Showbizreporting's Blog

September 8, 2009

A Message from Ken Howard

Subject: A message from Ken Howard

Fellow Hollywood SAG Members,

The most important question in this election is this: What steps must we take to strengthen the Screen Actors Guild and make sure we can negotiate the best possible contracts? I’ve described very clearly what I think the answer is. We need to build close relationships with all our fellow entertainment unions and approach future contract negotiations as a united front. Most critically, the two unions representing performers in our industry must work together as one. The surest way to achieve that is by merging SAG and AFTRA into one powerful national union.

Please go to http://www.facebook.com/l/;uniteforstrength.com/?p=734 and you’ll see important video messages from Tom Hanks, William H. Macy, and Felicity Huffman explaining why they – along with Sally Field, Tony Shalhoub, Hector Elizondo and so many other SAG members – agree with me.

My opponent, Anne-Marie Johnson, sees it differently. She and her group, Membership First, chose to fight with AFTRA heading into last year’s TV/Theatrical negotiations, and it cost us terribly:

    – SAG members lost tens of millions of dollars in increases and countless job opportunities during a ten month contract stalemate.

    – SAG covered only 10% of the 2009 TV pilots.

    – Lower revenues led to a 2-year budget deficit of $10 million, requiring 8% of SAG’s staff to be fired.

    – Reduced earnings meant fewer members qualified for SAG health insurance and pension credits.

    – Lower earnings contributed to the need for major changes to SAG’s pension and health plans, which will take effect in January, including higher health insurance premiums and deductibles, and a lower pension accrual rate.

With results like these, it’s no surprise that Anne-Marie Johnson and Membership First are now trying to sound like they embrace the idea of working together with AFTRA. But what you hear them saying may be very different from what they mean.

    – They say they want “all performers in one union”… but they steadfastly oppose merger, the obvious way to accomplish that.

– They say SAG should “share services” with AFTRA… but they want to immediately end the legal agreement that prohibits SAG and AFTRA from publicly attacking each other.

– They say SAG and AFTRA must negotiate together in 2010… but Ms. Johnson pledges her first act if elected would be to ask performers who are members of both unions to choose between them. Is she suggesting that SAG should raid AFTRA’s membership? That would be ruinous.

We CANNOT afford to go back to the go-it-alone approach of Anne-Marie Johnson, Connie Stevens, and Membership First. Unite for Strength is dedicated to protecting the future for actors. If you agree that SAG is made stronger by working in partnership with our fellow entertainment unions, please vote for me, Amy Aquino, and all the Unite for Strength board candidates.

Respectfully,

Ken Howard

VOTE USAN – USF

http://www.facebook.com/l/;www.UnitedScreenActors.com

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