Okay, I’m gonna be up front with you. I got to the big SAG rally in support of our negotiating team, a tad late, a little after 11:00 AM. The reason I was late was because I had to stop and put 20 bucks worth of gas in the Black Beautyand you know how long that takes,, ah, it takesah, okay, make that, uh, I had to attend a meeting with Kim Hedgpeth where she was going to show me the results of the Network Code Referendum and all those AFTRA low-ball contracts.No,let’s see.
I slept in!
Anyway, I missed all the speeches by SAG NED Doug Allen, President Alan Rosenberg, and WGA president Patric Verrone. I was told that they all went over well with the crowd of over 500 hundred.
The crowd was especially vocal about voting down the AFTRA Exhibition A contract, which will affect 40,000 dual card members. A contract that virtually takes away right of consent for the middle class actor, assures that Internet remains a vast wasteland for non-union work produced by SAG Signatories, doesn’t address product placement, leaves the 80/20 DVD formula unchanged after over a quarter a century, and garners between $23 and $105 bucks for rerun streaming of traditional TV media on the internet for a year. (Day players would receive around 23 bucks all the way up to a $105 bucks for regulars for a year)
Anyway, I joined the large crowd carrying picket type signs. Eventually, bumped into Jenny Worman, one of your SAG negotiators on the team to represent our background performershopefully once the AFTRA contract is voted down, she and the others on our team will be able to do a tad better than AFTRA which only got an increase of one.
Others that I had a chance to say howdy to included Variety’s ace reporter Dave McNary, SAG’s NED Doug Allen, Head Negotiator David Jolliffe, Kent McCord, looking especially dapper with his steel gray hair and tailored suit.
Saw, President Rosenberg but never got to say “hi” because he was being interviewed by press people who were out in mass. All the networks. Helicopters flying over. It was quite a scene. Other quick howdy’s included SAG’s Deputy NED, Pamm Fair, Hollywood Division Executive Director Ilyanne Kitchaven, National Director of Organizing,Todd Amorde and a nod from Contracts Director Tom LaGrua!
Yeah, it’s good to be the dog!
Also, quick chats with Paul Napier, one of the good guys, on the AFTRA Board, Logical Loren Lester, a great strategist–and one of my favorite bullhorn man, DeWayne Williams, along with Chuck Sloan, who always admonishes me for my spelling, and, Hmmmare you sure George Christy started this way.
Oh, did I mention that Tom LaGrua nodded to me?
Look, I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see what a real reporter had to say about this event. But first, The Ol’ Dog had hoped to come up with some photos of the event, but alas, due to rollbacks, I think they’re catching, we have to rely on a rendition of the event by resident Watchdog artist Idrah Sticks.
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief
It’s Post Time. Look, it’s been a long day, okay?
And now here’s Dave!
SAG rallies against AFTRA
Guild member encourage to vote down deal
By DAVE MCNARY
The SAG-AFTRA hatefest has kicked into high gear with sniping on multiple fronts over the upcoming membership vote on AFTRA’s primetime deal.
The battles between the two unions came into sharp focus Monday as the guild hosted a boisterous anti-AFTRA rally at its Hollywood headquarters — an event with echoes of the 100-day writers strike as dozens of WGA members donned their familiar red-and-black shirts and hoisted picket signs. Defenders of AFTRA blasted SAG’s effort as misguided and full of lies.
SAG is aiming to persuade the 44,000 thesps belonging to both unions to vote against ratification of the pact AFTRA reached with the majors last month. The tenor of the comments during the morning rally raised the specter of SAG leadership moving into strike-prep mode.
“It is essential that we vote down that AFTRA deal now,” said SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg, who blamed AFTRA’s deal for SAG’s lack of progress at the negotiating table. “AFTRA has abandoned us to make their deal. … AFTRA’s capitulation has created major problems for us.”
Chants of “Vote no!” came from the raucous crowd of about 500 during short speeches by Rosenberg, Keith Carradine, SAG national exec director Doug Allen, WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA West exec director David Young. There were also repeated boos and catcalls when AFTRA was mentioned.
Rosenberg did not spare the congloms from criticism, pointing to Disney topper Robert Iger’s annual salary and asserting that the majors’ proposals are cloaked in SAG being asked to join in a partnership in new media uses of actors’ work.
“They’re actually asking us to pick up the shackles and put them on ourselves,” he declared.
The rally served to highlight the gaps between SAG’s positions and the congloms as negotiations on a new feature-primetime deal headed into the 25th day Monday, with SAG’s contract due to expire June 30.
“We are in danger of losing rights that we will never regain,” SAG board member William Mapother said, citing the use of online clips, jurisdiction over new media, product integration and force majeure contract clauses as major concerns for actors. “We feel that our requests are fair.”
Several SAG negotiating committee members have indicated that SAG still hasn’t ditched the idea of asking its 120,000 members for a strike authorization.
Longtime SAG board member Kent McCord told Daily Variety that holding off on an authorization vote is a signal that the guild “wants to make a deal.”
“It’s in the hands of the employers,” McCord added. “They have the ability to prevent any kind of labor action.”
Though the event was billed as a “solidarity rally,” speakers spent much of the time bashing AFTRA. SAG also distributed fliers with its analysis of AFTRA’s deal, such as asserting that the increases in minimums barely keep up with inflation; that AFTRA’s low-budget thresholds for new media would allow companies to make non-union shows; and that rates for streaming are the same as the DGA deal, which SAG has repeatedly criticized.
An AFTRA spokeswoman took issue with the assertions, adding that “it is unfortunate that SAG’s primary negotiating tactic seems to be to vote down its sister union’s contract on a prayer of achieving a better deal with the AMPTP. Today’s event only further demonstrates that they have little support for their misguided strategy. SAG members should encourage guild leadership to spend more time at the table and less time, effort and member resources undermining AFTRA.”
And members of SAG’s negotiating committee from New York and the regional branches — who have often sided with AFTRA in past disputes — announced a boycott of the rally.
Look these guys, as I have often said, are AFTRA Operatives in SAG Clothing. So, called SAG negotiators boycotting a rally of SAG solidarity for SAG’s negotiators! Don’t turn your back to them, Alan.
“We cannot support anything that jeopardizes our negotiations at this very sensitive time, and that is just what this ill-advised action does,” negotiating co-chairman Mike Pniewski said. “There’s simply too much at stake to engage in such a divisive initiative.”
Yep, nothing like a show of solidarity by the membership to jeopardize negotiations.
New York SAG president Sam Freed, also a negotiating panel co-chair, called the event “an irresponsible embarrassment,” asserting that there’s no evidence that defeating the AFTRA ratification would help SAG.
Hello? Earth to Sam. If AFTRA’s giveaway deal is ratified then SAG will most probably be stuck with it. How about this for evidence. If the contract is voted down, then AFTRA will be forced to go back to the table, and Nick and the boys, will be forced to rollback their rollbacks, and seriously negotiate for a fair deal. New York should really be proud of having this guy as it president. A guy, who labels a SAG rally of support by hundreds of fellow members as an embarrassment. The only embarrassment here is Sam Freed.
But Rosenberg insisted that the AFTRA deal will make it even more difficult for middle-class actors to make ends meet and pointed to the shortcomings of AFTRA’s deal on product integration, online clip consent, DVD residuals, payments for and jurisdiction over new media and mileage rates. “If you think all these things are fair, you should vote for the AFTRA deal,” he added.
SAG will hold a membership meeting Wednesday night at the Harmony Gold theater. For its part, AFTRA plans to hold multiple info meetings starting Thursday, and its negotiating committee chairman, Matt Kimbrough, began issuing “Lie from SAG” emails in response to SAG’s moves as “horribly misleading” by contrasting what SAG wants with what AFTRA’s achieved.
“A union has achieved nothing by virtue of what it proposes,” he said. “The terms agreed to in the Exhibit A contract in Prime Time Television with the AMPTP, which was overwhelmingly ratified by the AFTRA National Board of Directors, is a very rich contract in money, representing over 4% growth in cost to the studios to performers other than stars. Major Role performers will receive a 15% raise in Major Role Minimum.”
The only thing rich about AFTRA’s contract, relates to the number of producers it is going to make rich.
AFTRA president Roberta Reardon also took a swipe at SAG as being disconnected with reality in its most recent message to members, seeking a ratification vote. Ballots will go out in about a week, and results will be announced July 7.
“There’s an old saying that politics is the art of the possible,” she said. “In our view, so is collective bargaining. You need to be tough and determined, but you must also be strategic and forward-thinking. Responsible unionism is not about posturing and rhetoric but about setting firm goals, defining priorities and moving forward intelligently to achieve them. The goal of the negotiating committee was to forge an agreement that protects your rights and maximizes your opportunity to make a good living at the craft you love. The AFTRA National Board believes strongly that the primetime contract just negotiated does exactly that.”
It’s Ms. Reardon’s forward kind of thinking that will forward the AMPTP Agenda.
During the speeches, Rosenberg and Allen complained several times about DGA and AFTRA’s terms in new media, while failing to note that the WGA’s deal is nearly identical. Young alluded to that in his remarks, saying, “We hope you can make a better deal than we did and move the ball down the field.”
Is there any doubt why the DGA and AFTRA’s new media terms are the same, they had the same labor Attorney, Ken Ziffren,who, if I remember correctly, actually helped formulate it.
Verrone said SAG had been more supportive of the WGA than other unions during the writers strike, adding, “During our 100-day hoedown, there was one union that stood up more and looked better than any other.”
SAG and AFTRA are negotiating separately for the first time in three decades due to bitter jurisdictional disputes triggered when AFTRA leaders asserted they could no longer trust SAG leaders. The majors have indicated that they’re unwilling to give SAG a significantly better deal than AFTRA received.
SAG members can thank their lucky stars that this contract has been negotiated separately, or it would have already been a done deal. Both sides have 13 negotiators: AFTRA’s 13 block of negotiators, who unanimously okayed it, would have combined with New York and the branches, 4 negotiators, you know the ones that boycotted today’s rally–and the “give away_ contract would have been voted up 17 to 9, just as we told you several months ago. Whew!
(Cynthia Littleton in Hollywood contributed to this report.)
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