Showbizreporting's Blog

January 9, 2010

DML about SAG

Hollywood Labor: SAG Source Says a Strike Unlikely, Joint SAG-AFTRA Bargaining Likely; and the Year Ahead
By Jonathan Handel
Posted: 09 Jan 2010 12:11 AM PST

A SAG strike in the upcoming negotiating cycle is “difficult to envision,” a source from SAG’s moderate faction, Unite for Strength, told me, though he/she cautioned that avoiding one will require that management negotiate reasonably and he/she wouldn’t take the strike option off the table (as, indeed, no union could).

The source also said SAG’s upcoming January 31 national board meeting will probably feature a move towards resurrecting joint bargaining with AFTRA, adding that he/she was confident that bargaining later this year would indeed be jointly conducted. If the board does act on January 31, look for AFTRA’s board to respond at its February 27 meeting.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, suggested the SAG-AFTRA unity move might come in the form of a resolution committing SAG to engage in joint bargaining and empowering someone – David White (SAG’s National Executive Director), Ken Howard (SAG’s elected president) or an appointed committee – to engage in talks with AFTRA towards that goal. (Indeed, Howard has already had informal contacts with AFTRA president Roberta Reardon, as Back Stage has reported.) Successful joint negotiations are, the source indicated, a steppingstone to merger with AFTRA, a goal that UFS has consistently espoused.

The bargaining in question is with the AMPTP (studio alliance) regarding the TV/theatrical contract. Those negotiations were conducted jointly for 27 years under the “Phase I” agreement, but AFTRA suspended that agreement during the last round of negotiations after provocative attempts by SAG (under previous leadership) to modify the agreement to AFTRA’s disadvantage.

Those negotiations will commence October 1, 2010 and run for 6 weeks. The current contract doesn’t expire until June 30, 2011, but the early bargaining is taking place pursuant to a clause included in the current agreement (ratified in June 2009) at the AMPTP’s insistence.

And a heads up: the rest of this article is pretty much insider baseball, so proceed if you want the nitty-gritty details on what the year ahead may hold for Hollywood labor, and SAG in particular.

Negotiating Priorities

The source listed various possible priorities for the negotiations, while cautioning that such a list is obviously subject to change over the next nine months, or at least the next five or six, since I’m told by a source with knowledge of AFTRA scheduling that that union would probably want to arrive at a package of proposals by June or so. (The SAG source’s timing suggests a somewhat later date.)

A more fundamental reason the following list is preliminary is that SAG (and AFTRA) have not yet begun the “wages and working conditions” (W&W) process of canvassing members and soliciting their input on issues of concern. Nor has SAG appointed a Negotiating Committee for the upcoming talks. With those caveats in mind, the priorities the source listed were as follows:

(1) New Media. SAG is not particularly happy with the compromises made in new media. One possible move, depending on what SAG learns from data supplied by the producers (pursuant to an information sharing provision of the new media sideletter to the TV/theatrical agreement), is that SAG might seek a shortening of the time period during which the studios pay low fixed dollar amount residuals for ad-supported streaming of television programs. After the fixed residual period, the contract specifies a percentage of gross receipts. Thus, shortening the fixed residual cycle would move up the point at which potentially more lucrative percentage residuals are paid.

Regarding information sharing, by the way, SAG may have an opportunity to review information from other guilds in addition to what the producers supply, as the source told me that SAG president Ken Howard has had conversations with the presidents of other guilds/unions and hopes that all will share information.

(2) Basic Cable. The SAG basic cable contract is separate from the TV/theatrical agreement, but expires at the same time. (AFTRA doesn’t have a basic cable contract per se; it negotiates one-off deals with the producers, though the deals each have similarities.) In light of the growing number of scripted programs on basic cable – and even the possibility that NBC might one day cease broadcasting and become a basic cable channel – improvements in the basic cable agreement are important to actors.

Here, the UFS source indicated, a priority may be strengthening terms related to working conditions. The TV/theatrical agreement has many provisions regarding meal breaks, overtime, turnaround (the time between end of work one night and call time (start of work) the next day) and the like, whereas the basic cable agreement is less protective of actors in these areas. The actors’ goal here would be to obtain more protections.

Basic cable residuals are much less lucrative to actors than broadcast residuals, but the source did not focus on seeking improvements in this area. Significant improvements may not be achievable, given the lower budgets and smaller audiences of most basic cable programs.

(3) Spanish Language Organizing. This is a growing area of programming, and one that the source cited as a negotiating priority. However, it was not clear to me how this would affect the TV/theatrical agreement itself. Interestingly, the source stated that SAG does not have a negotiating department at present, an issue I did not have a chance to contact SAG’s spokesperson about.

(4) Pension and Health (P&H). Concern in these areas is driven by two factors: (a) The various union pension plans are suffering from diminished assets due to the stock market crash and diminished contributions (which are based on earnings) due to the weakness of the industry, the soft economy, and wages lost due to the 2007-2009 work stoppages. (b) Also under stress are the health plans, which are challenged by the ever-increasing cost of health care, and which may be subject to taxation as “Cadillac plans” under the new health care reform legislation working its way through Congress. For these reasons, P&H may be bigger factors in the upcoming negotiations than they have been in the recent past.

(5) Resynchronizing SAG Minimums. AFTRA reached agreement on its current deal by June 30, 2008, and received a 3.5% bump in minimum wage rates. In contrast, SAG’s deal wasn’t ratified until almost a year later. As a result, SAG received its first increase almost a year after AFTRA, and is therefore at a lower wage rate for the duration of the current contract. A priority for SAG is raising those rates, not just for the obvious reason, but also because synchronizing the two union’s wage rates is a necessary precondition to merger.

It’s clear that the AMPTP would want any increase for SAG wage rates to be paid for by SAG foregoing another economic priority. (The AMPTP, SAG and AFTRA had no comment for this article on any matters.) That raises the question of how to reduce the bite of resynchronization. I suggested one possibility: rather than SAG seeking an immediate double-size increase at the beginning of the 2011-2014 agreement, the guild could instead seek acceleration of its annual increases, resulting in a gradual rise to parity. (Warning – some math ahead. Skip to the next section if you’re phobic . . . .)

Here’s how this approach would work. If the agreement follows the customary pattern, AFTRA will receive annual increases on July 1, 2011, July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. Those increases will probably be between 2.5% to 3.5% per year. (They’re 3.5% per year under the current agreements.) SAG will receive an annual increase on July 1, 2011 as well, but that still leaves it one increment (i.e., 3.5%) behind AFTRA.

To bring SAG up to parity, the agreement could give SAG its next increase 9 months later (say April 1, 2012), rather than the 12 months that AFTRA will wait. That brings SAG up to parity with AFTRA, but only for the 3 month period until AFTRA’s July 1, 2012 increase kicks in. But then the agreement could give SAG its next increase 9 months after its April 1, 2012 increase – i.e., on January 1, 2013. Now SAG will match AFTRA for a period of 6 months, until AFTRA’s July 1, 2013 increase kicks in. Then, the agreement could give SAG an increase 9 months after its January 1, 2013 increase, i.e., on October 1, 2013. Now SAG will match AFTRA for the remaining 9 months of the contract (i.e., through June 30, 2014). At that point, the unions will stay synchronized, because the 2014-2017 will commence by giving both unions an increase on July 1, 2014.

Now look at the boldface portions of the preceding paragraph: 3 months plus 6 months plus 9 months equals 18 months that SAG will be synchronized with AFTRA. In other words, SAG will be at AFTRA wage levels for half the contract term. That’s a compromise halfway between the current situation, which is no parity, and an approach that gives full parity immediately upon commencement of the 2011 contract. By splitting the difference, SAG’s other priorities would take less of a hit – at a cost, of course, of delaying full parity.

The point of all this is that parity need not be an all or nothing proposition. This approach is a way to incrementally restore parity. And, by varying the 9 months in my example, the tradeoff between time to parity and cost of parity can be tuned to whatever negotiators deem appropriate.

A different approach would be to give SAG its increases at one year intervals, just like AFTRA, but to give SAG larger increases than AFTRA receives, such that by the end of the contract term, SAG is at the same level as AFTRA. Here again, the approach can be tuned, but perhaps not as precisely, since SAG would have to reach parity in exactly 3 years, 2 years or 1 year.

Framework for Joint Bargaining

Moving on from math, let’s talk about joint bargaining. The UFS source pointed out that the jointly-bargained commercials contract was not actually bargained under Phase I, but rather under a freestanding joint bargaining agreement. That agreement includes a non-disparagement agreement that clamped down on anti-AFTRA rhetoric coming from SAG’s hardline Membership First faction.

My source also said that the non-disparagement agreement was essential to the success of those negotiations (and I’m sure AFTRA would agree). Yet, according to the source, it would be difficult to include the non-disparagement clauses in Phase I, since the Phase I agreement is part of SAG’s constitution, meaning that revising Phase I would require jumping through various hoops, such as a 2/3 vote which might not be achievable, given MF’s representation on the board).

The solution? Extending the freestanding joint bargaining agreement to cover the TV/theatrical negotiations, or creating a new such agreement. So, than Phase I, we may see this reboot, or remake, or sequel instead. It’s just like going to the cinema, if your idea of a good movie includes Roberts Rules of Order.

Negotiating Committee

The UFS source told me that the joint negotiating committee would have 50-50 representation from SAG and AFTRA, with equal weight for each member. That’s a given, in that AFTRA would agree to nothing less.

The SAG portion of the committee will have 11 members from Hollywood , 4 from New York and 4 from the Regional Branch Division (i.e., everywhere else). Since the Hollywood Division, which is controlled by MF, appoints the Hollywood members of the Negotiating Committee, does that mean that the partisan split in the Committee will be 11 MF and 8 moderates? Not necessarily. SAG president Ken Howard is a Hollywood member, and it would be very bizarre for MF to refuse to seat him (and, in fact, to refuse to make him chair of the committee).

If Ken Howard gets a seat, that yields a 10 to 9 balance in MF’s favor – but only if MF is determined not to appoint any other moderates (UFS or independents) to the Hollywood contingent on the committee. If MF is not united, or if they fail to bring all of their national board members (or alternates sitting for them) to the Hollywood board meeting, then they may not be able to insist on controlling all 10 seats. The result could be 10 to 9 or so in the moderates’ favor.

In any case, most or all of the AFTRA appointees will likely be moderate in temperament, giving moderate voices a majority on the joint committee. This is what angers MF, and is why they tried in 2007-2008 to modify Phase I to AFTRA’s disadvantage.

As for when the Negotiating Committee would be appointed, the source noted that that wouldn’t happen until AFTRA had responded at its February meeting to SAG’s January initiative (assuming that’s when things play out). SAG’s next national board meeting after AFTRA’s February meeting is in April. So, at that meeting, the SAG national board would create the new Negotiating Committee and ask the divisional boards to appoint their respective members.

For Hollywood, this appointment process would happen at the next monthly Hollywood board meeting, which would probably be the May monthly meeting (it could be the April meeting, depending on when in April the Hollywood and national board meetings fall, but I suspect that the divisional board meetings precede the national board meetings).

Another note re the Negotiating Committee: the old Negotiating Committee – the one that the SAG board disbanded in January 2009 when the moderates acted by written assent (also firing the previous SAG National Executive Director) – well, the old Negotiating Committee actually still exists, or was resurrected, and is now the Standing Negotiating Committee. That’s the committee that administers the contract, granting waivers and such. Also, the Negotiating Task Force (which replaced the Negotiating Committee) still exists, though it’s dormant. In any case, these factoids are apparently of academic interest; a new Negotiating Committee will be appointed for the upcoming negotiations, though obviously some of the members will be the same.

Upcoming Board Meetings

The schedule of national board meetings for SAG and AFTRA is: Jan. 31 (SAG), February 27 (AFTRA), April (SAG), June 10 (AFTRA), Sept. 25 (AFTRA), and Oct. (SAG). Thus, if SAG does not act decisively at its January 31 meeting, a special meeting of the SAG board may be necessary in order for the process to play out so that the Negotiating Committee can be appointed and the W&W begin in a timely fashion.

Will AFTRA Agree to Joint Bargaining? Will the AMPTP?

Ideally, the unions will decide that they should indeed bargain jointly. The last thing the industry, or the unions, need is more uncertainty and inter-union conflict. All that bought last time for SAG was a one year stalemate that got SAG a worse deal than it could have obtained a year earlier, and at a cost of tens of millions of dollars in lost wages due to suspended motion picture production.

Admittedly, the suspension of Phase I did help AFTRA become viewed by the industry as a more significant player than in the past. Also, AFTRA feels burned by SAG’s actions towards it in 2007-2008 (again, this was under a previous SAG administration). Thus, AFTRA is likely to require a significant degree of reassurance from SAG that despite SAG’s still messy politics, a SAG commitment to joint bargaining would be honored. Making things even more difficult, reviving joint bargaining will require that neither union feels it is apologizing for the 2008 breakdown. It’s an extremely delicate dance.

There’s also the question of whether the AMPTP will agree to negotiate jointly, since (as far as I can tell) they don’t have to. They’ll almost certainly agree though: doing otherwise would look like the organization was actively seeking labor discord. In addition, since the AMPTP has generally found AFTRA easier to deal with, why wouldn’t they want them in the room with SAG? After all, the AMPTP engaged in joint bargaining under Phase I for 27 years. Also, separate bargaining could (and probably would) result in different contract proposals, further complicating negotiations.

Will the Early Negotiations Result in an Early Deal?

Early negotiations are one thing, but an early deal is another. SAG doesn’t have a history of reaching early agreement. However, another factor is the DGA. Their contract doesn’t expire until mid-2011 (concurrent with SAG and AFTRA Ex. A, and just two months after the WGA), but they like to negotiate early. If SAG doesn’t reach an agreement during this fall’s early negotiations, which end November 15, then the holidays pretty much ensure that there will be no further negotiating opportunities until January.

At that point, the DGA may step in and do its deal – just as it did in January 2008, after the WGA failed to do a deal (and remained on strike) in fall 2007. In other words, SAG has a chance to set the template, but only if it reaches an early agreement. Let’s hope it does, since otherwise we may see stockpiling of motion pictures (i.e., accelerated production) in early 2011, followed by a disruptive slowdown (i.e., a de facto strike or de facto lockout).

What about the WGA?

Speaking of the WGA, what role are they likely to play this time? It’s too early to predict with confidence. On the one hand, WGA members last year elected a new, more moderate president, are unlikely to want a second strike, and were never as dissatisfied with the new media deal as SAG was and probably still is. On the other hand, the WGA board is still under control of former president Patric Verrone and his allies (though who knows whether this might change in the fall) and the executive director is still David Young. With SAG negotiating in fall of this year, and the DGA negotiating most likely in January or so of 20111, I’m guessing the WGA will play a less central role this time around, but that could easily change.

The SAG Elections

Add this to the mix: Late summer and fall will bring the SAG elections, which make people even more irritable than the Santa Ana winds that arrive concurrently – though, thankfully, not as irritable as Raymond Chandler famously described in Red Wind: “On nights (when Santa Anas blow) every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen.” On the positive side, notes Chandler (and brushing past the quaint sexism of days gone noir), “you can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

In any case, those elections will no doubt be a referendum on the upcoming negotiations. Indeed, in a case of awkward timing, the new board will likely be seated in late September, just days before the early negotiations are set to start. That could be a bit disruptive. However, as with last year, the only national board members in Hollywood whose terms are up are from Membership First, since the UFS members (and moderate Morgan Fairchild) were elected in 2008 to 3 year terms. Thus, on the national board, MF can only lose ground or, at most, hold their current numbers. On the Hollywood board, the possibilities are more wide open, but given UFS’s commanding results in the 2009 elections, it’s quite possible MF will lose ground there as well.

What Else Will AFTRA be Doing?

In another quirk of scheduling, the AFTRA daytime agreement expires November 15 of this year. That’s the portion of the AFTRA agreement that AFTRA always negotiates solo, without SAG. AFTRA will probably want to negotiate starting in September as it has in the past, or perhaps a bit earlier in order to avoid bumping up against the Oct. 1 start date for SAG negotiations. Either way, AFTRA will be in the negotiating room before SAG (indeed, while SAG is still preoccupied with its elections).

There’s yet another wrinkle to this: the daytime agreement has new media sideletters that are similar to the new media sideletters for the AFTRA primetime agreement (and SAG, WGA and DGA agreements). Thus, since AFTRA will presumably be negotiating before SAG, then AFTRA daytime negotiators may be discussing new media issues before SAG does, just as was the case in 2008, in fact.

This timing may give AFTRA a first cut at revisions to the new media deal – a fact that’s unlikely to sit well with the Membership First faction of SAG, just as it didn’t in 2008. Of course, it’s also possible that AFTRA will defer a discussion of new media until October 1, if the two unions are bargaining jointly.

(BTW, I’m using “daytime agreement” as a convenient shorthand. The gory details are as follows: AFTRA has one contract that’s relevant here, called the Network Code, or “Net Code” to its friends. Exhibit A of the Net Code deals with primetime programs, and was jointly negotiated with SAG’s TV/theatrical agreements for several decades until the last negotiating cycle. The “front of the book” portions of the Net Code (i.e., most everything other than Exhibit A) deal with daytime dramas (soap operas) and other areas in which there’s no overlap with SAG and is always negotiated by AFTRA alone. Most of the guild agreements now have two sideletters relating to new media, but the Net Code has four such sideletters, of which two relate to the front of the book and two to Ex. A, although the distinction is actually rather murky.)

What Else Will SAG Discuss at its January Board Meeting?

The UFS source gave me a preview of likely subjects at the January board meeting. In addition to SAG-AFTRA joint bargaining, they include:

(1) Revising the SAG-AFTRA non-disparagement agreement so that supporters of candidates for SAG or AFTRA board can speak freely about the other union without the possibility that the supporter’s union would be sanctioned for disparagement. Currently, the non-disparagement agreement includes such an exemption for the candidates themselves, but statements by their supporters during an election do not have this protection.

(2) Amending the procedure for written assent so that the assent would have to be circulated to all board members, not just those who agree with the assent (which was the approach the moderates took with the January 2009 written assent).

(3) Reducing the initiation fee for actors who join one of SAG’s regional branches rather than LA or New York .

——

That’s a full agenda, considering that it’s a one-day video meeting rather than a two-day in-person confab.

The Corporate SAG

Now for something unexpected: a situation that puts SAG behind the looking glass, this time sitting on the management side of the table. That will happen this year, because some portion of the SAG staff is itself unionized, and is represented by Teamsters Local 986. In that context, SAG is actually management. About 50 SAG staff are members, and the Teamsters representation dates back to February 2001. Interestingly, it took five or six months to achieve a contract, and a strike authorization vote was necessary.

In any case, the contract run for 3 years, and this iteration expires June 1. Negotiations have sometimes been difficult in the past – at one point, staffers worked without a contract while negotiations continued for three months past expiration.

Certainly this round of negotiations have the potential to be bumpy, in light of the economy generally and, more particularly, the layoffs imposed by the union in 2009. Also aggravating the situation from staffers’ point of view are the significant pay increases that some guild execs received in 2008 (at a time, it should be noted, when the guild was under different leadership).

One question this history raises is whether the represented employees will get the typical 3% annual increases. My guess is probably so (after all, SAG itself secured 3.5% increases for its members). A harder issue is whether the Teamsters will push for a No Layoffs clause. I’m guessing they will. It’s a tough stance for a union to take in this economy, but the Teamsters have leverage by virtue of the calendar: SAG (as employer) can ill-afford to let the 986 contract expire and then be in a labor dispute with its own staff into the early fall as negotiations between SAG (as a union) and the AMPTP bear down. The PR fallout would be too unpleasant.

———————

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October 27, 2009

Variety: SAG stats- Diversity Lags

SAG stats: Diversity lags
Minorities, seniors, females underrepresented

By DAVE MCNARYMore Articles:

Minorities, seniors and female actors have achieved few gains in recent years in the number of film and TV roles they receive, according to casting stats released by the Screen Actors Guild.

“The diverse and multicultural world we live in today is still not accurately reflected in the portrayals we see on the screen,” SAG president Ken Howard said in a statement. “We will continue to work with producers, hiring executives and industry professionals in accurately portraying the American scene by ensuring equal access to employment opportunities for all of our members.”

The latest statistics, released Friday, showed minority performers reached a high mark in 2007, with 29.3% of total roles, and then declined last year to 27.5%.

The breakdown of film and TV roles for 2008 was 72.5% Caucasian, 13.3% African-American, 6.4% Latino-Hispanic, 3.8 Asian-Pacific Islander, 0.3% Native American and 3.8% other-unknown. SAG noted in its report that U.S. Census data from 2000 showed that the nation’s population was 73.4% Caucasian, 11.5% African-American, 10.6% Latino-Hispanic, 3.7% Asian-Pacific Islander and 0.8% Native American.

Producers who are signatory to SAG contracts are required to submit hiring data in order to examine the trends of “traditionally underemployed and disenfranchised members.”

SAG also noted that people with disabilities remain “virtually invisible” in casting even though 20% of the U.S. population has a disability.

SAG, AFTRA, Actors Equity and the WGA held the inaugural Hollywood Disabilities Forum at UCLA on Saturday.

The report noted that male actors continue to fill the majority of roles, especially in the supporting category, with about two roles for every female role.

The picture did improve slightly for older thesps.

Roles have increased for males 40 and over, with film parts up from 40% in 2006 to 43% in 2008, while TV roles increased from 40% to 42% in that period; roles for females 40 and over rose in film and TV from 26% in 2006 to 28% last year.

SAG also said that Asian-Pacific thesps were the only minority group to gain from 2007 to 2008, increasing from 3.4% to 3.8%, thanks to gains in TV.

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118010361.html?categoryid=1055&cs=1

October 21, 2009

Every Actor Should Know

Every Actor Should Know
Posted on October 20, 2009, 1:41 PM, by WW, under Media Business.

If someone says they’re an agent and then asks you to pay up front for them to represent you, there’s only one word to come back with: NO!

In fact, in California, it’s now illegal to ask for an advance fee for representing talent. AFTRA is out with a statement thanking Gov. Schwarzenegger for signing the new law.

LOS ANGELES (October 20, 2009)—The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) today praised the signing of a new California State law designed to address the problem of abusive business practices and fraud that plague the advance-fee talent industry.

On October 11, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 1319, Talent Services, which prohibits advance-fee talent services from charging money upfront and then attempting to procure employment for their clients. The new law, which was supported by AFTRA, also divides permissible advance-fee services into three categories (talent listing, talent counseling and talent training services) and enacts stricter regulations for all of them, including the requirement to post a $50,000 bond with the State and mandating the use of contracts that are clear and easy to understand.

“We are extremely pleased that the Governor has signed this bill into law,” said AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. “We are proud to have supported this legislation that will greatly benefit both the public and our members who work in the entertainment and media industries. Performers – and young performers, in particular – are especially vulnerable to scam artists and predatory business practices that fraudulently exploit their aspirations and talents. This new law will help regulate the advance-fee talent services that often cause both monetary loss and severe emotional distress to their victims and their families. We applaud State Assembly Member Paul Krekorian for introducing AB 1319, and we express our appreciation to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for working closely with us on this bill to address the concerns of AFTRA members.”

The new law also includes provisions to regulate Internet activities of various businesses (previous advance-fee legislation only covered print), and requires the insertion of language into performer contracts that states these services are not permitted to procure employment for the performer, and that function is limited only to licensed talent agents.

The bill was introduced by Assembly Member Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank) in February 2009.

SAG has announced a news conference on the subject:

Who: Ken Howard, Screen Actors Guild National President
David White, Screen Actors Guild National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator
Assemblymember Paul Krekorian
Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney Mark Lambert;
Gary Almond, Director of Operations, the Better Business Bureau, Los Angeles;
Anne Henry, Co-founder, Biz Parents;
Pamm Fair, Screen Actors Guild Deputy National Executive Director
Zino Macaluso, Screen Actors Guild National Director, Agency Relations
Casting directors, non profit groups, parents and children who will benefit from legislation

When: 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Where: Screen Actors Guild National Headquarters
SAG Actors Center, Mezzanine Level
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Parking will be validated

http://www.sagwatch.net/2009/10/every-actor-should-know/

October 20, 2009

AFTRA and SAG Approve Extension of Contracts Covering Non-Broadcast, Industrial and Educational Agreements

AFTRA and SAG Approve Extension of Contracts Covering Non-Broadcast, Industrial and Educational Agreements
By SOP newswire2

Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced today that the AFTRA Administrative Committee and Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors have approved an 18-month extension to the SAG Industrial and Educational Contract and AFTRA Code of Fair Practice for Non Broadcast/Industrial/Educational Recorded Material. The contracts, which were set to expire on Oct. 29, 2009, will now be effective Nov. 1, 2009, to April 31, 2011.

In addition to the extended term, the agreement includes a 0.5% increase in employer contributions to the Screen Actors Guild-Producers Pension and Health Plans and AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds, effective Nov. 1, 2009, and an important clarification that work produced under the contracts is not and never has been intended for the production of commercials.

Screen Actors Guild National President Ken Howard said, These contracts are critical to our members across the country and extending them gives us the opportunity to strategize ways to increase covered work under the agreements. The successful extension of the Industrial and Educational Contract directly reflects the continued importance of joint bargaining and allows our members to continue to work under a fair contract for the next year and a half, and with a bump to their pension and health. ”

Roberta Reardon, AFTRA National President praised the extension saying: Work under the Non-Broadcast/Industrial Code rarely grabs headlines or elevates performers to celebrity status. It does something far more important: it provides steady employment for thousands of union members in small and large markets across the nation. This extension will keep our members working, increase their opportunities to qualify for health and retirement benefits and will permit our unions the opportunity to organize more work for more members under this contract. ”

We`re glad to have achieved this extension jointly with AFTRA and look forward to joint negotiations again on the Industrial and Educational Contract in 2011, ” said Ray Rodriguez, the Screen Actors Guild deputy national executive director who oversees contracts.

The increase in employer contributions to our health and retirement plans, along with the confirmation by the industry that the Non-Broadcast Code cannot be used for commercial production are important achievements in this extension agreement, ” said Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., Chief Negotiator for AFTRA.

The extension agreement was negotiated by both unions under the terms of the AFL-CIO facilitated Joint Commercials Contracts Negotiating Agreement, which governs the bargaining and administration of the 2009-2012 Commercials contracts, and was expanded earlier this summer to cover the 2009 negotiation of the AFTRA Non-Broadcast/Industrial Contract and the SAG Industrial and Educational Contract. The Chief Negotiator for the Industry Lee W. Gluckman Jr., who represented the employers in the negotiations said, This extended agreement will quite beneficial to producers and their clients in growing production. The “no commercials here` clarification is also an important addition to the contract. ”

The SAG and AFTRA contracts cover performers rendering on-camera and voiceover services in sales programs, educational and training videos, informational and promotional messages seen in stores and video included in certain consumer products, and other projects that are exhibited outside of the traditional broadcast arena (with AFTRA`s contract also covering audio-only content, such as telephone messages and sound included in consumer products).

About SAG
Screen Actors Guild is the nation`s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists` rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 Branches nationwide, SAG represents more than 120,000 actors who work in film and digital motion pictures and television programs, commercials, video games, industrials, Internet and all new media formats. The Guild exists to enhance actors` working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists` rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, you can visit SAG online at SAG.org.

About AFTRA
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audiobooks, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society. Visit AFTRA online at http://www.aftra.com.

http://thesop.org/entertainment/2009/10/16/aftra-and-sag-approve-extension-of-contracts-covering-nonbroadcast-industrial-and-educational-agreements

Carol Lombardini to top AMPTP

Carol Lombardini to top AMPTP
Org names new president
By DAVE MCNARY

Lombardini_carol

The key players for the next round of guild contract talks are now in place. With another complex set of labor negotiations looming, the majors opted for stability by promoting Carol Lombardini to prexy of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. Her appointment comes eight months after Nick Counter announced his retirement following nearly 30 years as the majors’ top labor negotiator.
Lombardini is likely to face a much different dynamic in the next round of talks than she and Counter experienced in the last round, when the WGA went on strike for 100 days and SAG took a year to close its feature-primetime deal.
Presidential elections at the WGA West and SAG last month ushered in regime changes and leaders who have vowed to tone down the confrontational rhetoric that characterized the 2007-08 contract talks.
Still, the guilds and AMPTP will have to grapple with issues regarding new-media compensation, as they evaluate the residual formulas that were introduced in the most recent contracts. They’ll also likely have to address shortcomings in the guild-sponsored health and pension plans, which have been battered by the economic downturn.
The AMPTP is contractually bound to begin negotiations with SAG this time next year for the successor to the contract that expires June 30, 2011, as does the DGA deal. The WGA’s pact expires two months earlier.
Lombardini has been involved in more than 300 negotiations during a 27-year career at the AMPTP. She’s been acting prexy since Counter’s departure in March.
In the end, Lombardini was the unanimous choice among the AMPTP member companies following interviews with half a dozen candidates. Sony Pictures topper Michael Lynton, Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Barry Meyer and NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker made up the committee that oversaw the selection process.
Lombardini, viewed as more low-key than Counter, has specialized in the drafting and interpretation of contract language, while Counter focused on negotiations and strategy — a complex task given the different priorities for the congloms that dominate the AMPTP.
“I look forward to leading the AMPTP as the businesses of our member companies evolve,” Lombardini said. “I am also committed to building on my longstanding relations with our bargaining partners across the entertainment industry. The most important challenge we face is finding ways for the companies and guilds and unions to reach agreements that do everything possible to keep the business vital.”
Counter was able to maintain labor peace in Hollywood for much of his tenure at the AMPTP but became a much-vilified figure during the WGA’s walkout. Counter’s stance on new media and strategy of pursuing the controversial notion of shifting all residual formulas to a recoupment-based blueprint was widely viewed as helping solidify the resolve of WGA members to support the strike.
Studio honchos have been pleased with recent political developments within the unions. SAG has seen its leadership tilt toward a more moderate stance in the past two elections, as illustrated by Ken Howard’s appointment as prexy last month. John Wells took the reins of the WGA West, a move seen as a vote by scribes to tap into his biz relationships and experience in contract negotiations.
When Counter announced his retirement in February, the AMPTP employed a search firm that interviewed about a dozen candidates. It’s understood that Lomdardini emerged as the favorite due to her extensive background in hammering out the nuances of the labor agreements.
“She has a proven track record as a negotiator, deep knowledge of labor issues and excellent relationships throughout the industry with guilds, unions and the member companies alike,” Meyer said in a statement.
Lombardini, an attorney by training, has served as general counsel; VP of legal affairs; senior VP of legal and business affairs; and exec VP of legal and business affairs.

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118009982.html?categoryId=13&cs=1

October 1, 2009

DML SAG Results

SAG: Four Hardline Horsemen in the National Board Room

Posted: 27 Sep 2009 03:29 PM PDT

Thursday’s SAG election was a victory for the moderate coalition. Yet, strangely enough, the leaders of the losing hardline faction will all find seats on the national board, and will continue to be a shadow government within the union’s Hollywood board—a board on which none of the key moderate leaders will be voting members.

Yes, the moderates (Unite for Strength (UFS) / USAN / RBD / independents) won the national offices – President and Secretary-Treasurer – and picked up additional national board seats and many on the Hollywood board as well. But with SAG, the story is never simple.

In fact, paradoxically, 1st VP and failed Membership First presidential candidate Anne-Marie Johnson will probably continue as 1st VP, ex-president Alan Rosenberg will almost certainly be back on the national board in a matter of days despite winning only an alternate seat, MF leader David Joliffe will probably be on the Hollywood board and effectively on the national board, and MF leader Kent McCord continues on the national and Hollywood boards.

Meanwhile, none of the key moderate leaders will be on the Hollywood board— Unite for Strength leaders Ned Vaughn, Assaf Cohen, Ken Howard and Amy Aquino are all off of that board, at least as voting members (the latter two will serve ex-officio, as non-voting members). Tough independent and former presidential candidate Morgan Fairchild remains, but she’s not a member of the UFS slate and thus doesn’t occupy a leadership position in that group. UFS-ers Adam Arkin and Amy Brenneman also remain, and perhaps will emerge to fill the gap.

How could the election yield so much change in the national offices and so little in the Hollywood Division? Here’s the scenario [UPDATED: Para. 3 is new.]:

1. The moderates seemingly have 27 seats on the Hollywood board out of 55 (because 27 = 6 seats pre-election plus 21 additional seats won in the election). That’s a tad less than half (49%). It would seemingly take peeling off one more vote from MF for the moderates to control the Hollywood board.

2. However, look closer. One of those 6 pre-election seats was held by Ken Howard. Under the SAG Constitution and By-Laws, a national officer can’t also be an elected member of the national board or a Divisional board. So, the day he became president, Howard lost his elected seat on the national and Hollywood boards, and, indeed, his name has been replaced on SAG website listings with “(1 TBD).” That leaves the moderates with 26 seats on the Hollywood board out of 54. That’s less than half by an even greater margin (48%). Now it would take 2 more votes, rather than just one, for the moderates to control the Hollywood board.

3. But, when it comes to electing officers (such as 1st VP) or selecting replacements for the Hollywood and national boards, the news is even bleaker for moderates. That’s because the Hollywood Division Rules of Procedure specify that for such purposes, the only Hollywood Division board members who can vote are national board members (or alternates sitting in for them) from the Hollywood Division. There are 32 such people (33 minus the vacant Ken Howard seat). The moderates control only 9 of those seats, whereas MF has 23.

4. So, Membership First controls who the Hollywood board elects, unless 8 MF-ers break ranks. If that doesn’t happen (and it’s not likely), then MF will fill the TBD vacancy. Whom will they select? Almost certainly Alan Rosenberg, whom they would elevate from national board alternate (which is the office he won on Thursday) to full national board member from the Hollywood division.

5. Thus, although Rosenberg ’s presidency was so discredited in many members’ eyes that he couldn’t even win a board seat, he’s likely to end up with one anyway. This would take place at the next Hollywood board meeting, which is scheduled for October 5.

6. Elevating Rosenberg leaves his alternate seat vacant. So, MF would then vote to appoint its longtime leader David Joliffe as a national alternate (and Hollywood board member). That effectively appoints him to the national board, because one or more of MF celebrity board members (which include Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Elliott Gould and Ed Asner) will usually be absent from national board meetings.

7. MF will also presumably vote to appoint newly reelected board member Anne-Marie Johnson as 1st VP (the VP office from Hollywood) and thus as Divisional chair, to the extent that she doesn’t automatically continue in these offices (note that the updated SAG website still lists her as 1st VP and divisional rules say that the 1st VP is also the chair). This is possible because Johnson ran for two seats in this election—president, but also, as a backup, national board member. She won the latter.

8. As a result, MF will have skilled leadership as voting members in the Hollywood board room, namely, all four of its core leaders: Johnson, Rosenberg, Jolliffe and, continuing on the national and Hollywood boards, Kent McCord.

9. In contrast, Unite for Strength will have none of its leaders as voting members in the Hollywood boardroom: Ned Vaughn and Assaf Cohen didn’t win seats on the Hollywood or national boards, and Ken Howard and Amy Aquino, as national officers, are non-voting, ex officio members of the Hollywood board, as well as the NY and RBD (Regional Branch Division) boards. One wonders whether Howard and/or Aquino will be able to find time to attend every Hollywood board meeting. In any case, their formal roles would be very circumscribed; under the Constitution and By-Laws, they’re not even allowed to make motions or “initiate any other parliamentary procedures.”

10. Note also that the Hollywood board gets to appoint the Hollywood members of the TV/theatrical contract negotiating committee, if there is one, and that Hollywood has a majority on that committee. That suggests that negotiation will once again have to be handled by a task force appointed by the whole board, not by a committee appointed on a Division by Division basis. (It’s unclear to me whether the task force appointed earlier this year is still in existence.) Unless, that is, SAG and AFTRA are able to reestablish joint bargaining under the Phase 1 agreement.

11. Remember too that it was the Hollywood board that passed a resolution expressing the goal that SAG “acquire actors of AFTRA,” i.e. in some mystical fashion divesting AFTRA of its actors and absorbing all of them in SAG. Anne-Marie Johnson ran for and won a seat on the AFTRA board—despite saying it was distasteful to run—giving her an internal platform for this goal as well. We can expect MF to seek to terminate the anti-disparagement agreement so that the Hollywood board will be free to express its anti-AFTRA views without financial repercussion to SAG.

Bottom line: SAG’s byzantine governance structure and geographical divisiveness will once again facilitate disunity. Among other things, the question becomes, will SAG and AFTRA be able to reestablish Phase 1 joint bargaining? The divided governance certainly makes it harder.

———————

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September 25, 2009

SAG Election Results are in!

SAG elects Ken Howard president
Amy Aquino chosen as secretary-treasurer
By Jay A. Fernandez

Sept 24, 2009, 10:24 PM ET

Updated: Sept 24, 2009, 11:10 PM ET
There are surely more conflicts to come, but the Screen Actors Guild membership on Thursday night settled a big one: Ken Howard has been elected the union’s new national president.

Running mate Amy Aquino beat two-time incumbent Connie Stevens in the race for secretary-treasurer. Howard and Aquino will serve two-year terms beginning Friday.

For the moment, at least, the outcomes indicate that a winning 47.2% of the voting segment of SAG’s roughly 120,000 members prefers the less strident approach of the self-styled moderate wing of the party represented by Unite for Strength.

Howard collected 12,895 votes, or 3,989 more than MembershipFirst candidate Anne-Marie Johnson, who received 32.6% of the 27,295 votes cast. Independents Seymour Cassel and Asmar Muhammad garnered 17.7% and 1.5%, respectively, in their bid for the presidency.

UFS came together last year in opposition and in January led a boardroom coup at SAG, installed new negotiators and salvaged a deal with Hollywood producers nearly a year after sister union AFTRA had ratified its own contract. Johnson is part of a separate coalition, Membership First, that was shunted to the board’s minority and saw its leader, president Alan Rosenberg, muzzled on most official guild business.

Howard, who picked up an acting Emmy on Sunday for his role in HBO’s “Grey Gardens,” campaigned on bringing a more collaborative approach to relationships with AFTRA, the DGA and WGA. Segments of those groups were alienated by the often-heated rhetoric of Rosenberg and 1st national vp Johnson.

“I campaigned on the promise that I’d do everything in my power to strengthen our position at the bargaining table by building a greater unity with AFTRA and the other entertainment unions, and that’s exactly what I intend to do,” Howard said. “Despite the sharp differences that those of us active in guild affairs sometimes have over strategy and tactics, we need to continually remind ourselves that we’re all on the same team, fighting for the same thing — and by pulling together, we’ll only grow stronger.”

UFS expanded the narrow majority it established on the 71-member national board in the September 2008 elections. The next Hollywood board meeting with newly seated members is scheduled for Oct. 5.

In concert with the national result, Mike Hodge was elected president of SAG’s New York branch, succeeding Sam Freed, who passed the moderate baton to his fellow United Screen Actors Nationwide member.

Hodge defeated Mitchell Green, a SAGNOW partisan affiliated with the more hard-line MembershipFirst faction. USAN, which is affiliated with UFS, has dominated SAG politics in New York in the recent past.

The results seem to reflect an industrywide fatigue resulting from the 2007-08 writers strike and the protracted SAG contract negotiations that ended in June. Last week, the WGA elected John Wells to the top slot over the more hard-line Writers United candidate Elias Davis. The rest of the WGA officers, however, were split with Writers United.

Among the immediate challenges facing Howard are retention of coverage of network pilots and the next round of negotiations for a new TV-theatrical contract. As part of the last deal, SAG agreed to start seven weeks of bargaining with the AMPTP as early as October 2010.

Additionally, the shifting economic and labor landscape has resulted in a looming decrease in benefits and increase in premiums beginning in January as a result of investment losses and decreased employer contributions. The damaged pension and health benefits situation became a political hot potato during the campaign.

Mending fences with sister unions DGA, WGA and AFTRA is a high priority for Howard as well. AFTRA members re-elected Roberta Reardon to the presidency in early August. As a UFS candidate, Howard preached the benefit of a collective approach with AFTRA and its roughly 70,000 members in negotiations with the studios and networks, an approach that was abandoned by the previous SAG regime.

The presence of Cassel in the election surely cost Johnson some votes, since he also remains a stalwart MembershipFirst partisan. Cassel narrowly lost to Rosenberg in the 2007 election, but he was dinged by an internal sexual harassment case against him that became public during this most recent campaign.

The National Board members elected Thursday will assume office Friday for terms of three years.

SAG’s Hollywood Division elected 11 National Board members; the New York division elected four National Board members; and seven National Board members were elected from the union’s branches in Chicago, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Philadelphia, Portland and San Diego.

National Board members elected from the Hollywood Division in addition to Sheen, Harris, Johnson, Stevens and Ladd were Elliott Gould, Ed Asner, Dule Hill, Hill Harper, Nancy Travis and Marcia Wallace (all three-year terms).

The following were elected to serve as National Board alternates and to the Hollywood division board (all one-year terms): Rosenberg, Gabrielle Carteris, Jenny O’Hara, Michael O’Keefe, Clyde Kusatsu, Dawnn Lewis, Doug Savant, Michelle Allsopp, D.W. Moffett, Joe Bologna, Robert Hays, Jason George, L. Scott Caldwell, Clark Gregg, Patrick Fabian, Bill Smitrovich, Ellen Crawford, Stacey Travis, Mandy Steckelberg, Renee Taylor, Bernie Casey and John Carroll Lynch.

National Board members elected from the New York division: Freed, Sharon Washington, Monica Trombetta and Liz Zazzi (all three-year terms).

The following were elected to serve as national board alternates and to the New York division board of directors (all one-year terms): Manny Alfaro, Sheila Head, Marc Baron, Joe Narciso, Jay Potter, Dave Bachman, John Rothman, Kevin Scullin and Justin Barrett.

National Board members elected from the Regional Branch division, all with three-year terms: John Carter Brown (Chicago), David Hartley-Margolin (Colorado), Dave Corey (Florida), Scott Rogers (Hawaii), Helen McNutt (Philadelphia), Mary McDonald-Lewis (Portland) and Don Ahles (San Diego).

Ballots for all eligible SAG members in Hollywood and New York were mailed on Aug. 25.

September 11, 2009

SAG P & H Plans

Fellow SAG Members,

You’ve just received the latest edition of TAKE 2, the newsletter of SAG’s Pension and Health Plans, and like me, you were probably troubled by what you read:

“According to federal guidelines established by the Pension Protection Act of 2006, the [Pension] Plan is in the orange zone and considered to be seriously endangered.”

“So far this year, contributions generated from employment-based earnings are down 10%. This represents the largest drop in plan history and does not account for the full impact of the decrease in SAG-covered television pilots, which has yet to be realized.”

HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS GOING UP
You also read that starting January 1st, our Health Insurance premiums are going up: 66% higher for Plan One, 50% higher for Plan Two, and 92% higher for Plan Two “age & service” coverage. And for the first time in the Plan’s history, all Senior Performers will now have to pay monthly premiums.

PENSION ACCRUAL RATE COMING DOWN
The funding decline of our Pension Plan means that corrective action must be taken, or “the Pension Plan could enter the red zone, (the most critical status under the PPA) and risk a funding deficiency under federal law, which would require even stronger action to correct.” As a result, effective Jan. 1, 2010, the pension accrual rate will be lowered from 3.5% to 2.0%, a drop of 42%.

This is very serious news, but it’s equally important to point out that these reductions do not apply to any pension you are currently receiving, or any benefits you have already accrued. By taking action now, the Plans will preserve their ability to pay those promised benefits.

However, as the Plan Trustees noted in their newsletter, the outlook for future benefits is less secure.

Investment losses hurt benefit plans across the country last year, including SAG’s – even though the Guild’s plans fared better than most in that regard. But earnings-based contributions have suffered their worst drop ever, and this does not reflect the future effects of SAG covering only 10% of the 2009 TV pilots. The cost of the decision last year to fight with AFTRA rather than partner with them on our biggest contract negotiation has already been deeply felt, but it hasn’t been fully realized yet.

YOUR VOTE WILL DECIDE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
I support my family as an actor and I couldn’t do it without solid health insurance and the expectation of a secure pension when I retire. Many of you are in the same boat… but even if you’re not, we all understand just how crucial those benefits are.

Will we go back to fighting with AFTRA and further endanger our benefit plans? Or will we unite with AFTRA to increase our bargaining power and strengthen the security of our health and pension benefits? This election will determine our course.

It’s clearer than ever that we cannot go back to the go-it-alone approach. That’s why I’m asking you to vote for Ken Howard, Amy Aquino and me, along with all the other UFS board candidates. And please spread this message to every SAG member you know. It has never been more important to make sure that all your friends and colleagues vote.

Respectfully,

Ned Vaughn

For more information about our candidates and to see all the UFS videos, please visit http://www.UniteforStrength.com

**UNITE FOR STRENGTH VOTING GUIDE**

President – KEN HOWARD
Secretary-Treasurer – AMY AQUINO

Board of Directors – Please vote for ALL 33 board candidates below. DO NOT vote for more than 33 board candidates or your ballot will not be counted.

1 – Michelle Allsopp
6 – Patrick Fabian
9 – Jason George
10 – Dawnn Lewis
11 – Woody Schultz
12 – Michael O’Keefe
14 – Clark Gregg
19 – David Lawrence
20 – Amir Talai
21 – Doug Savant
22 – Dule Hill
23 – Clyde Kusatsu
25 – Tim DeKay
28 – Assaf Cohen
34 – Scotty Caldwell
35 – D.W. Moffett
39 – Mandy Steckelberg
40 – Richard Speight, Jr.
43 – Jenny O’Hara
52 – Gabrielle Carteris
55 – Hill Harper
57 – Bill Smitrovich
58 – Bob Bergen
59 – Ned Vaughn
60 – Nancy Travis
62 – Gregory Itzin
64 – Ellen Crawford
67 – Stacey Travis
73 – Christian Clemenson
74 – Conrad Palmisano
75 – Richard Fancy
81 – Marcia Wallace
82 – John Carroll Lynch

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

September 1, 2009

Info about SAG candidates

More than 70 percent of us SAG members across these United States voted to ratify the t.v./theatrical contract.  That contract represents the work of the Unite for Strength board members.  We supported them then – let’s support them now.

Presidential candidate Ken Howard and Secretary Treasurer candidate Amy Aquino are a powerful duo.  Sober of thought, experienced beyond measure, and they have a real, personal stake in the welfare of the union and the contracts.  

Anne Marie Johnson is running for SAG president – I find it simply galling.  I was struck by the mailer that MF sent round… It refers to Anne Marie’s dedication to Screen Actors Guild, its members, and “unionism.”

The card fails to mention her current ongoing lawsuit against her own Guild that has cost our members $171,000 (and counting) or her disparagement of a sister union which may very well result in SAG paying a hefty fine.

Your ballot is either in your mail, in the hands of your business manager, or perhaps you have already sent it in.  

Please this opportunity to VOTE UNITE FOR STRENGTH.  Please vote the entire SLATE.

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