Well, here we are into a new year and it’s time to look at the big winners and losers in the SAG/AMPTP relationship. As far as SAG members and actors in general are concerned, 2009 will most likely go down as one of the most disastrous in guild history: a year in which long held safeguards were gutted from our TV/Theatrical agreement with producers.
For the first time, we will allow signatories to do non-union shows with the guild’s blessing; employers will be able to use portions of our work in other venues without our consent, and force majeure will be, for all intensive purposes, forceless: And our guild will be at risk for more pushback’s evolving into a domino effect of losses.
Meanwhile, our movie employers had a record breaking 2009 at the box office and are still making money hand over fist, while on the other hand, most of us (actors), are left with little more than our hands out and a fist full of nothing.
And why are we in this unenviable position’ Why the economy stupid. You all remember why we were urged to accept the worst contract in SAG history. Well, if you don’t let’s all take a look back in a litany of producer and producer puppet propaganda.
The following AMPTP statement at the end of the SAG blood letting summarizes the culmination of producers successful whipsawing of Hollywood’s entertainment unions based on the cry that they take it in the shorts because of the poor economy.
Statement by the AMPTP
Meanwhile, as we have been telling you, for the past year, the only challenges our AMPTP employers faced was counting their bulging box office receipts and hiding their smirks while they whipsawed actors, writers, directors and below the line employees into to signing contracts that even they most likely never truly believed they would achieve.
Their mantra that we should capitulate because of the poor economy was picked up by those who are always looking for an excuse to cave in from pressure from above, so to speak. Now, producers didn’t accomplish their whipsawing alone, they had plenty of help from the director’s guild and AFTRA.
The director’s guild in cahoots with producers successfully helped formulate and implement a cutback contract that cut away at new media, eliminating most residuals, union protections while cutting back on long held protections like clip consent, and force majeure. If you’d like to read more about how the AMPTP and directors’ guild leadership successfully pulled off their scheme click the following link. http://sagwatchdog.com/cgi-bin/admin_config.pl/read/940
The directors guild ‘assisted’ the AMPTP in setting the template for the cutback contract that undermined the writers strike’then the broadcasters union, AFTRA, stepped in during SAG negotiations, under NED Doug Allen and President Alan Rosenberg, and set the knife directly between the shoulder blades of our negotiating team, reaffirming that template–and effectively undermining actors chances of getting any affective gains or saving any traditional safeguards.
And what was their excuse’ Why the one they used all that year whenever they rolled over for employers; the poor economy. For example this missive form SAG President Roberta Reardon
(AFL-CIO Now Blog April 2 2009)
Of course, the economy wasn’t the only mantra used to manipulate members. There was the ‘cave-in’ and get back to work message.
SAG Interim National Executive Director David White praised the guild’s membership for ratifying the contract.
(The Wrap June 9th, 2009)
Of course NED White never bothered to mention that SAG members never were out of work, as in on strike, but, but why quibble over a little misleading propaganda’I mean now that we are all back to work’huh, your not’ Hey, at least you are in a strong position for the future’well, that is if you hate residuals, force majeure, clip protection and love non-union work especially if it’s for food.
But, we SAG members can be proud. Oh, yes. Even though our employers were making recorded breaking profits, why instead of insisting on a piece of that lucrative pie, we chose to standby the rest of our fellow citizens, and suffer right along with them, showing solidarity during these poor economic times, by taking a lousy deal while our employers benefited from our labor.
But we knew we were doing the right time because so many of our hi-profile actors told us so.
(Wrap June 9th 2009)
Course what ‘Tom’ didn’t tell us is that he was a producer of around twenty movie or TV projects at the time– and that he and his producer propaganda pals have attorneys, and the clout to secure individual safe guards like force majeure, and clip consent while the average SAG member dependents upon his/her union to secure those protections.
Hey, it was not just high profile actors like the above along with Alec "Hulu" Baldwin, Matt Damon and numerous other high profilers that were instrumental in denying members a chance to vote on a strike authorization. They had plenty of help with their ‘no-strike authorization’ rhetoric that gave aid, comfort and a tremendous propaganda tool for producers to use against those who wanted to standup for a decent contract. And that help and support came from the USAN/UFS/AFTRA/AMPTP First crowd
If you would like to be reminded of those hi profilers who sold us out on this matter click the following link http://digitalmedialaw.blogspot.com/2008/12/sag-over-130-stars-against-strike.html
But it wasn’t just many of our self-serving SAG hi-profile members that sold us out. It was most our self-serving non acting community.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
“I applaud the efforts of AFTRA and the television producers to come to a fair agreement. During these difficult economic times, our top priority is to keep this City working, and I am optimistic that SAG and AMPTP will come to a fair and quick resolution as well.”
Look Mayor Villaraigosa doesn’t give a rat’s arse whether SAG members got a fair deal. Hell, he spelled it out for you, his “top priority is to keep this City working” Well, gosh, it’s like this, if the wheels of commerce keep turning, well that shines favorably on..well, Mayor Villaraigosa.
For others on the self-serving congratulatory train that praised AFTRA for selling out SAG, check out the following link.
So, here we are fellow SAG members, burdened with a contract riddled with egregious giveaways and terrible templates, as we embark on a new year under “go-along-to-get-along” leadership that with assistance from SAG legal tromped over our constitution to hi-jack TV/Theatrical negotiations– by replacing a constitutionally formed negotiating team with an unconstitutional SAG task force; one that gave producers everything they wanted. (And now it seems they are trying to cover their tracks by changing the parts of SAG’s constitution covering written assent.)
So, under this new El Foldo SAG leadership what can members expect in 2010′ Uh, well more of the same that they served up for 2009. But, but no matter what they giveaway, remember they are doing it for the economy STUPID.
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief