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February 2, 2010

SAG and AFTRA

SAG Moves towards Joint Bargaining with AFTRA
By Jonathan Handel

Posted: 31 Jan 2010 11:35 PM PST

The SAG National Board yesterday passed a resolution, by a surprising 82% to 18% vote, directing the guild’s president and National Executive Director to “seek engagement with AFTRA in a joint bargaining agreement for negotiation of the Television/Theatrical Contract,” as quoted in a SAG press release. This move is as I predicted in a blog post three weeks ago, based on conversations then with a confidential source.

Those negotiations, scheduled for October 1 – November 15 of this year, would take place “under the terms of Phase One, modeled on the agreement used successfully in the 2009 Commercials Contract negotiations,” per the resolution. Phase One is the 1981 agreement between the two unions under which they have jointly bargained with the studios for almost three decades, with the notable exception of 2007-2009.

The margin was unexpected, since the board is almost evenly divided between factions that support joint bargaining (Unite for Strength and an independent in Los Angeles, and most or all members of the New York and regional boards) and a group (Membership First) that has generally expressed bitter opposition to joint bargaining under Phase One, a framework that gives SAG and AFTRA equal weight on the negotiating committee. (Because of the lateness of the hour, it was not possible to explore this issue with sources, and a call to a SAG spokesperson was not immediately returned.)

The resolution also directs the President, Ken Howard, and National Executive Director, David White, to “bring a recommendation to the National Board at the earliest opportunity.” The urgency presumably stems in part from the fact that AFTRA’s next national board meeting is February 27 meeting, and more generally from the constraints created by the October 1 date and the various processes leading up to it, as I have previously discussed. The TV/theatrical contract doesn’t expire until June 30, 2011, but the agreement reached last year between the studios and SAG mandates early bargaining, specifically, from October 1 through November 15.

The SAG press release is below.

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SAG National Board of Directors Meets via
Videoconference in Los Angeles and New York

Los Angeles, (January 31, 2010) – Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors voted today to seek engagement with AFTRA in a joint bargaining agreement for negotiation of the Television/Theatrical Contract. Approved 82 to 18 percent, the resolution states:

“It was moved and seconded that in light of SAG’s historically productive negotiating partnership with AFTRA, the SAG National Board of Directors directs President Ken Howard and National Executive Director David White to seek engagement with AFTRA in a joint bargaining agreement for negotiation of the Television/Theatrical Contract, under the terms of Phase One, modeled on the agreement used successfully in the 2009 Commercials Contract negotiations. President Howard and NED White shall bring a recommendation to the National Board at the earliest opportunity.”

Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard said, “I am very pleased with the vote and thank the Board for their leadership and foresight on this important issue. I so appreciate the Board’s cooperative spirit in this discussion and throughout the day, and feel confident that our Guild is moving in the right direction.”

In other actions, the National Board voted unanimously to create a National Performance Capture Committee to address the unique concerns and experiences of members who render performances that are recorded using “performance capture” technology across all media, and to advise the Guild on all matters pertaining to work in this rapidly growing area.

The board also approved 83 percent to 17 percent the unanimous recommendation of the finance committee to authorize the extension of existing initiation fee reductions in targeted markets across the country and to have the Guild’s Joint Strategic Planning and Finance Committee review the initiation fee structure nationwide.

Reports
The national board received reports from elected leadership and staff including:

• President Howard memorialized those members who have passed away over the last year reading each name aloud and calling for a moment of silent remembrance. Howard also recognized the recent loss of former Houston Branch President and board member Jim Huston, who passed away January 28, 2010.

Mary McDonald-Lewis, Regional Branch Division board member from Portland, Oregon, delivered a special tribute to Huston, saying, “He stood with his brothers and sisters through the best of times and the worst of times, and did so with resolve.“

• Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino delivered a report on the Guild’s second quarter financial results noting that SAG’s revenue and expenses are closely tracking the projections for fiscal year 2010. Aquino also provided an update on investment performance indicating recoupment of certain losses in the Guild’s investment portfolio when compared to the prior year.

• National Executive Director David White reported on the strategic planning efforts underway at the Guild and preparation for negotiations. White updated the board on new institutional and member service initiatives including a revitalized organizing strategy and program. White applauded SAG committee members and staff for their innovative and thoughtful work in key areas including the 2010 SAG Awards, government relations and legislative activities, new media outreach activities, and the LifeRaft Live Streaming partnership with SAG Foundation, among other efforts.

The Board also appointed Deputy National Executive Director of Contracts Ray Rodriguez to the Screen Actors Guild-Producers Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund (IACF) board and addressed a number of governance matters, including a constitutional amendment regarding written assent procedures; an amendment to Branch rules of procedure; advisory recommendations from the annual national membership meeting; amendments to the election guidelines; and a recommendation to study the feasibility of electronic voting.

The meeting adjourned just after 5:00 p.m. PST.

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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Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment law and digital media law. Go to the blog itself to subscribe via RSS or email. Or, follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, or subscribe to my Huffington Post articles. If you work in tech, check out my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

September 20, 2009

DML SAG VP Video

AMJ: If I’m Elected, David White is Out

Posted: 18 Sep 2009 01:26 PM PDT

In a campaign video, Membership First’s candidate for SAG president, Anne-Marie Johnson says that one her first proposals as new president would be to recommend to the national board that “a search committee be seated . . . immediately” to replace SAG interim National Executive Director David White. Ousted NED Doug Allen would “probably” not come back.

That’s the same David White under whose administration (and chief negotiator John McGuire) multiple SAG collective bargaining agreements were finally signed, including the two largest: the TV/theatrical contract, which Membership First stalemated for a year, and the commercials contract, which was delayed by that stalemate. In contrast, Membership First, under the Doug Allen administration, closed no deals at all.

Johnson justifies her position by asserting White has made clear he was solely the interim NED, but that seems misleading: so far as I’m aware, White never said he didn’t want the job on a permanent basis. So far as I’m aware, White has never taken a public position on this one way or the other.

So if AMJ wants White out, would Doug Allen be coming back? Johnson says she has “no idea.” After praising Allen, she goes on the speculate that he’s doing other things and would “probably not be available for the job.”

The video is about 9 minutes long; the discussion of the NED begins about 3 minutes into it and continues for several minutes.

June 2, 2009

Report from Crazytown (letter) by Mike Farrell (From MASH as BJ Honeycut) (Feb. 8, 2009)

Report from Crazytown February 8, 2009 Because the board of the Hollywood Division of SAG now allows members from its area to attend board meetings (after signing a form about no-no’s), I thought it would be worthwhile to see if they’d let me in to watch the February 2nd meeting last week.  This was the first meeting scheduled after National Executive Director Doug Allen was fired by the National Board and replaced by Interim NED David White, who I knew when he was SAG’s General Counsel from 2002 to 2006. 

Because Doug Allen’s hard-nosed style made him the champion and the favorite of the Membership First faction that hired him, and because said faction continues to control the Hollywood Board even after losing control of the National Board in the last election, this meeting, being David White’s first as NED promised to be interesting.

To set the stage, as it were… Membership First is the current name of the faction that, in essence, split our union into ‘political’ groups. Organizing an effort to assert control over the Guild in the 90s, this group succeeded in defeating then-President Richard Masur and installing William Daniels, their titular head, as president.  The Daniels Administration led us into the commercials strike of 2000, torpedoed a Masur-led effort to solve problems between SAG and the ATA (the collection of agents representing most of the working actors), re-wrote the Guild’s constitution and, in general, disdained and tried to minimize the input, effect and value of members in the New York and Regional Branch Divisions of our national union.

This Hollywood-centric group, operating under different names but known in recent years as Membership First (MF), has demonstrated a proclivity for tactics and rhetoric that have caused it to be referred to in the media as the ‘militant’ faction of SAG.

In the years my wife, Shelley Fabares, and I served as National Board members and on the Hollywood Division Board (Approx. 2001 – 2005) – Shelley for three years on both Boards and I for three years as SAG’s First VP under President Melissa Gilbert and one year as a National and Hollywood Board member – we worked hard, along with allies in Hollywood, New York and the Regional Branch Division, to repair what we saw as the damage done by the attitudes, choices and behaviors of the Hollywood-centric-types who continued to be a loud and often obstructionist presence in the union by dint of their strength on the Hollywood Board.

During our terms, for example, they sabotaged an agreement we negotiated with the ATA agents, waged a dishonest campaign that just barely kept the consolidation and Affiliation agreement (that would have merged AFTRA and SAG and averted our current problems) from succeeding, and made life so desirable for our bright, inventive and gutsy NED, Bob Pisano, that he decided to step aside and allow the position to be taken over by the terrific man who had been running AFTRA, Greg Hessinger.

In the 2005 elections, Membership First achieved its long-sought goal by attaining enough votes in Hollywood to give it control over the majority of the Guild’s National Board, with the single voice of moderation in Hollywood provided by the incredibly courageous Morgan Fairchild, who has maintained her seat, and somehow her sanity, in the ensuing years.

The first National Board meeting under this new majority and its president, Alan Rosenberg, engineered the firing of Greg Hessinger and the abrogation of the contracts of two executives he had hired, acts that cost the Guild’s members hundreds of thousands of dollars and a significant portion of the union’s already-battered reputation. 

Deteriorating relations with New York and the Branches were then exacerbated by the hiring of Doug Allen and a new, even more assertive posture for the Guild. This new energy resulted in the quick, embarrassing defeat of Mr. Allen’s attempt to force the ATA agents into an agreement, assaults on AFTRA that nearly destroyed SAG’s 30-year-old Phase One relationship with that sister union, a now 7-months-long stalemate in negotiations between SAG and the AMPTP, the infamous attempt to scuttle AFTRA’s contract with the AMPTP, and a wasteful, expensive, tone-deaf campaign for a strike authorization in the midst of our country’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The growing confusion, upset and dissatisfaction of the membership then resulted in the election, last September, of a significant number of independent, non-MF actors to the Hollywood board.  Coalescing as Unite for Strength – their primary focus reuniting with AFTRA – these new faces on the Hollywood Board joined with Morgan Fairchild to bring a different, more rational energy to the National Board’s majority.  

In the first meeting of the newly-constituted National Board on January 12th, 13th, they put forth a motion to fire NED Doug Allen and disband the Membership-First-dominated negotiating committee that had been unable to complete an agreement with the AMPTP.  This effort by the majority was frustrated by a series of parliamentary tricks and filibustering that refused to allow a vote on the measure.  This unprecedented attempt to frustrate the will of the majority, orchestrated by the now-minority MFs and abetted by the Chair, President Alan Rosenberg, succeed in making SAG an industry-wide laughing stock by creating a 28-hour board meeting at which no business was allowed to be done.  None.

Told that any future attempts to assert their authority and fire Doug Allen would meet the same impasse, the Board majority used a little-known constitutional owner granting them the authority to act outside a meeting and, on about January 26th, presented a “written assent” signed by the majority of SAG’s National Board members to the Guild’s legal counsel.  This document, verified and accepted by SAG’s counsel and outside advisers, fired Doug Allen, installed David White as Interim NED, disbanded the negotiating committee, replaced it with a Task Force made up of members from all divisions, and named John McGuire, a 40-year SAG staff member and veteran negotiator, as the Guild’s chief negotiator.

As you might imagine, President Rosenberg, 1st VP Ann-Marie Johnson and their MF colleagues were not happy.  Thus, my interest in attending the February 2nd Hollywood Board meeting.

Told that the MFs had arranged for a protest demonstration outside the SAG offices before the meeting and had asked their supporters to stack the list of spectators, I tried to get on the list and failed. Hearing that one could wait in line and be admitted if the available seats were not all filled, former National Board member and Guild Treasurer James Cromwell and I went to the SAG offices early and stood in the Stand-By line hoping to be allowed in.

When the demonstration outside concluded, many of those in or watching it came into the lobby and joined us in line. Some were from the stunt community and some were background actors, two constituencies the MFs have formed ties with. As we waited, a few of them engaged us in conversation, questioning how we could support an end to residuals, the “gagging” of President Rosenberg, the illegal firing of Mr. Allen, and a list of terribles they had been told by their MF leaders. We explained, over time, that none of this was true and some of them actually listened.  We learned, as well, that a lawsuit and request for a temporary restraining order were being filed by President Rosenberg, VP Ann-Marie Johnson and two MF National Board members, Kent McCord, and Diane Ladd, challenging the firing of Doug Allen. Did I say obstructionist?

We were allowed into the crowded meeting, given further instructions as to what visitors could not do, and then brought into the Cagney Room to be seated. The meeting began forty minutes late, due, we were told, to the unusual number of visitors this evening.  VP Ann-Marie Johnson, an intelligent and articulate woman, chaired the meeting, explained what would take place, and then asked staff, board members and the visitors each to introduce themselves.  After a couple of pieces of routine business, Ms. Johnson read the statement of the chair (the VP chairs the Division meetings, President Rosenberg chairs only National Board meetings), which was interesting.  With new Interim NED David White to her immediate left, she spoke strongly against the action of the majority (without mentioning the lawsuit she was filing) and lauded the no-longer-employed Doug Allen as the strongest and best leader and negotiator in SAG’s history.  This, of course, was met with wild applause from the MF majority and many in the peanut gallery around us.

I don’t recall if it was before or after the statement of the chair, but Ilyanne Kichaven, Hollywood’s Executive Director, made an eloquent pitch for unity which was roundly applauded and quickly forgotten. Next, Ms. Johnson introduced David White, explaining that he would speak, the floor would be open for questions, and then she would allow statements from the members.

David White gave a brief account of his background; acknowledged that he knew many of those on the board from his years as General Counsel, spoke a bit about his personal philosophy, his view of and affection for the Guild, and how he intended to fulfill his obligations as Interim NED.   He kept it short and left the rest of the time for questions.

As expected, it was a grilling. The questions were quickly reminiscent of the “are you now or have you ever been” era.  Who approached you about taking this job?  I want names!  When did they approach you?  On what date?  You were hired as Legal Counsel by Bob Pisano: do you have a continuing relationship with Bob Pisano: did Bob Pisano arrange for you to get this job?  Have you spoken with Bob Pisano about the job?  What is the nature of your relationship with Bob Pisano?

Clearly, they thought they could tar David with an association to someone they hate – and because they hate him they think everyone else does.  But David was great.  He explained, patiently, that he worked for the law firm that Pisano had met with and was hired for the job.

No, he said, Pisano did not have anything to do with his being offered this job.

Then, when the interrogator asked if Pisano had called him, he said, “Yes.  After word got out that I had agreed to take the job, Bob Pisano called me and said, “What the hell are you doing?’”

It got a great laugh.  Try as they could, they couldn’t rile him and over time only made themselves look smaller and more petty. Because each questioner had a limited time, it quickly became clear that there was a prepared list of questions – a kind of script – that was passed along from one MF to the other, all intending to expose what they saw as a gross conspiracy perpetrated by evildoers that had stripped them of their champion, not to mention their majority.  The toxic tone in the room quickly took me back to our time on the board, a period rife with personal attacks, lies, power plays and histrionics.  After one of our first meetings, I remember Shelley, exhausted and near tears, saying, “These people claim to be union supporters, Democrats, but they behave like the Bush Administration!”

What was wonderful was watching David White respond, calmly, clearly, patiently, to each question, brushing aside the sarcasm and the lousy implications and giving the facts as he knew them. They wanted to know how much he was being paid and who had negotiated his contract, to which he said his contract was only now being negotiated.  When he started to answer the question about his salary he was interrupted by SAG’s General Counsel, Duncan Crabtree, who pointed out to the board members that some of this information was inappropriate for an open meeting and should only be discussed in Executive Session.

After the interminable questions ended, having been lightened only by a few welcoming notes offered by some of the non-MF members, Ann-Marie called an end to the questions and opened the floor to statements. And now it got nasty. Possibly because David had handled his end of things so well, many of the questions became spears thrown at the non-MF members present and the National Board in general.  How dare they use this illegal device, the “written assent,” to fire Doug Allen?  Did they lack the courage to debate the issue openly and allow everyone to vote on it?

This, it was clear, was for the benefit of their supporters who were avidly listening and applauding every time a nasty shot underscored one of the talking points they’d been fed. Finally, one of the new board members was able to speak to these charges and explain that when they had tried to do just that, to debate the issue in the National Board meeting and vote on it – (at this point the Chair tried to cut him off, saying it would be inappropriate to discuss what had happened at the National Board meeting.  He, however, was not cowed by her and said he had no intention of talking about the business of the meeting and went on, explaining) – they had not been allowed a discussion or a debate for the length of the meeting, which left the ‘written assent’ as their only avenue to achieve the will of the majority.

After this, more MFs claimed Alan Rosenberg had been “gagged.”  How could people who believe in free speech do such a thing, they wanted to know?  But none of them acknowledged, or mentioned, that then Doug Allen was in charge he and Alan Rosenberg would not allow any of the elected officers to speak officially, even to his or her own division members, without having what they wrote edited by Hollywood.  What the written assent did was, in essence, the same thing, saying that Rosenberg could speak or write his own opinion, but no longer could he speak officially for the union without clearing it with the majority.

However, true to form, the next speaker and the next and the next continued the barrage of assaults on the now-hated majority.  They spat out words like “unity” as a curse and swore there would never be unity.  They spewed vitriol on the new members and said those who signed the ‘written assent’ did so in blood. (I don’t remember the exact words, but it was about ‘blood’ on the document.) It was awful. I remember when we were part of the board, trying to explain the level of toxicity in these meetings to other actors and finally coming to the understanding that you actually had to be in the room to “get” it.  And here we were in the room again, getting it. Poor Jamie had his head in his hands half the time.

The harangue ended, finally.  The strategic mistake the new members, the rational members made, I think, was allowing Ann-Marie to cut off the list of speakers when only her MF colleagues were lined up to spew.  It allowed them to dump on David, to harangue the new members and to condemn the written assent and what they called the unfairness, the gagging, the illegality of it all, without any rational response.

When a break was called I walked over to say hello to Morgan and some of the new members.  I could see their shock. This was not something they had experienced before, it appeared, and one of them even told me he was thinking about not coming back.  I encouraged him to stick it out – not only to stick it out but to encourage his friends to run for board seats this year so the rational voices could take Hollywood back.

Jamie and I left, shaking our heads at the behavior of these people once again.  But maybe, we said, just maybe if enough people care about their union to put in some time, we can get it back on the rails.

The next day, as you know, Rosenberg, et al’s suit and request for a TRO were filed.  That knocked the scheduled reopening of negotiations with the AMPTP off the tracks again.  A couple of days later the judge refused the restraining order and said he thought the lawsuit had little chance of success.  Rosenberg’s lawyer said they’d appeal. But today, I hear, the National Board met once again and, after another attempt at filibuster, the majority succeeded in passing all the ‘written assent’ motions in a meeting, so the negotiations are again rumored to begin this month. It’s your union.

Mike

 

Pilot Season 94% AFTRA (Mar. 11, 2009)

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 5:52 pm
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Digital Media Law

 

 

Pilot Season 94% AFTRA

 

66 out of 70 TV pilots this year will be shot under AFTRA jurisdiction, reports the Hollywood Reporter today. That’s 94% for AFTRA and only 6% for SAG. Meanwhile, I’ve been told somewhat different numbers that calculate out to about 87% AFTRA. Either way, it’s a 180 from typical figures, as I’m told that AFTRA typically has 10% or fewer pilots.

Who’s to credit for this development? Primarily Membership First, the SAG hardline faction whose obstructionism over the last year has also led to SAG members working under 2007-2008 rates, while AFTRA members have enjoyed a 3.5% raise since June 30 of last year. The pilot flip-flop is also due to the cost advantages of digital production as opposed to film, but the SAG hardliners’ tactics have clearly accelerated the transition, and the studios are unlikely to turn back in years to come.

It’s ironic that Membership First, whose partisans generally hate AFTRA, has turned out to be one of the best things to have happened to that union in a long time. By holding out for the best deal imaginable, rather than the best deal achievable, MF boosted its rival.

Now SAG’s new management is left with seven expired (or, in one case, nearly expired) contracts, as well as TV/theatrical negotiations so stale that contract expiration date has become a major issue. Cleaning up MF’s mess will be a tall order: not only have the hard-liners driven pilots (and thus series) away, they’ve educated the industry that it can function without SAG, at least in TV. Nick Counter, the retiring head of the AMPTP (studio alliance), could scarcely have asked for a better going away present.

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More Complaining about Membership First!!!! (Mar. 6, 2009)

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 5:22 pm
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Unite For Strength has answered the shots taken by Anne Marie Johnson below.  Not surprising, given their record of sticking to the business they were elected to do, they have not put energy into the fact that Ann Marie used the Call Sheet for her personal opinion piece while previously having censored two other National VP/NY Presidents in that forum.

SAG Money being misused (March 3, 2009)

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 5:19 pm
Tags: , , , , ,


Perhaps you received the Hollywood Call Sheet (the official Newsletter of SAG Hollywood) with a front page opinion piece by Anne Marie Johnson. It is another example of how Membership First flagrantly misuses our Guild email list. In the recent past, they censured the columns of both former SAG NY President Paul Christie, and current SAG New York President Sam Freed from the Call Sheet because their opinions were counter to the actions of MF. I will be contacting the Guild tomorrow to see what recourse there is. This is our dues money at work.

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