Posted: Sat., Feb. 27, 2010, 5:16pm PT
AFTRA approves joint talks with SAG
Org repairs negotiating relationship with guild
By DAVE MCNARY
The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild have officially repaired their negotiating relationship by taking a major step toward reconciliation — and joint negotiations — after a few years of hostility.
AFTRA’s national board voted Saturday to approve joint negotiations with SAG, which is already set to begin seven weeks of talks with the companies on its feature-preimetime deal on Oct. 1.
AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said in the annnoucement that recent discussions between the performers’ unions had led to the decision by AFTRA to join up again with SAG, two years after AFTRA split off angrily from the guild and both unions negotiated separately.
“I applaud the National Board for taking this important step forward today following our productive discussions with our counterparts at Screen Actors Guild earlier this week, specifically with respect to AFTRA’s heavy negotiating schedule for 2010,” Reardon said. “I look forward to continuing our work with SAG President Ken Howard and the leadership and members of our sister union as we move forward to bargain the strongest possible contracts for professional talent.”
SAG issued a strong endorsement of AFTRA’s action. “It’s terrific news for the memberships of both unions and we look forward to an effective negotiation,” a SAG spokesperson said.
Oh just wonderful. Now that AFTRA has effectively undercut SAG at every corner by giving away everything former NED Doug Allen and President Alan Rosenberg had fought for in negotiations–including keeping the Internet union, internet residuals, and numerous other union safeguards that were stripped from our contractthey are ready to step back in the fold. Only now thanks to our “do nothing” current leadership, they will (illegally* see below) hold jurisdiction over most of the TV shows being negotiated.
AFTRA said the joint talks would take place under the three-decades-old Phase One agreement between SAG and AFTRA. It also noted that a two-year-old non-disparament agreement — brokered by the AFL-CIO to repair the damaged relationship — would remain in effect.
AFTRA also said the “wages and working conditions” meetings leading up to negotiations have not been scheduled at this time.
The current master feature-primetime contracts for SAG, AFTRA and the DGA with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expire on June 30, 2011. The Writers Guild of America’s deal — hammered out in early 2008 after a 100-day strike — expires on May 1, 2011.
Given how contentious the 2007 and 2008 contract negotiations were for the WGA and SAG, there’s great anticipation about the next round of talks, when both sides will come to the table with more info about how new media licensing and distribution are changing the industry’s economics.
Yeah, right. Trust me it will be the same Ol’ same Ol’. The DGA will undercut the WGA just like they did the last time. And AFTRA and the go-along-to-get-along USAN and UFS will move right in lockstep with the DGA.
AFTRA’s move was not a surprise. SAG announced a month ago on Jan. 31 that it would seek to start joint negotiations with AFTRA.
SAG, AFTRA and the WGA have not yet appointed a negotiating committee. The DGA announced 4 weeks ago that is had tapped Gil Cates’ to head itsnegotiating panel for the fourth consecutive time SAG’s national board — controlled for the past year and half by the Unite for Strength faction that’s sought to improve relations with AFTRA — has assigned SAG national exec director David White and president Ken Howard the task of mending fences with AFTRA.
Has it escaped anyone’s attention that since Ken Howard and his group has taken power every new show has gone to AFTRA. But, but, but
Howard won the SAG presidency last fall with a platform that promised better relations with AFTRA –including seeking a merger — as the self-styled moderates gained more control over the 71-member panel, with more than 55%.
Yeah, we know have great relations with AFTRA and they have all the new shows. But don’t bother Ken Howard with such small stuff. He is too busy doing AFTRA shows in Canada.
SAG has about 120,000 members, and AFTRA 70,000, with about 45,000 thesps holding dual membership. The two performers unions have shared jurisdiction in primetime TV shows that are shot on digital formats, and many of the new shows have opted for AFTRA deals in recent years.
SAG doesn’t share digital shows with AFTRA. AFTRA has taken these shows illegally and up until now, no one at SAG has had the balls to do anything about it. In the meantime more and more SAG members will be losing their health insure. It was hard enough for the little guy to make it when all the shows were SAG. Now that AFTRA has poached most of the new ones it will be impossible for them to make their insurance at either AFTRA or SAG. Who can we thank. Why the parties that made it all possible USAN/UFS and their supporters including Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Matt Damon and all the other celebrities who made it all possible by taking a weak stance on the issues and siding with our employers in the last negotiation. (See link to list below)
The 2008 split between the unions culminated years of battling over jurisdiction and strategies — with SAG usually opting for the more confrontational approach. AFTRA leaders backed away from joint contract talks with SAG on primetime following a dispute over actors wanting to switch jurisdiction over a soap opera from AFTRA to SAG.
No they didn’t back off of that issue, one that had been settled, when they pulled out of negotiations with SAG. That was just the phony excuse they used to cut a sweetheart deal with employers in order to gain jurisdiction over most new TV shows. HeySAG’s day rate is now round thirty bucks less a day than AFTRA’s but, but, butproducers are still going to AFTRA. In case, you ain’t figured it out, the fix is inand its you the little guy actor who will continue to be screwed.
That led to AFTRA concluding a deal a year before SAG in July 2008 — despite SAG’s fervent opposition to ratification.
SAG’s board fired national exec director Doug Allen a year ago partly due to the deterioration in relations with AFTRA and replaced him with White — who reached the same deal on primetime as AFTRA’s last April. The ratification was backed by 78% of guild members who voted.
I wonder if they will vote for them again?
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief
*Just in case you forgot our 4A’s charterwhich still is in effect– here is the part that defines SAG’s jurisdiction.
** This link provides just some of the SAG members that sold us out during the last negotiations and are as responsible as anyone that we have lost all our shows to AFTRA.