THE ENEMY WITHIN: Agents For AFTRA Undermining SAG and its membership. (You aren’t gonna believe the AFTRA propaganda posted on the SAG website.)
Make no doubt about it, there are agents working for AFTRA that currently serve on SAG’s board. Their only mission seems to be serving the agenda of AFTRA. They push for the continuation of Phase one, which gives AFTRA observers a FIFTY PERCENT say on SAG Contracts.
These AFTRA loyalists, in SAG clothing, defend AFTRA Contracts, which undercut SAG minimums and take away actors residuals. And they push for merger even though SAG members have voted it down two times in the last ten years.
It is one thing for them to spout their pro-AFTRA rhetoric on AFTRA’s website, but when they use SAG members dues money to spout it on our SAG Website, it is time for our NED, President and SAG board to say enough is enough.
This pro AFTRA message is currently being imposed on SAG’s membership by two of these AFTRA Loyalist in SAG clothing.
The following message, sans Watchdog responses, is currently on the SAG Portland Website.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
JOINT MESSAGE FROM PORTLAND PRESIDENT AND NATIONAL BOARD MEMBER
by Robert Blanche, Portland Branch President and Mary McDonald-Lewis National Board Member
As you read this AFTRA propaganda, it might be helpful to know that these two SAG board members might have another agenda in this post rather than representing SAG members interest.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Robert Blanche, Portland Branch President, and Mary McDonald-Lewis, your Portland National Board Member, have merged forces to write you this letter.
We hope this communiqu finds you well. As you know, the landscape of working as a performer is changing more rapidly than ever, thanks to technology allowing content to be delivered in a wide array of means, and to State and Federal legislation creating daunting issues for the labor movement in general. Both present challenges for union members, both positive and negative, and both need extraordinarily focused attention, especially as we head into negotiations on a number of critical contracts beginning in 2008. Many of these contracts are jointly negotiated with our sister union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) under our longstanding Phase One Agreement.
That’s why we believe the letter published in the last edition of Screen Actor Magazine, authored by our National Executive Director Doug Allen we believe at the behest of National President Alan Rosenberg, and with the support of the Hollywood Division of the SAG National Board, is absolutely a step in the wrong direction.
Excuse me, but, I really don’t care to hear what these two have to say on my dime. They can spread their AFTRA propaganda on the AFTRA Website, or get their own website at their own expense.
What Mr. Allen’s letter does, at best, is distract us from the clear and present danger in the contract negotiations that lie ahead. At worst, it instigates a civil war with AFTRA, threatening Phase One and almost ensuring unsuccessful negotiations in contracts. That means your livelihoods are at stake.
Yes, actors livelihoods are at stake but they are not at risk because of NED Doug Allen, President Rosenberg, or the Hollywood board, but from those like these two who support AFTRA in its undercutting of SAG rates and residual giveaways in order to pilfer SAG contracts to fill AFTRA’s coffers.
The letter focuses on differences in contracts offered to producers by SAG and AFTRA, with some attention given to both unions’ health and retirement packages. This letter is not complete in the least; presents biased information out of context, and compares apples to oranges to the degree that nothing of substance is proven. It seems bent on pitting SAG against AFTRA, intimating that AFTRA has undercut the Guild, and has been unwilling to cooperate with SAG.
Actually, the opposite is true. AFTRA has pitted itself against actors and SAG by low-balling their contracts and voting to leave the 4A’s in order to try and avoid their jurisdictional mandate which gives SAG jurisdiction over all acting on TV except that done in the manner of a LIVE broadcast.
Having served on both boards, attended both Plenaries regularly, and attended numerous governance sessions for both unions, we can say confidently that AFTRA is quite willing to work with SAG, and that its contracts, while different in style and substance, cannot clearly be analyzed as better or worse than SAG’s. Mr. Allen would disagree with that assessment, but whatever the case, there is a solution.
Having served? You know, like in the past. You get the feeling these two aren’t being exactly up front with members. As pointed out above, they are CURRENTLY serving on AFTRA’s Board. One is the Vice President of AFTRA’s Portland branch, the other an AFTRA board member. As to their BS about AFTRA’s contracts not being better, or worse, than SAG’s contracts tell that to actors who have worked these contracts, and found out after the fact, that they won’t be getting any resiudals the first year.
Seven years ago, SAG and AFTRA nearly merged.
If you need anymore proof that these people have no idea what they are talking about the above statement bares witness to that. The attempt at consolidation/merger was NOT SEVEN YEARS AGO but FOUR YEARS AGO in 2003.
The proposal failed by a narrow margin in SAG, and passed by a wide one in AFTRA. Though efforts to reinvigorate merger haven’t found traction in the SAG boardroom due to resistance from the Hollywood Division, with 2008 negotiations looming, current thinking is that we couldn’t get it done in time if we tried. Even if that were true (it isn’t), it’s absolutely necessary that the process begin.
AFTRA is intent on getting SAG to bail it out of its reoccurring financial woes, and these two who, as SAG board members, have a fiduciary responsibility to SAG, are acting more like agents for AFTRAbut then again, as you have seen, they are really AFTRA loyalist in SAG clothing.
There has never been a more appropriate time to push for merger. A time when the argument over jurisdiction regarding content capture and delivery and new types of media could be put to rest. A time when, as Mr. Allen’s letter ironically exposes, we have performers doing the exact same work under two unions, with neither union having legal recourse to reclaim lost work because of the other’s efforts. A time when we face the propagation of non-union work, performers ignorantly opting for Financial Core status, and State and Federal government attempting to crush unionism with horrific “right to work” legislation.
How about this. At a time that SAG members are on the picket lines in support of the WGA strike to save residuals, these two are fronting for AFTRA, which is giving away the very thing the WGA and SAG is trying retain for its membership.
Imagine a merged performers union. When we do a movie and then do a radio spot or host a web-based infomercial, we pay initiation fees and dues to one entity, contribute to one pension and health plan, qualifying much more quickly for both with income from all work going to one union. Wait, is this making too much sense? We hope your answer is yes.
My answer to the above would be, except for the radio spots,(which by the way no one in LA works for at AFTRA’s negotiated rate because of its paltry rate of just under $250 a spot. LA rate is $425 a spot) this is already being done at SAG. And its being done, while at the same time being undercut by AFTRA. This, in an effort, to force SAG into a merger with their failing union. A union, which can’t gain jurisdiction over cable news outlets like CNN, Fox News, CNBC and MSNBC which remain NON-UNION. The only thing a merger would accomplish would be for SAG to absorb broadcasters who admit to “salting” by doing non-union work, while absorbing AFTRA’s pension plan which trustees proclaimed would not benefit SAG particpants. Do we really want to absorb AFTRA which has shown it has no problem stabbing actors in the back. again.
We hope merger lies on the horizon, but we need your help right now. Support your sister union, and if you have questions about Mr. Allen’s letter in Screen Actor Magazine, be in touch with us care of firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call us: (206) 224-5696 or (800) 724-0767. We will be communicating with all of you through various means over the next several months, and we are happy to speak with each of you individually at any time.
My Gawd, what gives these two the right to run what amounts to little more than a telethon for AFTRA. Support your sister union? God forbid they would ask you to support your union SAG in stopping AFTRA’s leadership’s unconscionable pillaging of actors wages.
We stand on the edge of a battlefield, where a civil war is brewing.
Yeah, and don’t turn your back on them because it’s ever so apparent whose side they are on. In the light of AFTRA’s outright robbery of SAG’s contracts, it would be a war of brother against burglar.
The claims and counter-claims of both unions are confusing, and distractions from the work at hand. The only way to clear up this confusion is to make that battlefield a united one against our real foe; to stand together and fight for what we deserve, not amongst ourselves.
Can you imagine sharing a foxhole with the likes of these two. And that’s exactly what we would be up against if we were to go into negotiations with them.
So, when you walk onto a job that you thought was SAG and are presented an AFTRA contract, don’t ask yourself why it’s not a SAG contract, ask yourself, and your unions, why it isn’t a SAG-AFTRA contract instead.
What you ask yourself, is does SAG really want to go into negotiations with AFTRA having a 50% say in SAG’s contracts, when they have already shown a willingness to give up what we and the writers are trying to save.
Then write to your SAG National Executive Director and demand he turn his attentions to that effort, and away from this disastrous one.
What you should do is write to your SAG leadership and ask why this AFTRA propaganda from two AFTRA board agents is allowed on SAG’s website.
Mr. Allen may be reached at email@example.com. President Rosenberg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for standing with us during this time as the talented, pro-union members you are. We are proud to call each and every one of you brother and sister. Be in touch.
How can we stand with these people, when all they want to do is COWER.
In Solidarity,Robert Blanche Portland Branch President, Mary McDonald-Lewis Portland National Board Member
Portland Screen Actors Guild
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief