Showbizreporting's Blog

October 20, 2009

Report on SAG Meeting

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 4:03 pm

My report from the SAG National Membership Meeting held in Los Angeles Oct 18th, 2009:

Well, a large percentage of union work in this town has indeed left while a disaffected and marginally rational percentage of the union membership remains. Some things never change.

Even before the meeting began, grumbling was evident among many attending that I recognized as staunch MF supporters. So many people who do not think for themselves or bother to actually try to find answers on their own, like the lady in line behind me signing up for the speaker’s list complaining that the new leadership wanted to initiate tiered voting so that only the big money earners would be able to vote in the future. I won’t go into the conversation I had with her. . .useless of course, but I had to refute her comments loudly enough for those listening to hear . . .firmly but politely. I tried to stay quiet, I really did. . .

Ken Howard was unable to chair the meeting as he was in New York due to a previous engagement relating to a cause he has been involved in for years and committed to long before he even considered running for SAG President. Programs, invitations, and press all featuring his attendance at that event made it impossible for him to join us in person. Ken still got to the New York offices and appeared by videoconference to address the meeting. Even so, members tossed out snide comments during the meeting about his not being there. I’d call them idiots, but that would be an insult to the idiots of the world.

Amy Aquino masterfully chaired the meeting, approachable and attentive, forceful when necessary. David White was, as always, a calming energy and the epitome of professionalism and confidence. Anne-Marie was also her usual self, editorializing on the events with broad movements of her head yes and no, overly enthusiastic and applauding broadly so all could see when comments supported her well-known views and marginally, almost grudgingly responsive when they didn’t. Grace and even the impression of solidarity are certainly not her strong suit.

Reports from the departments were presented with fewer catcalls and disruptions than I have seen in the past. Decorum and respectful intent was evident from the dais at the outset and had the desired effect.

The speakers’ list was again filled with members who, I believe, really have no real understanding of etiquette, consideration for others, or what the Guild has power to do and what they can’t.

Members wanted assurances that the entire 45 person speakers’ list would be heard. They were told we had the room until 6pm and that there was a two minute limit per person – NEVERTHELESS the same people who wanted those assurances ran over, complained when told their time was up, ignored the rules, spoke out of turn, disrupted from the floor. . .well. . .you get the picture. About half got to speak and the fact that it was their own fault never entered their minds. Those left at the end were angry that the floor was being closed after a 15 minute extension past 6pm.

I won’t go into detail about most of the useless comments, barely functional motions, and outrageous accusations. Here are three instances:

1) A member tired of the divisiveness in the Board Room to date asked those on the dais for their promises they would work toward building consensus, civility, and togetherness in order to best represent us all. He asked each in turn. Amy Aquino said she would absolutely do so. When Anne-Marie was asked directly, she said “You know me!” and “I always put Membership First.” That’s all. Yes we DO know you Anne-Marie and you proved we’re right. No class, self-involved, divisive, uncompromising, and narcissistic.

2) Another member, upset about “lower quality” performers getting gigs made a motion that once an actor has their three vouchers in a category, stunt or background, etc… they would have to have 100 jobs before qualifying for another category – meaning a speaking role I have no doubt. The motion failed.

3) Then there was the woman upset about the Health Plan. She was bothered by the disparity between a SAG employee’s health benefits and a SAG member’s benefits for the same earnings. At no time did the logical distinction between being an employee of a company versus being a union member hired by others enter her mind.

So there ya’ go. All things considered, well run but, as expected, a large enough percentage of members messed things up.

In solidarity, G-d help us, I remain. . .

Jerry G

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