks

Negotiations for ACTRA’s new Independent Production Agreement with U.S. and Canadian English-language producers (represented by the Canadian Film and Television Production Association) and Quebec producers (aligned with the Association des Producteurs de Films et de Tlvision du Qubec) began Oct. 23 but quickly derailed over the key issues of wages, residuals, and working conditions.

“We’re looking for equitable increases in minimum fees, better protection in terms of working conditions for performers, and improving use fees [residuals],” said ACTRA lead negotiator Stephen Waddell. To that end, ACTRA has asked for a 15 percent raise in minimum pay rates over three years and parity by 2006 with what SAG members are paid on big-budget shoots in Canada.

However, according to Waddell, CFTPA negotiators are not only rejecting an increase, they’re demanding that actors’ existing daily rates be reduced by 25 percent. Waddell said ACTRA’s current fees are already 23 percent behind SAG’s, not counting the exchange rate. The current minimum rate for a principal ACTRA actor is $565 Canadian per eight-hour day. Under SAG’s TV/Theatrical Agreement, a union dayplayer’s minimum rate is $737.

Waddell also pointed out that foreign producers are reaping the benefits of Canada’s generous production tax credits. “In response to the U.S. producers, we’re saying, ‘Hey, you already got a great deal here. Don’t be looking for more concessions from us.’ Our members are second to none and therefore should be paid equivalent to U.S. performers,” he said.

Canada’s production tax incentive program has indeed been good to that country’s economy. A report published earlier this year by the Center for Entertainment Industry Data and Research in Encino, Calif., showed feature film production in Canada grew from $430 million in 1998 (the year its tax incentive program was introduced) to $1.2 billion in 2005. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy has lost approximately $23 billion to runaway production.

However, said CFTPA head negotiator John Barrack, actors must remember that Canada is competing with lucrative tax programs in other countries and in U.S. states such as New York, Louisiana, and Arizona. “There’s no great incentive to come here. We’re in a very competitive global marketplace, and ACTRA needs to recognize that,” he said.

According to Barrack, the potential ACTRA strike is already scaring away major U.S. productions. “[The Untitled Pink Panther Sequel] was going to go to Montreal; it’s not going there. Disney was going to do [National Treasure II: The Book of Secrets]over a $100 million film in Toronto; it’s not going to happen.” As for the 25 percent pay rollback, Barrack said, CFTPA took that off the table long ago. “We did that well before we got here. We made a very conscious decision to unilaterally take a number of our proposals with respect to discounts off the table,” he said.

“That’s not true,” answered Waddell. “[Barrack] was prepared to withdraw that particular proposalprovided that we came up with a new business development plan that would provide additional incentives to attract work to Canada.” Those incentives were not specified in Barrack’s proposal. Waddell added that 25 percent rollback is one of 80 proposals submitted by CFTPA, many of which call for other reductions.

The ACTRA negotiator also insisted Canada’s tax incentive program is still superior to deals producers may find in the States: “As soon as you cross the border, you’ve got at least a 10 percent discount with respect to currency. If you’re a U.S. producer shooting in Canada, you get an 18 percent tax credit. So, you’re up to 28 percent…. Where can you get a better deal than that anywhere in the U.S.?” He added that the productions cited by Barrack never planned to shoot in Canada. “There’s no need for any production to leave Canada,” Waddell said. “All they have to do is sign a continuation letter with ACTRA and they’ll be protected.” By signing a continuation letter, a production shooting past the contract’s expiration date (Dec. 31) will be protected in the event of a strike provided the producer pays a 5 percent increase in rates and an extra 2 percent into actors’ pension and retirement funds.

Reactions Run the Gamut

One thing is certain: ACTRA members are ready to strike if necessary. “Without exception, every member that I have talked tois solidly in favor of the strong stand that we are taking,” Waddell said. “ACTRA members are returning their ballots [mailed out Nov. 15] in record numbers. We believe it’s going to be the highest return of any actor referendum ever.” The strike ballots are due Dec. 15. Having the support of SAG, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and other performers’ unions in the International Federation of Actors is key to the negotiator, especially because ACTRA assisted SAG on the frontlines during the 2000 commercials strike.

“We refused to provide services on any U.S. commercial that came into Canada to evade the strike. We set up picket lines around productions that tried to produce here,” Waddell noted. “And we even caught Tiger Woods doing Buick commercials in 2000, which he tried to do in London, Ontario. We informed SAG, and as a result of that, Tiger Woods was fined [$100,000].”

What’s more, SAG will be facing many of the same producers when the union renegotiates its TV/Theatrical and Commercials contracts in October 2008. Should SAG seek to strike on either of those pacts, it would certainly look to ACTRA for support.

Actor Suzanne Du Charme, who worked at SAG’s New York strike headquarters in 2000, said she wouldn’t accept work in Canada during an ACTRA strike. “We could not have held tough for so long without the support that we received from so many groups,” she wrote via email. “I think it only fair to support our fellow actors north of the border. I wish them a speedy resolution to their contract negotiations.”

Mother-daughter actors Donna and Christel Wright of Baxley, Ga., would also support their Canadian counterparts. “As much as we would love to finally get some paying jobs, we could never cross a picket line,” they wrote in an email to Back Stage. “We see no reason why we should wait to support our fellow actors. They’re fighting for our futures as much as theirs.”

But the issue was not as clear-cut for others. “It’s a double-edge sword for me,” wrote an actor named Donald, who requested to be identified by his first name only. “Yes, I would support SAG and not work in Canada, but I would not, in theory, support the strike itself. Living and being a working actor in New York City, I have seen over the past few years so much work go north.”

Another actor who requested anonymity said she wouldn’t support the Canadians because they are competition. “The Canadian actors were more than happy to take all the jobs on the new American-produced TV shows that were being done in Canada,” the actor wrote on an online message board. “Now the producers are running to Romania, Bulgaria, and Prague [Czech Republic]. What’s next, five years from now we support a strike of Romanian and Bulgarian actors?”

Pamm Fair, SAG’s deputy national executive director of policy and strategic planning, insisted the American and Canadian unions must have each other’s support to strike successfully.

“If SAG and ACTRA do not stick together, the alternative is for union members to take the jobs of their striking counterparts and providing a highly skilled talent pool. A strike is far less effective if workers can be replaced with skilled workers as opposed to amateurs,” she wrote in an email.

Waddell was disappointed when told of some of the American actors’ comments. “It’s based a lot on ignorance. Clearly, these people are not thinking as unionists, as they should be,” he said. “They should be supporting us because we’re fighting the good fight that they’re going to be up against in just about a year.”

December 8, 2006
Santa CRUZ

Applause for actress turned activist Melissa Gilbert

By JONDI GUMZ

Sentinel staff writer
Actress Melissa Gilbert told 300 women Friday that she wants to change the world.
She wants to make sure every child facing a life-threatening illness receives hospice care. Judging from the sold-out reception she received at the Cocoanut Grove, Santa Cruz will help her reach that goal.

Gilbert, famous for playing Laura on television’s “Little House on the Prairie,” has a new role: President of the Children’s Hospice & Palliative Care Coalition, which is based in Watsonville.

Wearing spike heels and a sophisticated geometric pattern dress accentuating her figure, she radiated Hollywood glamour. Members of the Santa Cruz Chamber Women in Business group, which had invited her to speak, lined up to meet her, cameras in hand.

“We grew up watching her on TV,” said Alicia Flores of Bay Federal Credit Union.

“My 9 year old is just starting to read the books,” added co-worker Dawn Wingert.
When Gilbert spoke, it was clear she has left behind the world of make-believe. At the same time, she’s using her celebrity to bring attention to her cause.

She mailed out “today is a gift have fun” and “only love” bracelets, designed by Zia Jewelry, formerly of Soquel, to her friends. The next thing she knew actor Johnny Depp a parent like Gilbert was wearing the bracelet. Proceeds from sales of the $45 bracelets go to fund music therapists, nurses and other hospice services for children and their families.

“This statistic just kills me 92 percent of kids die in uncontrolled pain,” Gilbert said. “That is unacceptable.”

When someone dies at an advanced age, family members are able to look back at the meaningful points in their life, but with infants and children, there is a “loss of the future,” explained Ann Pomper of Hospice Caring Project of Santa Cruz County.

Trained hospice workers can help families, creating memories for them, often with handprints or locks of hair.

In the past, parents had to choose between hospice care and aggressive treatment of disease, a choice that Gilbert lobbied in Sacramento to change.
What made an actress like Gilbert change her priorities? She credited Lori Butterworth of Santa Cruz.

Butterworth, who started a nonprofit in 1998 to help children cope with cancer and is co-founder of Children’s Hospice, met Gilbert at a party in Los Angeles and asked her to help.

Gilbert called her “the blond tornado who nailed me into a wall,” but she soon realized this job made more sense than being president of the Screen Actors Guild.

As a mother of a son born three months premature, she knew the heartbreak of the neonatal unit. She’s also convinced that supporting children who are very sick can help them get better.

Her involvement, she added, has changed her life.

“I don’t care about traffic, or broken vases, or fender-benders,” she said, explaining that those worries pale beside the needs of children facing death. “It’s extraordinary to be part of something that will change the world.”
Contact Jondi Gumz at jgumz@santacruzsentinel.com

HOW TO HELP
Bracelets, silver-plated or leather: $45 plus tax and shipping. Order online at www.childrenshospice.org.
Celebrity auction, with items donated by Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks, Mandy Moore and others, at www.childrenshospice.org.
Donations can be mailed to Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, 65 Nielson St. #108, Watsonville, CA 95076. The Packard Foundation will match every donation. For information, call 763-3070.

Formatting and Photo SW’s.

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Is IATSE’s Short in Bed with Counter’s AMPTP against Verrone’s WGA?

April 19, 2006 (19:03) | 2006, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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Writers Guild is criticized for contract tactic

Its leaders come under fire from a top entertainment union official for refusing to start negotiations early.

By Richard Verrier
Times Staff Writer

December 6, 2006

The guild representing Hollywood TV and film writers came under fire Tuesday from a top entertainment union official who accused its leaders of arrogance and incompetence for spurning studio overtures to negotiate a new contract early.

Thomas C. Short, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the umbrella group for an array of Hollywood craft unions, suggested that the decision would fuel uncertainty and destabilize Hollywood’s rank and file.

Short in particular was critical of Writers Guild of America, West, President Patric Verrone and Executive Director David Young, saying they acted irresponsibly in refusing to hold early contract negotiations. Short warned that the heightened tensions could eventually lead to a work slowdown in which “working families will not only lose their livelihoods but the work hours necessary to keep them eligible for health insurance, pensions and other [union] benefits.”

WOOF ! As the Old Dog was recently quoted in Backstage concerning SAG joining the ICC group along with Tom Short’s IATSE and nine other unions, “My problem is, they’re always going to want us to go for the lowest common denominator, because if we go on strike, it affects all of them. So it’s to their advantage to make sure that we never do anything to rock the boat.”

Short’s comments echo criticisms made by chief studio negotiator J. Nicholas Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture Television Producers, who had been pushing to start talks no later than January, nine months before the writers’ contract expires.

Both men contend that early negotiations ease strike fears, which in turn discourages studios from stockpiling scripts and accelerating production as a precautionary measure. Even when a walkout is averted, stockpiling can lead to a so-called de facto strike because studios are reluctant to launch new work until they have released the projects already on their shelves.

WOOF ! As legendary film mogul Lew Wasserman said, “A compliant union is a good union!” Under Mr. Short, IATSE ain’t just a good union, it’s a great union. (Lew would have liked this!)

Young called the predictions of a possible de facto strike a “boogeyman” and “scare tactic” aimed at intimidating union members. He said it was unfortunate that Short was siding with the studios on the issue.

In a recent e-mail to members, Verrone defended the guild’s negotiating strategy, saying he was skeptical that producers were serious about early negotiations and that the union was merely exercising its prerogative. The guild has proposed starting talks by next summer.

“The last thing we want is a strike, and we hope we won’t be pushed to that result by conglomerates that declare windfalls to Wall Street and plead poverty to us,” Verrone wrote.

Beyond the negotiating tactics, the WGA and Short have been feuding on another issue: who should represent storytellers on reality TV shows. Short’s alliance represents story editors who are crucial to the genre, and it has challenged the guild’s efforts to represent workers on those shows.

The WGA backed a strike this summer involving 12 workers from the CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” who sought to join the guild.

WOOF ! And Mr. Short immediately filled those spots with his members in what can only be characterized as De Facto Scabbing!

In his statement, Short said the WGA mishandled the organizing effort. Young fired back, accusing Short and his union of failing to show solidarity with the strikers.

“This is contrary to the most basic trade union principles in which we believe,” Young wrote.

The WGA has a complaint pending with the National Labor Relations Board that alleges the workers were illegally fired.

Separately, the show’s production and preproduction workers voted Monday to be represented by the alliance.

richard.verrier@latimes.com

Well, it seems that the old saying that “politics makes strange bedfellows” applies doubly when it comes to the entertainment business. Hey, Tom Short can get in bed with Nick Counter, ah, metaphorically speaking of course, that’s up to him, although it’s the Ol’ Dog’s opinion that the great IATSE membership deserves much better. What troubles the Old Dog is that SAG is getting into an even more crowed ICC bed with not only Tom Short, but John Connolly–and it ain’t a pretty picture.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

All formatting is the Ol’ Watchdog’s.

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Is SAG getting in too deep with the AFL-CIO?

April 19, 2006 (19:03) | 2006, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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SAG Strengthens Ties with National Labor

Is the Guild getting in too deep with the AFL-CIO?

December 04, 2006

By Lauren Horwitch
Backstage Magazine

For the past half-century, the Screen Actors Guild has been among one of the 53 member unions of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, a federation representing nearly 9 million workers including doctors and dockworkers. The AFL-CIO has largely provided support to SAG, offering assistance to actors during the Red scare of the 1950s and organizing SAG members for the commercials strike of 2000.

However, the Guild’s recent moves to strengthen its relationship with this umbrella organization have disturbed members who worry that SAG could jeopardize its independence and limit its ability to negotiate contracts on its own terms. Some SAG members have also objected to the more than $41,000 per year SAG pays to be affiliated with the AFL-CIO through SAG’s participation in the Associated Actors and Artists of America (the 4A’s).

WOOF !If indeed, it was only $41,000 dollars, there wouldn’t be a big objection. However, the amount that SAG actually funneled to the AFL-CIO for 2005 was considerably more: a little over *money 300, 000 Dollars through the 4A’s, and an additional *money 100,000 through other AFL-CIO organizations for a total of well over *money FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!

SAG announced two key decisions related to the AFL-CIO at the conclusion of its biannual two-day plenary meetings Oct. 21-22. One announcement was the national board’s unanimous appointment of AFL-CIO veteran Doug Allen, former assistant executive director of the National Football League Players Association, as SAG’s new national executive director. Allen is also founder and former secretary-treasurer of AFL-CIO affiliate the Federation of Professional Athletes, which organizes new areas in the sports industry.

Watchdogging the ICC

The other, and more contentious, decision was SAG’s declared intention to join a new AFL-CIO Industry Coordinating Committee called the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry ICC. The AFL-CIO’s website (www.aflcio.org) defines an ICC as a committee of unions within similar industries such as entertainment and media formed to “develop a strategic audit and analysis of their industry.” Ten other unions have agreed to participate in the AEMI-ICC so far, including Actors’ Equity Association, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Newspaper Guild, and the Office and Professional Employees International Union.

One of the chief responsibilities of an ICC is collective bargaining and, according to the AFL-CIO’s ICC guidelines, “establishing enforceable contract standards, which shall take into account such variables as first contracts, legitimate trade-offs, adverse economic conditions affecting particular employers, local labor market conditions, and differences among job classifications, crafts, and other classes within the industry.”

At the conclusion of the October plenary, SAG National President Alan Rosenberg said in a statement that joining the ICC will allow the Guild to “combine resources and coordinate strategy tactics [with other AEMI-ICC unions] to maximize our collective barganing power.” He added, “However, while we enter this experiment with high expectations, my fellow board members are adamant that Screen Actors Guild retain its own voice and autonomy within the ICC and how it operates.”

WOOF !To do that the principles of the ICC will have to be altered. Something the AFL-CIO was unwilling to do as a condition of SAG joining. In fact, they continue to stand firm that SAG will be bound by their decisions whether it joins or not.

The question is: Will SAG be able to maintain much autonomy when the union negotiates its contracts with employers, or will the Guild be beholden to the same contract standards set for electricians, key grips, and newspaper reporters?

Voiceover actor Arlin Miller, a longtime AFTRA and SAG member and editor of SAGWatchdog.com, isn’t thrilled that his unions will join the AEMI-ICC. “My objection is we’re going to be one of 11 guilds in here. Many of the guilds have nothing to do with our business,” he said. “When we negotiate with our employers, I don’t want the office workers telling me what to do.”

He has also asserted on his website that joining the ICC violates Article XVII (3.) of SAG’s constitution, which states SAG must have not only the consent of its national board but also 60 percent of its membership’s approval to join another membership organization such as the AEMI-ICC. “These things are just being ignored,” Miller said. “My problem is, they’re always going to want us to go for the lowest common denominator, because if we go on strike, it affects all of them. So it’s to their advantage to make sure that we never do anything to rock the boat.”

SAG national board alternate Sumi Haru represented the 4A’s on the AFL-CIO’s executive council from 1996 to 2002. Rosenberg took on that role Nov. 14. Even Haru has her doubts about the effectiveness of the Guild joining an ICC.

“The problem is, we only have one vote…. We could get outvoted on our negotiations or the way we are organizing,” Haru said. “So we’re going in knowing that Alan and our new executive director when he comes on board [in January] will need to negotiate to make sure those people cannot overrule in the jurisdiction that we have…. That’s kind of scary.”

However, she added, SAG’s board of directors can always choose to opt out of the AEMI-ICC if the situation gets too problematic.

Stephen Diamond, a professor at California’s Santa Clara University School of Law who has an extensive background in the labor movement, said Miller is “not altogether wrong for raising the issue.” But he pointed out that the AEMI-ICC is only the second ICC to be formed. (The first was an ICC for nurses.) Therefore it is yet to be determined what parameters will be set for the unions involved or to what degree those unions must adhere to the ICC’s strategies.

“If the votes go against SAG on an issue, in theory they could be bound by the decisions of the ICC,” Diamond said. “That’s what the founding principles provide. The actual terms of the AEMI-ICC have not been made public.”

WOOF ! Actually, they have been made public both on the Ol’ Watchdog, and on the AFL-CIO website http://www.aflcio.org/aboutus/thisistheaflcio/ecouncil/ec07222005a.cfm

Diamond emerged as the leading candidate to take SAG’s national executive director position which eventually went to Allen but the law professor withdrew his candidacy the day before a June board meeting scheduled to potentially select him. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Diamond backed out due to salary issues. Diamond declined to comment about his reasons for withdrawing his candidacy.

Haru agreed with Diamond and added, “I think [ICCs] are new, and we don’t know yet what is going to happen.” Miller, however, was skeptical of the wait-and-see position taken by Diamond and Haru. “Why get in it?” Miller said. “Nobody’s given me any value we get out of it. We give up our autonomy; we will be one in 11.”

However, SAG’s deputy national executive director for policy and strategic planning, Pamm Fair, said the Guild will certainly remain independent when negotiating its existing pacts. “It has nothing to do with our current contracts,” she said.

According to Fair, the purpose of the ICC is to more effectively organize the entertainment-industry unions before approaching employers who have not yet signed union contracts. For example, the AEMI-ICC unions would strategize on how to approach a cable company that broadcasts nonunion shows. “The goal would be that we would set rates for negotiating purposes across the board…. All participants of the ICC would agree on what our rates should be, what we’re going to bargain for,” she said. “We’d say, ‘Here’s what it should be for acting; here’s what it should be for camera operators.’ Each union, of course, is going to come up with what works in conjunction with its other contracts.”

WOOF !Actually, We (SAG)wouldn’t say what rates would be. They (ICC) would say what our rates would be. As too organizing new contracts, isn’t the entertainment industry changing so quickly that our employers are already questioning exactly what SAG’s jurisdiction covers? CBS is offering their shows on the Internet as promotions, while refusing to pay SAG members for that privilege! Do we really want to hand our future over to the AFL-CIO?

Regarding Miller’s assertion that joining the AEMI-ICC violates SAG’s constitution, Fair said, “An individual union’s constitution always trumps any other agreements; it has to…. Our constitution would always be lived up to and nothing in the [ICC principles] can trump a union’s constitution.”

WOOF !Then before joining the ICC, why didn’t we have a referendum as the constitution dictates?

Looking Ahead

Labor and employee-rights attorney Jeff Winikow said it’s usually problematic when a union loses some of its independence. “You’re tying your hands, and you’re going to be beholden to an AFL-CIO agenda that may reflect the wishes of the SAG members and it may not,” he said. “If [SAG is] losing their autonomy, then there are legitimate problems. If they can no longer carry out the goals and objectives of a bargaining committee because the AFL-CIO organization says no, then that’s going to be a problem.”

Winikow contended that organized labor has been headed downhill since the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged in 1955 and a weak AFL-CIO could hurt SAG when the union bargains its Commercials and TV/Theatrical contracts in October 2008.

“It’s an easy criticism that the interest of actors might not dovetail with dockworkers, but that’s part of the whole AFL-CIO approach: to find the commonality of workers,” Winikow said. “I can’t tell you what will be successful in bringing meaningful change to the terms and conditions of actors, but I don’t believe just the bargaining pressure and the bargaining power of actors is going to be sufficient to bring about change.” However, he added, “I don’t know that affiliation with the AFL-CIO is going to get the attention of Sumner Redstone.”

Haru, for one, thinks Rosenberg, in his new position, will carefully guard SAG’s independent voice. Melissa Gilbert, Rosenberg’s predecessor as SAG president, “didn’t talk much; she’s very quiet,” Haru said. “But I think Alan will be quite vocal and not only on actor issues but on [other] worker issues…. He will understand what his constituency wants and not go beyond that.”

WOOF !Unfortunately, just being vocal don’t cut it? How does the Old saying go “actions speak louder than words”, and in that light recent events concerning our president, things don’t look all that encouraging. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that if we get in too deep our president along with our new NED can pull us out before it’s too late.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

All formatting is SW’s!

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Former Hollywood AFTRA President Susan Boyd’s “Mean Ol’ Memo” attacking Dual Card Members, SAG Poaching, Contracts & leadership & the Ol’ Dog himself.

April 19, 2006 (19:03) | 2006, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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Memo to Performers in AFTRA and SAG re: 11/29 SAG Watchdog “Exclusive” Susan Boyd Joyce, SAG/AFTRA/AEA member

Here’s another perspective on a small but disturbing gathering November 28th in the AFTRA boardroom.

WOOF ! Disturbing in the fact that Ms. Boyd, John Connolly and some of the AFTRA leadership and staff are not used to members standing up for themselves.


” Yes, Virginia, there is another point of view. The Ol’ Dog is up to the same old tricks, and I for one am getting tired of seeing them.

WOOF ! Hmmm, it seems the only trick Ms. Boyd is interested in is for members to lay down and roll over.

The small but vocal political Hollywood faction of SAG members used their AFTRA cards to orchestrate a little guerilla theatre piece at the November 28th AFTRA LA Membership meeting.

WOOF ! This should give all SAG members and idea of where they stand in AFTRA. If they attend a membership meeting, and speak up, according to Ms. Boyd, they are not AFTRA members but, rather, SAG members using their AFTRA cards to disrupt proceedings with guerilla theatre . And actors wonder why they are getting screwed by AFTRA’s Leadership.

The piece, winningly entitled “Actors Revolt”, was meant to convince otherwise sane working union members that all would be well if only AFTRA would come to its senses. This small handful of dual card holders played the parts of loyal, concerned activists who just want a level playing field.

WOOF ! A level playing field which Ms. Boyd, stated on mike, that she was in favor of. But, but apparently that was just for show. It was apparent that those in attendance also agreed with those “guerillas” who spoke! Why didn’t Ms. Boyd express her true feelings at the meeting? Huh, it wouldn’t have gone well: Too many of those nasty Ol’ dual-card holders in attendance. Better that she say one thing at the meeting, and another in an email to those who weren’t in attendance. Hey, they weren’t there. All the better!


The script was well-worn, indeed Dog-eared. And it depended, as all passion plays do, on an audience who willingly suspended their disbelief in the interests of seeing “good” theatre.

WOOF ! Like I said, one may wonder, why, if Ms. Boyd was so offended by what transpired at the meeting, why didn’t she make her feelings known then, rather than waiting till later, to do so by email to those who weren’t in attendance. Ah, you think maybe, it was because those who spoke up for actors’ contracts not being low-balled by AFTRA were given unanimous support by attendees. *

“Membership-driven shot fired?” There was shooting to be sure. And it was certainly driven by the same “membership” who brought you General Service Agreements, commission on scale session payments in commercials, caps on background performers at all-time low rates, and cherry-picked union contracts. Play on, Dog! Let’s see if the script holds up.

WOOF ! This from the former local president of a union that caved in to agents (giving them everything they wanted) without EVEN giving their membership a chance to vote on it. As to TV/Theatrical and Commercials Contracts, the last time I checked they were mutually negotiated by SAG and AFTRA. And even though AFTRA only has a ten percent stake in the contracts, under Phase One, they get a FIFTY PERCENT say. That’s why so many members feel that Phase Two–should be to get rid of Phase One.

SAG would most certainly get better contracts if they did so. You only have to look at contracts that AFTRA negotiates on its own. They still have under five daytime rates, and their rate for radio spots is so low that all the top v/o agents had to create their own rates. It’s called LA Scale–which is nearly twice what actors would get if they had to depend on AFTRA scale.

99CVR17R: Translated, that means Convention Resolution 17, brought to the 1999 Convention by Kent McCord and others. As it was originally proposed, it was a thinly veiled attempt to hamper AFTRA’s organizing efforts in cable, which at the time was a wild west marketplace and almost entirely non-union. As finally revised, it was approved by the members at Convention, and it is the operating policy of the union. The fact is AFTRA has lived up to that standard. I question whether SAG has. The few network cable deals on the books today are union because AFTRA did the hard work and organized them.

WOOF ! Lived up to 99-CVR 17R? Yeah, that’s the reason SAG members complain when they have to work under an AFTRA contract. When was the last time you heard an actor complain because they had to work under a SAG contract–instead of an AFTRA contract?

The history of poaching is all in the telling. Ancient lore recalls a little thing called a situs agreement that was the horse trade of the century the original theft of AFTRA’s television prime time by SAG in the early 80’s. Before then taped shows, like “All in the Family”, “Different Strokes”, “Silver Spoons” were AFTRA shows. Now it’s a different story.

WOOF ! Actually, history proves that the big theft of the century was not of SAG taking actors jurisdiction from AFTRA, but vice versa. And that heist could be rectified soon. Stay Tuned to the Watchdog!

SAG later turned poaching into a fine art when Arsenio Hall had a talk show on the Paramount “film” lot. SAG signed it using strictly AFTRA terms and conditions, right down the line.

WOOF ! Unlike, AFTRA, which gains shows by, not only, taking money out of SAG’s members pockets, but also their own members pockets–by offering Producers 80 percent of scale and a residual giveaway. (See Previous Post)

SAG muscled the situs “agreement” into action although the jurisdiction was clearly and solely AFTRA’s.

WOOF ! This gal obviously hasn’t read the 4A’s Charters. Like I said, “Stay Tuned!”

More recently, when “South Park” came to AFTRA to negotiate a deal, SAG staff (directed by the Hollywood Firsters?) screamed foul. AFTRA ceded the jurisdiction, since SAG claimed “exclusive jurisdiction over animation.” SAG took back the show and failed to organize it. South Park, one of the top animated shows in prime time remains to this day non-union because of SAG’s failure.

WOOF ! Susan wants us to believe that they could organize “South Park” when they can’t even organize “The Best Damn Sports Show” which has been using AFTRA members right under their noses for the last several years. According to AFTRA’s Hollywood President, it’s like this boys and girls, they are waiting for the AFTRA members on that show to come to them and ask to make it an AFTRA Show. Hmmmand they wonder why they are having organizing problems. They’ve had a quarter of a century to organize CNN, a network under their jurisdiction, where AFTRA members like Larry King work non-union–and let’s not forget Fox News, non-union, and of course there’s MSNBC, where NBC union members walk across the hall and work non-union at MSNBC. How long do you think SAG would last, if Tom, Brad and Nicole, worked union at Universal and drove across Barham Blvd, and worked non-union at Warner Brothers. *

You think if AFTRA had Global Rule One like SAG, they might solve that problem real quick?

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

Part Two of Ms. Boyd’s Mean Ol’ Memo coming to a Watchdog near you soon.

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Watchdog Exclusive: Actors Revolt at AFTRA Membership Meeting!

April 19, 2006 (19:03) | 2006, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

No, it was not a full-fledged revolution at the AFTRA Membership meeting last night, but it may very well have been the first membership-driven shot fired, indicating the beginning of one.

The fact of the matter is, that actors are sick and tired of AFTRA’s actions in regards to poaching shows that would otherwise be covered by SAG.

There are good reasons for this. AFTRA contracts are usually inferior to SAG contracts: Whether it’s an under-five stipulation, or waivers like the one given to the producers of a recent dramatic pilot/series called “Darkness At Noon” aka “Hell On Wheels!” This was a sweetheart “deal” in which both SAG and AFTRA members, not only worked for 80% of current applicable minimum, but the first ten exhibit days during a one year period were given away.

As for most actors, the bulk of their work is under a SAG contract. When they have to go over to AFTRA to work for less money, it not only hurts their pocket books, but it also lessens their chances of qualifying for SAG Pension and Health by splitting their P&H contributions!!

And this was the issue at hand, when dual card holder and SAG board member Steve Barr put forth a motion to have AFTRA reaffirm a 1999 agreement between SAG and AFTRA entitled 99-CVR-17R which basically stipulates that neither union will low-ball the other.

99-CVR-17R

WHEREAS, actors and other performers will continue to be employed in both AFTRA and S.A.G. jurisdiction:

And WHEREAS, differences may exist in wages and working conditions between contracts;

BE IT RESOLVED that the unions make every effort to coordinate with each other to compare and understand the provisions existing in each others’ major contracts that may BENEFIT PERFORMERS;

And BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the unions seek to bargain provisions that benefit performers and, in their totality, raise terms and conditions for work under those contracts;

And BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be effective upon its adoption by the Screen Actors Guild.

Submitted by
Kent McCord
Toey Caldwell
David Jolliffe
Marji Martin
Paul Napier
Jacque Lynn Colton
Bob Carlson
Maureen Donnelly
Kathryn Christopher
Richard Masur
Ron Morgan
Russell McConnell
Kurt McCortney
Alice Backus

Those who spoke eloquently in favor of Mr. Barr’s motion included SAG Hollywood board members Kent McCord, David Jolliffe, George Coe, Terrence Beasor and David Sobolov.

The motion, already reaffirmed by SAG, passed unanimously. Which means it now goes before AFTRA’s Hollywood board. Where I imagine, it will most likely pass. I mean who would want to go on record against a motion that benefits most of its members. And then what? Probably nothing. AFTRA staff supported by AFTRA lawyers and in conjunction with AFTRA leadership, will most likely come up with a justification for continued AFTRA poaching.

The important thing, however, is that a shot has been fired across the bow of the AFTRA leader ship. Those in power have been forewarned that if they continue on their present dangerous course, there will be a full fledged revolt—one which could very likely sink AFTRA.

In another action, it was agreed upon by those members present to send to the AFTRA local board a motion to eliminate the local AFTRA nominating committee, an unfair process in which those on the committee can actually nominate themselves. This one, the Ol’ Dog predicts will not be passed by the local leadership. The reason for it’s predicted failure is that those in power are usually not apt to surrender anything that gives them a political edge.

Now, although the Ol’ Dog has described the actions at the membership meeting as the first steps of a revolt by AFTRA/SAG actors, this does not mean that the meeting was rowdy or vindictive. To the contrary, heartfelt opinions were expressed in a very civil detailed manner. And, it should also be noted that those speaking were treated with courtesy and patience by AFTRA’s Hollywood President Ron Morgan, who was chairing the meeting.

What blew the Ol’ Dog’s mind was, when I asked why AFTRA has yet to organize shows like “The Best Damn Sports Show” there was no reasonable answer. Nor was there one with regard to how AFTRA members are knowingly allowed to appear on this non-union show right under the noses of AFTRA’s leadership without anything being done. Neither Ron nor anyone else present, including staff, could answer my question with regard to the notation on the back of my AFTRA card which states very clearly, “Do not work for non-signatory producers,” when the truth of the matter is that those in the know realize that AFTRA not only allows such non-union work- but in many cases encourages it.

And this is why: Unless things change dramatically at AFTRA, unfortunately, I feel it’s doomed to extinction. How does the old saying go, “Why buy the cow, when you can milk it through the fence?”

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

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