One only has to read the newspaper or the trades to realize Nick and the boys have their propaganda machine running at full speed.
Of course, the compliant media dependent on those rewarding movie ads and other goodies supplied by the studios and producers are more than willing to push their propaganda.
Case in point; Former SAG President Melissa Gilbert’s recent producer propaganda parroting piece in the Los Angeles Times.
SAG shouldn’t strike
Melissa Gilbert, a former SAG president, says asking guild members to authorize a strike puts them and the economy at risk.
By Melissa Gilbert
December 17, 2008
The Screen Actors Guild, under the leadership of President Alan Rosenberg and its board of directors, has asked members to authorize a strike. This is a foolhardy move that endangers not only the union but our entire entertainment industry, the economy of the communities in which we work and our country as a whole.
Yep, nothing like a foolhardy move that let’s the membership have a voice in their futures to endanger their union. You, folks, you just don’t get it. Better we should let Melissa and her anti democratic gang of USAN New York Board members, and self-centered high profile members make that decision for us.
Now is not the time for a strike.
This, of course, is the eternal K-gel rallying cry of the “go-along-to-get-along’s.” They were crying it when SAG went on strike to get pension & health and residuals. Hell, they were crying “Now is not the time” when SAG was formed during the Great Depression.
I say this not just as one of the guild’s 120,000 members, or as one of the millions of Southern Californians who would be affected by a strike. I offer this perspective as a former SAG president who, between 2001 and 2005, oversaw five successful negotiated contracts.
Oh, and two unsuccessful referendums that cost the membership millions of dollars. As to those successful contracts, one of them included the lowest increase in minimums in SAG history, 2.5%.
I Even if it were advisable, SAG is in no financial position to bear the burden of a work stoppage at this time. The 2005 TV/theatrical negotiations, which took only a few months, cost the guild about $200,000. The cost of the current negotiations, which have dragged on since the spring, must be approaching $1 million. The guild reports that it has about $48 million in reserves, but nearly every penny is already allocated for operating costs. Where are the millions more needed to fund a strike, including the staff overtime and travel expenses that are inevitable?
Man, can this gal come up for reasons to cave into producers. As for her facts or bookkeeping, I wouldn’t take them too seriously! First of all, according to SAG, their reserves are not $48 million but rather $33 million dollars.
Now, if indeed, Melissa’s numbers are more current than those posted August 15th, 2008, then that certainly shoots down the poor economy excuse as it would mean SAG has added $15 million dollars to its reserves in the last four months. As to the fact that SAG might have deficit if we did strike; well, duh? We had a deficit in 2000 when we struck, but, guess what, the next year, 2001, we didn’t have. As for a strike eating up a significant or unmanageable amount SAG’s reserves, hardly; the total cost was just over two million dollars. The following are the deficits in that time period.
Just mailing out the ballots Jan. 2 will cost the guild $120,000. A PR campaign and more town hall meetings, like the one Wednesday night in Hollywood, will add to that tab.
This from the gal whose regime spent millions on failed referendums.
To be sure, most SAG members who have read the producers’ contract proposal are not happy with every point of the deal. And true, actors’ needs differ from those of our fellow artists. But it’s also safe to say that there is a deal to be made, just as there was for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
“Deal” indicates compromise. There has been no compromise. In their own words, the AMPTP has admonished SAG for not taking the same offer as the other guilds took. Thank God, they didn’t also make a “deal” with the janitors union or we’d be cleaning up after shoots.
I am not swayed by arguments that, given the current economic conditions, now is a good time to strike. How can any SAG member vote to knowingly put so many people, in our industry and in myriad associated businesses, into further jeopardy during the largest financial crisis since the Depression?
The Great Depression; Oh, you mean when studios were making record profits, and when the Screen Actors Guild was formed?
Unemployment in California is expected to hover around 9% in 2009, and home values here still haven’t hit bottom. A strike would bring Los Angeles to a grinding halt, and the economic damage would ripple across the county and the state.
Oh, I get it we are to take one for the industry, while our employers are making record profits off our work. This from Box Office Mojo (12/29/08):
Now, here’s a thought that never crossed Little Ms. Melissa’s pretty little head How about multi-millionaire employers taking one the industry for change.
I On top of that, NBC — one of the largest buyers of scripted programming — announced last week that it will put Jay Leno in its 10 p.m. slot five nights a week. This represents a pink slip to numerous craftspeople who would have worked on the one hour dramas that traditionally have lived in that slot.
She’s got me there. My God, we are up against the Jay Leno factor! Speaking of Jay Leno, her litany of excuses is beginning to sound like a David Letterman ‘Top Ten Reason’ bit.
Each day brings another reason not to strike. And yet — strangely — SAG’s leaders keep insisting that a strike authorization is the only way to show the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) “that we mean business.” Really? Is that really what we think?
Hmmmhey, I know how to show them we mean business. Ah, by not getting a strike authorization. Yep, it’s a tried and true military tactic. Show the enemy you mean business by throwing down your arms.
On Monday, about 300 guild members in New York rallied in support of a strike, just as 400 did in Los Angeles last week.
Duh, Melissa, Dear, the rally in NY was against a strike, or even having a strike authorization! Poor goofy, Melissa, me hopes that she’s getting her bogus information from the worlds oldest publicist Al Shighmer, other wise the poor dear is in a lot of trouble.
But many thousands of members, here and across the country, were not cheering. In fact, I hear from many working guild members that not only will they vote against a strike authorization, they will not honor a strike if one is called.
Hmmm…you mean they’d have to choose between their union or their employer? Just a thought Melissa, if that’s all your hearing, maybe you should stop hanging around with your USAN and Restore Respect pals and keep in touch with the rest of our members. Hmmm, it seems when SAG had a poll ten thousand of those members, who bothered to return their postcards, voted 87 percent to 13 percent to reject the AMPTP’s final offer.
The words “financial core” — a way of declaring oneself covered by any union contract even as you give up voting rights and other membership obligations — are on more lips. To see this kind of rift in the guild is horrible. But it’s happening.
Hmmm.the old phrase “The smeller is the fellar” comes to mind. No doubt Melissa wouldn’t bring this up unless it is on her mind. Well, look. she has already been brought up on charges for doing non-union work.
A growing number of programs — on network, cable and the Web — work under AFTRA contracts. It was hardly the time for SAG to distance itself from that sister union. Yet, SAG leaders did just that last spring. They ended our joint-negotiating relationship with AFTRA, which then quickly struck its own deal with the AMPTP. With SAG leaders now saying they’ll “show the AMPTP” by calling a strike, whose contract do you think will get more use going forward on new productions?
Talk about revisionism! Duh! Melissa it was AFTRA that walked out of joint negotiations, the day before they were to begin. But, hey, she is on a roll; why let facts get in her way. Oh, and just for your information Ms. Gilbert, if SAG goes on strike against producers, they can’t avoid a work stoppage by going over to another union…well, yeah, maybe they could if you were still president, but, but you ain’t!
SAG’s national board must convene an emergency meeting to officially reconsider and retract the motion to send out strike authorization ballots.
You see, according to Her Highness, you over a hundred twenty thousand SAG members, why should you have the right to have a voice in what your union does, better you should let a group of producer/actors, air heads, and “go-along-to-get-alongs” make that decision for you.
It must remove the members of the contract negotiating committee who have been unable to make a deal, starting with chief negotiator Doug Allen. The guild would be in much better hands with SAG senior advisor John McGuire leading the charge. McGuire has been part of more negotiations than anyone on the staff, and just as important, he has a deep understanding of the U.S. labor movement and the broader context for these negotiations.
Duh, again. John McGurie was part of the negotiations. Hey, like I said let’s not muddy her agenda with facts.
At the very time our county has chosen a philosophic peacemaker over an impatient warrior, SAG is on the opposite course. Rosenberg lacks the qualities — thoughtfulness, probity and, frankly, strength — needed in a union leader at this difficult hour.
Yeah, let’s put our negotiations into the hands of a philosophic peacemaker who wants to go into a war with no weapons. (And, hey, General Pacifist, you obviously weren’t listening to our new president elect. He made it clear, he won’t rollover if our country is threatened. If I remember, the pacifist candidate didn’t do all that well. )
Now is not the time for a strike. And yet Rosenberg is leading our union to the edge of that cliff. Members need to reflect on the path he is recommending; is it one of negotiation, patience and discipline? A true desire for peace and for the greater good?
This poor thing hasn’t got a clue! Of course we all remember President Roosevelt’s words after Pear Harbor, “My fellow Amercians now is a time for negotiations, patience and discipline for the greater good.”
I’ve been a member of this guild for more than 30 years, and I have never seen it so torn. Truly, I hope the guild survives this challenging time. I can only think that we will, but we must each be willing to take a hard look at our leadership and, if made to chose, vote no on the strike authorization. We cannot do it. Not now. Not in these times. But if we avoid the disaster of an ill-timed strike, we can, and will, live to fight another day.
Thank God, this gal was not a commanding voice back in the Great Depression when our guild was formed, or we wouldn’t have a guild.
Melissa Gilbert was SAG president from 2001 to 2005.
Yikes, Eddy, did you have to remind us?
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief
I just learned that due to pressure, the LA Times allowed SAG’s former President Ed Asner an op-ed piece in the LA Times. I will post it as soon as I can.