Showbizreporting's Blog

July 21, 2009

SAG’s slate of candidates still secret

SAG’s slate of candidates still secret

Membership First coalition to announce Sunday

SAG 

 

 

 

Despite a fast-approaching Thursday filing deadline, the two factions within the Screen Actors Guild have continued to keep their slate of candidates for the guild’s September elections under wraps.

The Membership First coalition, which is aiming to regain control of SAG’s national board, has opted to announce its slate Sunday at a fund-raiser at the Beverly Hills home of board members Joe Bologna and Renee Taylor. SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg and secretary-treasurer Connie Stevens are hosting the event along with eight co-hosts: Barbara Eden, Dick Van Patten and national board members Scott Bakula, Anne De Salvo, Joely Fisher, Lainie Kazan, Nancy Sinatra and JoBeth Williams.

Since Rosenberg said conditionally six weeks ago that he’d seek a third two-year term, no one else has stepped forward to run for president. First VP Anne-Marie Johnson has admitted her name is under consideration as a Membership First candidate but has also stressed that no final decision has been made.

Membership First plans to run a full slate of candidates in Hollywood — where moderates from Unite for Strenght wrested control of the national board last fall — along with slates in New York and Chicago. About a third of the 71 seats are up in the election, with results due to be announced Sept. 24.

The Unite for Strength faction, which has a slim majority on the national board in a coalition with board members from SAG’s branches, hasn’t yet revealed any of its candidates. Rumors on possible presidential candidates have included national board members Adam Arkin and Morgan Fairchild, alernate national board member Ned Vaughn, Jason Alexander and former secretary-treasurer James Cromwell.

The overwhelming 78% ratification of SAGs feature-primetime contract — despite fervent opposition by Rosenberg and Membership First — has convinced many that the moderates will prevail in the election. But voting by SAG members has remained unpredictable over the past decade.

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July 15, 2009

Membership First Voting


The Hollywood Board of Membership First proved the deception of their name last night when they put the wishes of the Membership dead last.  They ignored our voice as expressed in the last election when we summarily rejected David Jolliffe’s bid for a board seat.  He lost…  We did not vote for him.  Yet today, we find, he is, almost as if by magic, back on the National Board.

Last night at the Hollywood Board Meeting of SAG, Membership First manipulated the rules which govern our board to suit their cause.

Sitting National Board member Justine Bateman resigned her board seat.  The rule states that the seat be filled with the highest vote-getting alternate (voted upon by us, the members) – in this case, Marcia Wallace.  But Marcia is a member of Unite for Strength.  Hmm.  What to do….  I know, let’s just change the rules.

The Hollywood Board passed over Marcia and instead dug down to the bottom of the heap and fished out David Joliffe.  As you might recall, David was voted out of both his National and Hollywood board seats when we,  the Hollywood members overwhelmingly rejected his candidacy. But no matter to MF.  If they followed the rules and put Marcia in as Justine’s replacement, they would be one MF member down on the National Board.  So, they just changed the rule.  Just like that.  To suit their cause.  And ignored the voice of us, the members.

One last thing.  It was Membership First who instated the protocol of replacing resigning board members with the highest vote-getting alternate when that suited them.  This is how they keep a grip on power.  That is not me talking.  That is the record.

June 4, 2009

This is not good.

 

Three Membership First Candidates Elected to AFTRA Boards

 

The AFTRA Los Angeles results are in. Many candidates were reelected, but new winners include two Membership First leaders—SAG 1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson (AFTRA national board) and former SAG Hollywood Board member David Jolliffe (AFTRA Los Angeles local board)—as well as Membership First member Alan Ruck (AFTRA national board). They join several MF stalwarts already on the national board (not sure about the LA local board).

Johnson and Jolliffe bring a particularly interesting dynamic to the AFTRA boards. Johnson, for instance, in a recent video described running for the AFTRA board as “really distasteful for me” and accused AFTRA of leech[ing] off of [SAG].” Jolliffe, for his part, told me in an interview last summer that SAG was the “one union for actors.” These remarks certainly make one skeptical of their intentions as they join the AFTRA boards.

I’m told by a source that even with these new board members, Membership First still controls less than 10% of the votes on AFTRA’s national board. They now have 7 seats (out of 73 total on the board) – Frances Fischer, Sumi Haru, Jane Austin, Jeff Austin, Anne-Marie Johnson, Alan Ruck, and Bonnie Bartlett.

3,262 valid ballots were received in the election, which was for LA only. I’m not sure what percentage turnout that represents, but I’m asking AFTRA. However, given that the union has 70,000 members nationwide, I’m guessing that this turnout is probably on the order of 10%.

In any case, the small number of ballots makes it impossible, in my view, to extrapolate from these results and make predictions about the upcoming SAG elections (July through September), let alone the contract ratification vote (ballots due in by mail next Tuesday, so there’s only a day or so left to send in ballots).

Below is the AFTRA press release with complete information on the election.

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Election Results for Los Angeles Officers, Los Angeles and National Board

Members, and Convention Delegates

 

AFTRA LA President Ron Morgan Reelected

 

LOS ANGELES, CA (June 3, 2009)—The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced today election results for the AFTRA Los Angeles Local.

 

Actor Ron Morgan was re-elected President of AFTRA Los Angeles and will begin his new two-year term as Local President on July 1; he ran unopposed in his bid for reelection. Mr. Morgan was also elected to the AFTRA National Board of Directors for a four-year term; he also serves as a National Vice President of the union.

 

Also uncontested in their reelection for two-year terms as officers for AFTRA Los Angeles were First Vice President Susan Boyd Joyce, a singer; actor Gabrielle Carteris, Second Vice President; Third Vice President Bobbie Bates, a dancer; Fourth VP Jason George, an actor; Recording Secretary Patrika Darbo, an actor; and actor Jay Gerber continues as Treasurer.

 

Reelected to three-year terms on the Los Angeles Local Board of Directors were actors David Bowe, Raza Burgee, Andrew Caple-Shaw, Gabrielle Carteris, Bob Joles, Kate Linder, and Paul Napier; announcer Mike Sakellarides; dancer Galen Hooks; broadcaster Pepe Barreto; and singers Susan Boyd Joyce and Dick Wells. Incoming Los Angeles Local Board members include actors David Andriole, Mimi Cozzens, David Jolliffe, Marcia Strassman; and announcer Chuck Southcott.

 

AFTRA National Board members from the Los Angeles Local reelected to four-year terms include actors Gabrielle Carteris, Jay Gerber, Ron Morgan, and Paul Petersen; dancer Bobbie Bates; and singers Susan Boyd Joyce and Sally Stevens. Newly-elected to the AFTRA National Board are actors Anne-Marie Johnson, D. W. Moffett, Jason Priestley, and Alan Ruck.

 

One-hundred-and-ninety-eight (198) Los Angeles Delegates to AFTRA’s 62nd National Convention were also elected. The National Convention will be held August 6 – 8 in Chicago, Illinois.

 

There are 73 seats total on the new AFTRA National Board, which will be officially seated following AFTRA’s National Convention on August 9 in Chicago, Illinois. The AFTRA Los Angeles Local will be assigned 26 seats on the new National Board; 13 were up for election, 11 were open seats and two seats were assigned to the Announcer category and the Newsperson category, respectively.

 

All AFTRA Los Angeles Local officer and board terms begin July 1. The AFTRA National Board terms begin at the conclusion of this summer’s National Convention.

 

A total of 3,262 valid ballots were received in the AFTRA Los Angeles election.

June 3, 2009

SAG Sets Informational Meetings re TV/Theatrical Aggreement (MAY 8, 2009)

 

Friday, May 8, 2009

SAG Sets Informational Meetings re TV/theatrical Agreement

 

The TV/theatrical ballots will go out May 19 (about ten days from now) and are due back by mail on June 9. SAG has set members-only informational meetings on the proposed contract. The LA meeting is sure to have fireworks, since the leaders of the Membership First faction, based in LA, oppose the proposed deal.

Supporting the deal are SAG staff and the SAG National Board, including SAG’s moderate majority leadership, comprised of the LA-based Unite for Strength faction, LA independent board member Morgan Fairchild, and most or all of the NY and regional board members.

The deal can be ratified by a simple majority (i.e., 50% + 1) of those members voting. If ratified, the agreement would end an over 10-month stalemate.

The details of the meetings are in an email to members (see below).
 

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Email to SAG members:

Dear Screen Actors Guild member,

As you know, the Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors voted April 19, 2009, to approve and recommend to members, new, two-year successor agreements to the 2005 Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement and 2005 Screen Actors Guild Television Agreement.

Ballots will be mailed to all eligible members on May 19, 2009. Ballots must be mailed in the return envelope provided and received at the Everett, WA, post office box no later than 5:00 p.m. (PDT) June 9, 2009. Ballots received after this deadline, or at a location other than the post office box, will not be counted.

We are holding member informational meetings so that you can hear about the tentative agreement and ask questions. Member informational meetings are scheduled for Hollywood and New York as follows and will be announced for Branch locations next week.

HOLLYWOOD
Thursday, May 21, 2009
7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Renaissance Hollywood Hotel
Hollywood Ballroom
1755 N. Highland Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90028

PARKING: No-host self parking at Hollywood & Highland – validation available at the Hollywood & Highland complex: $2 for 4 hours when you are validated in any shop, restaurant or theatre that is part of the mall. Guild not responsible for illegally parked vehicles.

NEW YORK
Monday, June 1, 2009
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Directors Guild of America
110 West 57th Street (between 6th & 7th Aves.) New York, New York

Unfortunately, no guests will be allowed. Parents/guardians of younger performers under 18 years-old are welcome. PLEASE BRING YOUR SAG MEMBERSHIP CARD FOR ADMITTANCE (paid thru April 30, 2009). For more information call the National TV/Theatrical Contracts Hotline (323) 549-6665 or email contract2009@sag.org.

Member informational meetings are also planned for Branch locations across the country. More information on Branch member informational meetings will be available shortly.

Please plan to attend the member informational meeting in your area to get important facts regarding the tentative agreement. Screen Actors Guild negotiators, national board members and staff experts will be on hand to provide a thorough overview of the tentative agreement.

You can also find more information on the upcoming referendum, including details of the tentative agreement, by visiting the TV/Theatrical Contracts Center at http://www.sag.org or by emailing contract2009@sag.org.

We know how important this contract is to all Screen Actors Guild members. We urge you to stay informed by visiting http://www.sag.org often, attending the member informational meeting in your area and contacting us with questions and comments.

Watch for your ballot which is mailing May 19, 2009, and when you receive it, vote yes and return your ballot right away. Don’t delay, ballots must be received by June 9.

In unity,

David P. White
Interim National Executive Director

John T. McGuire
Chief Negotiator
Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors Strongly Recommends your “Yes” Vote on this contract. Let’s get back to work with a raise.

Variety: SAG, AFTRA mail out ballots: Members to Vote on New Commercials Pact (MAY 1, 2009)

 

SAG, AFTRA mail out ballots

Members to vote on new commercials pact

By DAVE MCNARY

 

SAG and AFTRA have launched their campaign to persuade about 150,000 members to approve the new commercials pact in what’s expected to be an easy ratification.

The unions mailed out the ratification ballots Thursday, followed by an email message Friday that disclosed plans for holding informational meetings in 18 cities. Ballots are due back by May 21.

Unlike the SAG feature-primetime contract, no opposition’s yet emerged to the commercials deal — which has received unanimous backing from the joint negotiating committee and the joint boards of the two unions.

“We believe this is a good and fair contract and we urge you to vote yes,” said SAG president Alan Rosenberg and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon at the conclusion of a letter to members. The letter was also signed by SAG interim national exec director David White and chief negotiator John McGuire along with AFTRA topper Kim Roberts Hedgpeth and chief negotiator Mathis Dunn.

Rosenberg has been fighting ratification of SAG’s deal, mainly on grounds that its new-media provisions fall short. Ballots for the SAG pact go out May 19 with a June 9 return date.

The commercials deal represents a $36 million pay hike in the first year of the contract and a $24 million increase in pension and health contributions over the pact’s three years. It also preserves the current pay-per-play Class A residuals structure while providing for a pilot study on new compenasation model based on ratings.

The commercials pact, which covers nearly $1 billion in annual blurb work, will be retroactive to April 1 and run through March 31, 2012. SAG and AFTRA staged a bitter six-month strike in 2000 against the ad industry, but the tough economic times plus a shift in control of SAG’s national board to a more moderate faction last fall provided strong indications that a commercials strike was unlikely.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118003084.html

Variety: SAG Mailing Out Ballots May 19 – Guild To Vote on Feature-Primetime Contract (APR. 29, 2009)

 

SAG mailing out ballots May 19

Guild to vote on feature-primetime contract

By DAVE MCNARY

 

SAG will mail out its feature-primetime contract ratification ballots to members May 19, with a return date of June 9. That means nearly a year will have passed between the time the ballots will be tallied and the June 30, 2008, expiration of the previous contract.

SAG originally said it would send out ballots in early May, but the guild needed more time to prepare the pro and con statements going out with the ballot to its 120,000 members.

The year of the contract impasse has been marked by explosive internal battles over the pact, between the hardline Membership First faction and a moderate coalition that gained a narrow majority on the national board in the fall — including January’s firing of national exec director Doug Allen for allegedly botching negotiations. The two sides are jockeying for political leverage in the next round of SAG elections in September, with Membership First bitterly opposing the deal.

SAG’s national board approved the two-year deal April 19 with a 53% endorsement. Backers touted the pact for keeping SAG in synch with the DGA, WGA and AFTRA expirations in 2011, and bringing about much-needed stability plus pay raises to thesps, along with blasting Membership First for being unrealistic in its aggressive approach to negotiations.

For its part, Membership First staged a demonstration Wednesday in Pasadena to protest the hiring of an outside PR firm, Saylor Co., to persuade members to approve the contract agreement. About 60 attended the event, including Tony Danza and former SAG president Ed Asner.

Opponents of the deal have asserted that the growth of new-media precludes accepting the same template as the WGA, DGA and AFTRA. They’ve contended that voting the deal down would force the congloms to offer SAG better terms — though the congloms have insisted for the past year that they will not sweeten the deal.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118003002.html

From AFTRA themselves (APR. 23, 2009)


April 2009

Joint AFTRA and SAG National Board of Directors Approves New Commercials Contracts for Ratification

Meeting by videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York, the Joint SAG-AFTRA National Board today voted unanimously to approve and recommend to members, new three-year successor agreements to the 2006 AFTRA Television and Radio Commercials Contracts and the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Television Commercials Contract.

The proposed agreements, which cover performers working in commercials made for and reused on television, radio, the Internet, and new media, will net a three-year increase in payments to performers totaling an estimated $36 million, including approximately $21 million in increased contributions to the SAG Pension & Health and AFTRA Health & Retirement plans. The total combined value of the AFTRA and SAG contracts is projected at more than $2.9 billion for working performers, including actors, singers, dancers, choreographers, stunt persons, and extras.

Additionally, the new contracts contain an agreement in principle outlining terms for a pilot study for the purpose of testing the Gross Rating Points (GRP) model of restructuring compensation to performers as proposed by Booz & Co. The two-year study will be conducted by a jointly retained consultant engaged by the unions and the industry. The study will be paid for by grants from Screen Actors Guild-Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund (IACF) and the AFTRA-Industry Cooperative Fund (AICF).

The unions also successfully established a first-ever payment structure in commercials for the Internet and other new media platforms. The unions established jurisdiction over commercial work made for the Internet in 2000, and new media formats in 2006. The new payment structure goes into effect in the third year of the contract.

The referendum will be mailed to the members of both unions next week (dual SAG and AFTRA members will receive one ballot) with a return date in mid-May. Results will be announced at that time.

Following the vote, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and AFTRA Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee said: “Our new agreement is a major achievement in any economy, but it is especially crucial for union members working to make ends meet in today’s difficult marketplace. I applaud the vision and hard work of the joint committee who worked together to win increases both in performers’ minimum compensation and in employer contributions to our health and pension plans, and who successfully preserved Class A payments so critically important to our members around the country.”

Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg said: “I am pleased and gratified to have achieved these gains and to recommend this agreement for ratification. I congratulate all of the parties, and particularly the co-chairs, committee members and staff on the remarkable gains they achieved for actors across the country.”

“It’s a solid agreement with meaningful gains,” said Screen Actors Guild Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee Sue-Anne Morrow. “There are significant improvements in compensation and benefits for union commercial actors and it gives the industry, including our members, a measure of financial certainty in an uncertain economy. It also guarantees advertisers continued access to the finest actors in the world on whose talent their brand success often rests. It’s a win for actors, a win for the industry, and a win for consumers.”

Screen Actors Guild Chief Negotiator John McGuire, a veteran of more than 10 separate commercials contracts negotiations said: “This is an agreement we can all be proud of and I look forward to ratification by the members of Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. I commend the negotiating committee chairs, co-chairs, and members, along with my colleagues Ray Rodriguez, Screen Actors Guild’s Deputy National Executive Director of Contracts, and Mathis Dunn, AFTRA’s Chief Negotiator.”

“This is a successful conclusion to a challenging negotiation, conducted during a difficult economic and technological time in the industry. As always, that success rests with the members of our joint committee, our staff and our counterparts at the Joint Policy Committee. Together, we served the interests of actors and the industry,” McGuire added.

AFTRA Assistant National Executive Director Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., who served as AFTRA Chief Negotiator, noted: “I commend all of our union members who participated in the many educational, informational, and wages and working conditions meetings leading up to these negotiations. They delivered a clear message to our joint negotiating committee on their priority issues. I am proud to say that we delivered on these priorities and much more. The agreement will enhance the careers of all working performers today, and protect future generations of union members as technology and consumer tastes shift in the radically changing world of new media.”

Highlights of the new agreement include:

Three-year agreement, term effective April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012, upon ratification by members of both unions.
5.5% overall increase in wages and other compensation over the life of the contracts, including a 4.43% increase, effective April 1, 2009, in Class A, Wild Spot, and basic cable session and use fees.
For product moved over to the Internet or in New Media, compensation of 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 weeks of use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use.
For product made for the Internet or New Media, a new minimum rate structure of 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 weeks of use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use, effective in the third year of the contract.
0.5% increases in the employer contribution rate to the AFTRA H&R and SAG P&H plans, and a 0.2% increase in employer contributions to the SAG Industry Advancement Cooperative Fund and the AFTRA-Industry Cooperative Fund, bringing the total contribution rate to 15.5%. Effective in year three, the agreement provides for a cap on P&H and H&R contributions for services covered by the contracts to $1 million per performer, per contract, per year with anticipated net gains in P&H and H&R over the term of the contract.
Secured five new covered jobs for commercial extras, up from 40 to 45.
Established new exclusivity compensation for made-for cable only commercials.
Instituted, for the first time, a contract provision to pay extras a round-trip mileage fee of $8.
Increased foreign use payments under the Spanish Language section of the contract.
The across the board increase under the AFTRA Radio Commercials Contract is 5.35%, in addition to contributions to AFTRA H&R and the AICF.
All of the unions’ proposals regarding diversity issues were addressed in the negotiations.
AFTRA and SAG joint member education and informational meetings will be conducted around the nation to provide members with an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the new agreements prior to voting.

Formal negotiations between the 26-member AFTRA/SAG Joint Negotiating Committee and the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) began on February 23 and concluded on the morning of April 1 in New York City.

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.

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 nearly 120,000 actors who work in film, television, industrials, commercials, video games, music videos and other new media. 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.

Message from SAG’S NY DIVISION PRESIDENT SAM FREED (APR. 22, 2009)


Message from SAG’s New York Division President Sam Freed

Dear New York Guild Member,

There were two significant events this past weekend that will affect the
lives of New York actors and Guild members across the country.

On Saturday at a meeting of the joint board of SAG and AFTRA, there was a vote to send a proposed Commercials contract to our joint membership for ratification. This marks the conclusion of a successful effort of both our unions to negotiate together for the benefit of all of us. The proposal will come to you with a unanimous approval of the joint negotiating committee and a recommendation to vote “YES” from both institutions. Details of the contract will be provided with your ballot that you will receive in a few weeks.

On Sunday at a meeting of the SAG National Board, there was a vote to send a proposed TV/Theatrical contract to SAG members for ratification. This marks the end of an extended negotiation that has left us working without a contract since July 1 of last year. This contract will come to you with a recommendation to vote “YES” from both the Board and the recently constituted Negotiating Task Force that helped bring these negotiations to a conclusion.

You will receive detailed information about this contract along with your ballot. But in short the gains achieved go directly to the needs of the middle class actor. Raises in minimums, increases in major role performer premiums and the increases in residuals for primetime series reruns represent real dollars in member’s pockets. There is a .5% increase in pension and health contributions bringing the total contribution to 15%, a gain made even more significant given the state of our economy and the hits our funds have taken. Jurisdiction is awarded in New Media with the establishment of a residual structure. A residual formula is created for movie and television downloadsthat represents an increase over the DVD formula.

Because of the prolonged period of these negotiations this contract has a term of only two years. This was a hard fought concession that will allow our contract to expire with our sister unions and permit the option of joint negotiations in the future.

Lead Negotiator and Guild Senior Advisor John McGuire deserves much credit for getting these negotiations back on track and making improvements from the deal that was presented back in June of last year. David White, our new Interim NED, was instrumental in getting the AMPTP to move off their position of the term of the contract. The membership owes them much for their efforts.

Ballots for this contract will be sent20out in early May. You will have opportunities to learn more about the contract in consideration of your vote. Ratification will not only guarantee increases in terms and conditions but it will end the uncertainty that working without a contract has caused. Production can gear up once again and we can get back to work.

The recent changes that your Board has made are bearing fruit. We continue to move forward.

In
Solidarity,

Sam Freed
New York Division President

SAG STALEMATE UPDATE (APR. 17, 2009)

Digital Media Law  
SAG Stalemate Update

Posted: 17 Apr 2009 08:43 AM PDT

The Screen Actors Guild stalemate grinds on. Variety says there are back-channel talks with studio heads, but it’s hard to know whether talks are actually in progress or, if any, how substantive they are. These rumors have persisted off and on for almost two months at least.

Causing the stalemate is the issue of contract expiration date rather than new media; there’s talk of a trade-off between this issue and the (unrelated) SAG demand for force majeure payments per the previous SAG agreement. Meanwhile, the passage of time itself threatens to generate new roadblocks.

The SAG Board is meeting this weekend, and Variety suggests a proposed TV/theatrical deal might be presented to the Board then. I’m skeptical, but you never know. The SAG story has had a surprise around every corner, although for the last year, stalemate has unfortunately been the one constant.

What is known is that the SAG and AFTRA boards will spend part of the weekend meeting jointly to review the proposed commercials contract, a deal reached earlier this month between the two unions and the ad industry. That deal, a good one for labor, has garnered little opposition and is expected to be approved overwhelmingly, first by the two boards, then by the two unions’ membership, a process that will take several weeks.

In contrast, the TV/theatrical deal—even though there isn’t one—has garnered opposition. The MembershipFirst hardliners have pledged to oppose any deal endorsed by the current leadership, in part because of new media issues. A small band of MF-ers, in groups of 50-100, have been protesting the nonexistent deal in small weekly rallies around town for the past 6-8 weeks. That group is led by Scott Wilson, and has included, from time to time, SAG President Alan Rosenberg, 1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson, former national board alternate David Jolliffe, and even twice-ousted National Executive Director Doug Allen.

Speaking of Johnson and Jolliffe, they are two of the several dozen candidates in the upcoming AFTRA national and LA board elections. MF, which bitterly opposes merger between SAG and AFTRA and burns with hatred for AFTRA, has adopted a strategy of attempting to attack merger from within AFTRA itself—not that AFTRA is likely to be keen to merge with SAG at this point anyway, given the turmoil the Guild has endured at the hands of MF for over a year.

Thus, as Variety points out, MF-ers Bonnie Bartlett, Frances Fisher and Sumi Haru currently sit on both the SAG and AFTRA national boards. MF candidates in the upcoming AFTRA elections, in addition to Johnson and Jolliffe, include Steven Barr and David Clennon. Ballots will be mailed May 8 and due back June 3.

The AFTRA press release is below.

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AFTRA press release:
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO
Los Angeles , California (April 16, 2009)—The Los Angeles Local of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists—the people who entertain and inform America—announced the complete list of candidates for its 2009 election of Los Angeles Officers and Board members, Los Angeles-based National Board members, and delegates to the 2009 AFTRA National Convention.
All seven incumbent AFTRA Los Angeles Officers were named candidates for re-election by the AFTRA Los Angeles Nominating Committee and will run unopposed for additional two-year terms. They include Los Angeles President Ron Morgan; First Vice President Susan Boyd Joyce; Second Vice President Gabrielle Carteris; Third Vice President Bobbie Bates; Fourth Vice President Jason George; Recording Secretary Patrika Darbo; and Treasurer Jay Gerber.
A total of 22 AFTRA Los Angeles Board seats are up for election with candidates either having been selected by the Los Angeles Nominating Committee or qualifying for the ballot by Nominating Petition. Actors named by the Nominating Committee to fill 11openings include incumbents David Bowe, Raza Burgee, Andrew Caple-Shaw, Gabrielle Carteris, Bob Joles, and Kate Linder, along with David Andriole, Mimi Cozzens, Sandra de Bruin, James Schneider, and Marcia Strassman. Qualifying for the ballot by Nominating Petition are incumbent actors Nancy Daly and Paul Napier, joined by actor David Jolliffe.
Incumbent announcer Mike Sakellarides and announcer Chuck Southcott were named by the Nominating Committee as candidates to fill two vacancies representing that category. Dancer Galen Hooks, also an incumbent Board member, was named as a candidate by the Nominating Committee to fill one vacancy in that category.
Candidates to fill two singer vacancies are incumbents Susan Boyd Joyce and Dick Wells, both also selected by the Nominating Committee. Incumbent broadcaster Pepe Barreto was named by the Nominating Committee as a candidate for re-election representing the newsperson category with two additional newsperson seats remaining to be filled. There are also three vacancies representing the sportscaster category to be filled.
Thirteen seats representing Los Angeles on AFTRA’s National Board are up for election, with one seat guaranteed for Los Angeles Announcers and one for Los Angeles Newspersons. The remaining 11 seats will be filled based on the plurality of votes received. All National Board candidates qualified for the ballot by Nominating Petition. Candidates include incumbents Bobbie Bates, Susan Boyd Joyce, Gabrielle Carteris, Jay Gerber, Ron Morgan, Paul Petersen, and Sally Stevens. Also running are members Granville Ames, Steven Barr, L. Scott Caldwell, David Clennon, Milo Edwards, Carole Elliott, Anne-Marie Johnson, D. W. Moffett, Jason Priestley, Elizabeth Reynolds, and Alan Ruck.
Officer and Board Candidates will have the opportunity to address the membership at the AFTRA Los Angeles annual “Meet the Candidates” forum on Wednesday evening, April 29, at the union’s headquarters.
Los Angeles members will also elect 198 delegates to represent their performing categories at the 2009 AFTRA National Convention scheduled for August 6-8 in Chicago , Illinois .
Ballots will be mailed on May 8 with a voting deadline of June 3. Elected Los Angeles Officers and Board members will begin their terms July 1. National Board members begin their four-year terms at the conclusion of this summer’s National Convention.

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

 

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