An Editorial follows this article from the SAG website:

Los Angeles— Results of a phone survey that polled approximately 800 SAG members nationwide were presented to the National Executive Committee (NEC) December 9. The sampling was pre-approved by the NEC and conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates between October 31 and November 5, 2003. In order to maintain privacy, all member phone numbers were kept confidential. A computer tape was given to Hart Research, but pollsters didn’t see the phone numbers.

Polling revealed that 35% of those polled were very satisfied or fairly satisfied with the situation in the industry today, while 61% said they were just somewhat satisfied or not really satisfied at all. When asked about the top priorities for Screen Actors Guild, members earning over $7,500 per year identified negotiating health insurance benefits as their number one priority, while those earning less than $7,500 put increasing employment opportunities at the top of their list.

On the specific question of consolidating SAG and AFTRA, 61% of members polled reported having a favorable attitude towards consolidation; while 17% were somewhat unfavorable; 16% were very unfavorable, and 6% were not sure. Support for consolidation broke down geographically as follows: California 56%; New York/New Jersey/Connecticut 65%; and 73% support from the rest of the country combined.

There were a number of areas where members expressed questions and concerns, including whether consolidation would result in more jobs and better contracts and how combining the unions would impact benefits. Surprisingly, results also showed that many dual SAG-AFTRA members mistakenly believed that their dues would be increased under the consolidation plan.

When asked what SAG leaders should do now, 79% of SAG members support continued efforts to combine the unions, with 65% saying that they would like the leadership to reach agreement with AFTRA on a modified plan that addresses the concerns of members who voted no on consolidation. Fourteen percent said to continue trying to pass the consolidation plan voted on in referendum, 19% said stop efforts to consolidate; and 2% were not sure.

SAG President Melissa Gilbert stated, “This is the first of many steps designed to take a pulse on what SAG members want to see in a new consolidation plan with AFTRA. I am gratified to see that the survey results confirm that our members want us to continue to find a way to bring these unions together in unity and strength. We all know we all need more jobs, acceptable wages and benefits for our families, but we need to dig deeper to find ways that we can deliver solutions to those issues in the context of a plan that is responsive to our members. Face-to-face focus groups are underway in Los Angeles, and we should have some very clear messages from the rank and file as to how to proceed. I am determined to serve the interests of all 118,000 members of Screen Actors Guild.”

This polling was the first element of a comprehensive outreach effort announced by President Gilbert on October 30 that is intended to solicit ideas and opinions from members across the country regarding efforts to consolidate SAG and AFTRA. Polling results of the survey will be disseminated to SAG National Board members at their January meeting.

The survey was done by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, which has spent the last 27 years conducting more than 5,000 public opinion surveys and undertaking 2,000 focus group sessions. With a client roster that features hundreds of unions and corporations, Hart has administered and analyzed the results of more than 2.5 million individual interviews.

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As in any survey, you can’t take it too seriously unless you know the margin of error– and the exact questions asked! We don’t know either on this one!

Now they say that 79% of the members are in favor of COMBINING the two unions! Okay! But there is a BIG difference between a generic term like COMBINING– and AIMA which was in the strictest legal sense a CONSOLIDATION! And as we can see only ‘fourteen’ percent of those surveyed were in favor of another try at AIMA! A sneaky way of saying: 86% WERE AGAINST IT! You’ll notice also that this statistical percentage was the only one WRITTEN OUT! All the other statistical percentages were identified numerically–if you ain’t careful that fourteen can slip right by you! And of course fourteen percent for, don’t sound nearly as bad as 86% AGAINST !! Hey, one might even wonder if the recent AIMA vote was really an affirmation for CONSOLIDATION!

Now, in my conversations with members who opposed the Consolidation, the central problem is endemic to the legal meaning of the word itself, Consolidation! There is big difference between, say some sort of combining like a Merger–and Consolidation as defined in Barron’s Law Dictionary.

According to Barron’s Law Dictionary:

“…In the law of corporations… In a merger, the company that continues to exist (SAG)retains its name and identity and acquires the assets, liabilities, franchises, and powers of the corporation(s) that cease(s) to exist.(AFTRA)

By contrast, in CONSOLIDATION, two or more corporations unite to form a new corporation and the original corporations (SAG & AFTRA) cease to exist.”

Hmmmm, I wonder what percentage of SAG members would’ve responded in the affirmative if asked the question: “do you favor any sort of COMBINING of the unions in which SAG CEASES TO EXIT?”

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief

Merger, Maybe. Consolidation Never! One World Union or No Union at All! “Are you out of your Frikking Mind?”

PS, If This polling was the first element of a comprehensive outreach effort announced by President Gilbert, I wonder if her accusation that some members who oppose Consolidation are Embedded Union Busters was the second element?