Bushwhacked Part Two! SW Exclusive: SAG Watchdog continues its response to that Rebecca Bush e-mail everyone is talking about!
What purports to be a pro dues increase statement basically becomes a diatribe against those who oppose it! My personal favorite line is when Ms. Bush tries to justify Mr. Pisano’s half a million dollar “salary-and-benefit-package” with “And, do we really want the cheapest CEO we can find?”
So let’s pick it up along with your humble award winning editor & chiefs responses. You’ll notice that I used small letters on editor and chief, ah, that’s cause I’m humble.
Here is Bushwhacked Part Two:
Bush: And, did their emails mention that they propose to hire MORE staff? No, they didn’t. But here’s the record. They want to hire a Hollywood Division Executive Director (minimum $200,000).
Miller: Ms. Bush, conveniently fails to mention that New York has a Division Director, J.J. Simmons, NY Executive director, $117,120 ($109,173 and $7,947), and the branches have a Division Executive, Hollis Batchelor, ($197,625: $127,272 and $70,353).
Now tell us again Ms. Bush why Hollywood with over fifty percent of the membership which generates over 60 percent of SAG’s Revenues shouldn’t have a Divisional Director? This is just another example of Restore Respect’s LACK OF RESPECT for Hollywood’s members! According to NY President Eileen Henry, Hollywood thinks it’s SPECIAL!.
Bush: They want to hire a separate staff person to take verbatim minutes (maybe $40,000).
Miller: God, forbid that our Board Members should be held accountable to the membership! I’m sure that forty grand could be scrapped up by stopping things like marketing ploys disguised as Surveys! You know, the kind that asks HOW YOU VOTED on the ATA/NATR referendum. How much is the current survey costing? Even Board Members can’t find out! Pisano ain’t talking! Hell, was it even authorized by the board? Ah, thanks to the lack of verbatim minutes there ain’t NO WAY TO FIND OUT! But not to worry CEO Pisano assures questioning board members that they authorized it.
Bush: They want to put out a separate Hollywood only magazine (printing, mailing and another staff person).
Miller: You mean like “Sessions” the one Philadelphia puts out?
Bush: BUT, it’s not all about spending money for staffthey want to use your Guild money for parties. That’s right — 3 parties a year, starting with a $12,000 Labor Day party for only 350 Guild members. If they have their way, that will be followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas parties.
Miller: And what does any of this have to do with THEIR REASONS FOR A DUES INCREASE But back to the parties for members. What can you say to something like having a Christmas Party for the families who have no money for Christmas dinner? Bah-humbug! To be fair, you can imagine why Ms. Bush’s slate would be against things like a Labor Day get-together for the rank and file members! Hey, they didn’t even furnish them WATER at the last Hollywood membership meeting. Although, without seeming catty, I did notice that Ms. Bush, Mr. Farrell, James Cromwell and staff members where sipping on something that looked a hell of a lot like bottles of water. And, of course they did put branch board members up at a FIVE STAR HOTEL ON THE BEACH during the last plenary. And, I can’t prove it but I bet they even gave them water!
Bush: What would you rather haveparties or services?
Miller: Hmmm, gosh, why can’t we have both? Damn, that doesn’t seem fair! Especially since staff gets both! And we pay for their party—with our dues money! Oh, by the way, according to the April Edition of the New York Sagazine on May 21st New York is having “an extravaganza exclusively for (Their) SAG members” it continues “Join us for a fun filled day of career and contract seminars plus networking opportunities! Get your questions answered, enjoy free raffles and leave with a SAG souvenir!” Hmmm, I don’t know, but that kinda sounds like a party to me! Ah, at the very least, Hollywood could do the same thing at, ah, say, I got it A LABOR DAY PICNIC! No, better not, New York President Henry would just accuse us again of thinking we’re SPECIAL!
Bush: CEO. Robert Pisano has done a great job streamlining the Guild’s spending dramatically since 2001. He and his staff have saved the Guild a fortune.
Miller: Oh, really! According to the LM 2’s! Total Disbursements in 2002 were $81,232,327! Total Disbursement’s in 2003 WENT UP to $88, 401, 959! Talk about saving us a fortune!
Bush: Membership First told you that AIMA would cost $30 million a year to run.
Miller: Hmmm, I just checked the Membership First Minority report NO MENTION OF THIS! But then it would have been a little silly of them to say that AIMA would ONLY cost $30 Million a year to run when the AIMA packet mailed to the membership projected first year expenses as $78, 300,000 ! Duh!
Bush: What they didn’t tell you was that without the consolidation, running SAG costs $45 million.
Miller: Hmmm, I ain’t a whiz at math but ain’t 78 Million a tad MORE than 45 Million?
Bush: Pisano’s gotten us a solid commercial contract and a good extension contract both without work slowdowns.
Miller: Pisano got us a commercial contract with a five percent bump in cable residualsah, that’s down 135% from the previous bump! As to it being a good extension contract! Well, ah, it was historic in one sense. The 2.5% increase in minimums was the worst in SAG History! The Restore Respect Board Members that championed the 2.5 increase kept proclaiming that we live in a two percent world! Just keep reminding yourself of that the next time you fill-up at the pump, or try to find yourself new digs!
Bush: If Membership First were running the Guild, there’s no doubt we would be headed for a strike this summer without a strike fund. How can we be sure about this? Because they advocated going to strike now, in the Boardroom.
Miller: Can’t you just see it! The board room is still as negotiations are discussed! Then a wild eyed Membership First Member, out of the blue jumps up, and yells! “Let’s go on strike!” Mike Farrell not wanting to offend says “would someone get that misanthrope out of here!” Hey, how about this? If we kept VERBATIM minutes, Ms. Bush would be able to prove her outlandish charge. Hmmm, come to think about it, ah, maybe that’s the reason she doesn’t want them.
But I digress, anyhow, isn’t it amazing that the very same Restore Respect Board Members that got elected by claiming that SAG doesn’t need to go on strike to get a good contract, are now proclaiming that we need a STRIKE FUND!
Bush: Because they are the same group that brought us the Strike of 2000 without a strike fund.
Miller: Here are the facts, folks. The 2000 Commercial Negotiating Committee was made up of 26 members: 19 “Restore Respecters” and 7 “Membership Firsters.” They voted 26 to NOTHING to go on strike. As the strike progressed they voted 26 NOTHING to continue on strike. And they voted 24 to 2 to Come off strike. So to say that Membership First Board Members brought us the strike is just a wee bit disingenuous! Oh, by the way the Membership voted Overwhelmingly 97% to go on strike! A Strike by the way that not only saved pay-per-play but increased cable residuals by 140 percent. Up from $1014 to $2460!
Bush: The only thing different this time would be holiday parties (which might not look so good to people who could be facing the prospect of losing their homes and health insurance by Christmas if we strike without a fund.)
Miller: Is Ms. Bush suggesting that a strike fund would be used to pay members house payments and health insurance? Hmmm, let’s seesay we give each member 300 dollars a week to help make those payments! Hmmm, ah 120, 000 members times three hundred bucks.ah, carry the zero, carry the zero, carry the zeroah, like I said I ain’t no whiz at math but I don’t think the $7 Million raised the first year is gonna be enough to save those homes, and make those payments.
Bush: If the membership decides it really wants to strike over DVD residuals, wouldn’t it be better to plan for it and do it the smart way with more money in our coffers?
Miller: Look, Pisano told the board that it takes Producers up to SIX Months to gear up for a strike! If we hadn’t Deleveraged the Writer’s Guild and had faced the producers UNIFIED, we would have placed them between a rock and a hard place with only a FOUR MONTH deadline—TWO MONTHS short of their necessary gearing up time! Do you think it ever occurred to Mr. Pisano, Ms. Gilbert or even Ms. Bush that while we are gearing up THEY MIGHT ALSO BE GEARING UP? AND NOW THANKS TO THEIR EXTENSION, THE PRODUCERS WILL HAVE THEIR SIX MONTHS AND THEN SOME!
Bush: Right now the Writers Guild is trying to get an extension with NO bumps that Pisano and our TV/Theatrical Committee have already gotten for us!
Miller: Oh, by the way the Producers have already stated Publicly that they are NOT giving it to them! Hey, They effectively Deleveraged both SAG and WGA when they conned SAG’s leadership into the ONE year “deal,” they ain’t gonna Releverage us by putting us back in sync! Duh!
Bush: Oh, and that staff that Membership First doesn’t think it needs, helped with this, too!
Miller: Did they ever!
Bush: Pisano’s salary may look big to those of us out of work, but he could make a lot more money in the private sector.
Miller: He already has! Like I said, he recently sold SOME of his Netflix stock for a cool 2.3 Million dollars! Hey, if this dues increase thing happens, I say forget the War chest and let’s invest the Seven Million in Netflix Stock. That way we can be sure that Pisano is really looking out for it!
Bush: And, do we really want the cheapest CEO we can find?
Miller: Yikes! She’s got me stumped! Hmmm, well, gosh, personally, I don’t care if he’s a big tipper or not! (Rimshot!)
Bush: Strikes are not to be taken lightly. Membership First claims the 2000 strike cost $2 million. What they don’t mention is the estimated $250 million it cost the Guild members in lost wages and the losses to the health and pension funds. And that were still paying for it today, because they taught the producers to go to Canada to shoot commercials, too!
Miller: Okay the strike cost SAG 2 million over six months! This shoots down their War Chest claim! Obviously, if we were to have another strike, we could cover that with that 12 Million surplus I mentioned earlier! And just as obviously, the 3 Million that the dues increase would raise the first 6 months would hardly cover that “estimated” 250 Million dollars that Ms. Bush CLAIMS that the membership lost! ( Up to now Ms. Bush’s claims have proven to be false! Look, everyone knows that strikes are costly to the membership not only financially but spiritually, but excuse me, what does that have to do with raising our dues for a War Chest? Actually, it’s counter productive to her argument! Strikes are costly to the membership! So, gosh, we need money so we can go on Strike! Double Duh!) But here’s something you can be sure of, if we hadn’t kept our pay-per-play, and we had ONLY gotten a Pisano type FIVE PERCENT raise on the then $1014 residual rate for cable, our last reported annual commercial revenue of $700,000,000 dollars would have been far less!
Hmmm, so it was Membership First that taught producers to go to Canada? Oh, my god, if they only hadn’t had those damn classes! Hmmm, maybe if they hadn’t served those producers water they would have got up and left! Hey don’t laugh, it happened at the last Hollywood Membership meeting!
Bush: ATA/NATR Talent Agency Agreement Actually, its failure is a product of the Daniels (Membership First) administration. People allied with Membership First worked very hard to reach an agreement with the agents. But, it wasn’t good enough for Membership First’s leaders. They convinced the membership to vote it down, by promising to make them go back to the table and get a better deal. But what they didn’t tell you was THAT WAS THE BEST DEAL THAT WOULD BE PUT ON THE TABLE! So, what did they wind up with? Two things: No rules, No agreement. Do you know anyone who is happy with the General Service Agreements that are the legacy of this monumental misjudgment by Membership First?
Miller: Two years ago the Membership rejected these same tired arguments! And Ms. Bush and her colleagues have yet to stand up to the ATA/NATR and tell them to sign a franchise agreement! So, the next time you have a GSA foisted upon youyou know who to blame! Oh, don’t bother to call them for help if your unfranchised agent proffers you a GSA, they’ll just tell you to GET A LAWYER!
Bush: The sad truth is that Membership First doesn’t put the members first at all! They have hijacked every effort put forth to help this union function and evolve in a difficult, changing business climate. And, while they seem to be against everything, they never seem to offer any viable alternatives! Oh, except for the parties.
Miller: We’d like to thank Ms. Bush for her non-political even-handed statements, now, uh, let’s PARTY! Huh, oh she has more to say!
Bush: They only say NO and cost you money! Restore Respect says YES and keeps you working! Please vote YES for the increase and for YOUR FUTURE!
Miller: Hmmm, Ms. Bush and her group have wasted over FOUR MILLION dollars on the failed ATA/NATR giveaway along with Consolidation—and then they accuse Membership First of costing you money! Ah, right?
Of course, you can’t argue that Restore Respect isn’t the YES party! They say YES to anything! YES, to the ATA/NATR giveaway! YES, to selling out SAG to ‘One World Union, or No Union At All’! YES, to the worst commercial contract in SAG History!
And they will without a doubt say YES to whatever the AMPTP offers them in the upcoming negotiations! That is exactly why they don’t need more of YOUR DUES MONEY FOR A “WAR CHEST!”
Since we can’t be sure that they AIMA to use that money for a War Chest, ah, Please Vote NO to the increase, or SAG may not have A FUTURE!
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief