Showbizreporting's Blog

June 2, 2009

Martin Sheen’s Letter (Jan. 18, 2009)

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 1:28 am

Here is a letter from Martin Sheen telling all SAG Members to vote for Membership First. The link is below as well as the letter. Enjoy!!!!


To my fellow actors:

If you’re one of the tens of thousands of S.A.G. members who don’t work enough or earn enough as an actor, you’re in danger of losing one of your fundamental rights as a union member. Unless you take the time, right now, to go get your S.A.G. ballot and re-elect MembershipFirst, you could lose your right to vote.

A slate of actors has emerged calling themselves “Unite For Strength”, with an overwhelming majority of their candidates determined to implement “Qualified” or “Affected” voting on all future S.A.G. contracts. Regardless of what they are claiming TODAY, if this group gains control of S.A.G.’s national board, they will start the “qualified/affected” voting policy in motion. Since February 2008, they have dedicated their energies in collecting signatures for their “Qualified Voting Petition.” They’ve proudly and publicly touted their list of supporters, including the names of very high profile actor/ producers. They and their supporters have signed a petition that would end democracy in the Screen Actors Guild and create a ‘class system’ between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.

The AMPTP, ( the group that represents our largest employers/ producers) have publicly endorsed “Qualified Voting”. In their opinion, too many actors are voting on S.A.G. contracts. Clearly the AMPTP has something to gain if fewer members are allowed to vote: The potential of all contracts, no matter how weak, being ratified by a greatly diminished voting pool.

Many of the actors who signed the “qualified/affected” voting petition are themselves producers with very successful production companies. That’s clearly a conflict of interest.

It is safe to assume that strong and determined unionists like Crystal Lee Sutton, (the real ‘Norma Rae’) would never support “Qualified”/”Affected” voting. She would know that any proposed plan to disqualify a member’s right to vote would weaken the power of a union and its members. With regard to the Screen Actors Guild, the “qualified/affected” voting proposal, proudly advocated by “Unite For Strength” and their supporters, would deny 75% of S.A.G.’s membership the right to vote on our most important contracts. Those who will be most impacted by ‘affected’ voting are the same S.A.G. members who are having the hardest time getting hired- namely performers of color, seniors, performers with disabilities and woman over the age of 35. I firmly believe that the real ‘Norma Rae’ would never support any policy as divisive, as elitist and as discriminatory as “qualified/ affected” voting. I’m confident that she, nor any other strong union activists like her, would ever support the inherent divisiveness of positions “Unite For Strength” advocates.

The proposed “qualified/affected” voting plan goes against not only the very essence of “unionism”, but it is also based on a false premise.

There is absolutely NO evidence that struggling actors vote any differently than those who are LUCKY enough to work consistently, particularly when it comes to contracts.

MembershipFirst is, and has always been, against “qualified” or “affected” voting. That’s one of the reasons why they have my complete support. They have consistently fought for all actors, regardless of earning levels. From A-Lister to up and comers, MembershipFirst has and will continue to keep their eyes on the prize and work diligently for all of the members of the greatest talent union in the world.

Please join me in voting for the entire MembershipFirst slate as listed below.

In solidarity,

Martin Sheen


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