Although, the Ol’ Dog was not at the town hall info meeting last night, I have gotten some feed back from those who were.
First off, Harmony Hall, which has a capacity of 400 was at near capacity. I was told there were very few empty seats.
I was also told it was not a good place to be for supporters of AFTRA’s giveaway Exhibit “A” contract. And, although, President Rosenberg made it clear that this was not an AFTRA Bashing session, members at the mike were not shy about expressing their displeasure of AFTRA’s proposed contract.
With a couple of exceptions, members speaking were more than gung ho about getting a better deal and voting down AFTRA’s agreement with the AMPTP.
In a humorous moment, one of those who expressed fear that there were no hi-profile members there, was proven to be a little less than observant when the member behind him go her turn at the mike, and introduced herself as Patricia Arquette.
Although, most of the issues covered in Town Hall #2 were covered in my post on Town Hall #1, one pertinent point made, was that all of AFTRA’s members, even those who have NEVER WORKED THIS CONTRACT will be allowed to vote on AFTRA’s Exhibit “A” Contract.
This means this pivotal, historical, agreement between actors and producers that will determine actors income for decades to come, could be decided by weathermen, newscasters and Disc Jockeys, who have never worked the contractand, who also, don’t allow actors to vote on their contracts.
And don’t cry qualified voting! Look, the Ol’ Dog thinks every actor, no matter their success, should be able to vote on bargaining agreementa in their chosen field, but I don’t think those agreements should be determined by weathermen, news anchors or disc Jockeys who do not pursue, or work, in the acting field, anymore than they should be determined by plumbers or electricians.
So, there you go, unless ALL of you dual-card actors, take the time to vote, your future could be decided by AFTRA broadcasters like Larry King, and Brian Williams, who not only will be allowed to decide actors future, but to do so, as they continue to work non-union at CNN and MSNBC.
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief
Also, dual cardholders must demand a complete vote tally form the AFTRA leadership on the Exhibit “A” referendum.
Remember this is the same AFTRA Star-less Chamber group that controls the board and the membership; The same group that will not allow members, even AFTRA board members, to see the complete voting results of the AFTRA Network Code. The same group that will not allow board members a copy of the complete Exhibit “A” contract to take home and study before voting on it. And, this is the same contract that members will soon be asked to vote on with only a summary to make their decision upon.
Those who refuse to stand up for their rights, soon find themselves seated without any.
Here is a first hand report from a Watchdog Reader on SAG’s Town Hall Meeting #2: I don’t know Michael, but I have seen a several of his posts on a couple of Bulletin Boards, and they were both articulate and incisive.
name: Michael Heister
comments: I attended last night’s SAG Town Hall meeting in LA, which was called to update members on the status of SAG contract negotiations and to educate dual-cardholders on the deficiencies of the proposed AFTRA contract. I’d like to offer a few of the opening statements, paraphrased here unless quoted.
We’re not here to vilify AFTRA. I was an AFTRA member before I was a SAG member.”
In reference to the current situation AFTRA’s proposed deal, SAG’s negotiations – “That’s what’s at stake here. The future of the acting profession”.
He reiterated that it’s not about politics or institutions or personalities, rather, “It’s all about actors”.
After recapping briefly recent history, he said on May 6 after AFTRA, WGA, AFM, and the Teamsters were invited to and attended most SAG bargaining days negotiations were suspended by the AMPTP and “We handed the ball off to AFTRA transparently….”
SAG gave AFTRA all of the sensitive internal documents to help AFTRA negotiate.
SAG observers did not have the same access to AFTRA negotiations that SAG gave AFTRA. AFTRA kept SAG observers out of negotiations the last seven days before AFTRA came to their agreement with the AMPTP.
SAG is opposing the AFTRA agreement because unequal contracts for the same covered work allows producers to pit one union against the other at the expense of actors. “Competition in this environment (between unions) is bad, not good”. Companies will of course pick the union contract with the lowest terms, not the highest.
The AFTRA deal does not address actors’ priorities, including many which the two unions agreed upon in the joint wages and working conditions meetings.
If AFTRA members vote down the deal, it forces AFTRA back to the table, and it actually makes a strike by SAG less likely. It also makes it more likely both SAG and AFTRA will get a better deal.
Questioners also had a few interesting things to ask and/or share.
One questioner said he has friends being pressured by their agents and/or managers to ratify the AFTRA contract. The response was that some of the agents or managers may not be entirely disinterested players in this, as AFTRA allows them some level of investment in production. IMHO, every actor should keep in mind that your agent and manager work for you, not vice versa. Why would they encourage you to ratify a deal that gets you hence them a smaller chunk than SAG should be able to get, and mortgages New Media forever (sunset clauses notwithstanding; the AMPTP conveniently forgot their promises to revisit VHS and later DVD), unless they have competing interests? Agents & managers work for us; we can ask these questions of them.
Another questioner a dual-cardholder share that he received a robocall from James Cromwell extolling the virtues of the AFTRA deal. Apparently this person wasn’t the only one, and a suggestion was made to initiate robocalls against the AFTRA deal. No commitment was made by SAG leadership in relation to that suggestion.
At least two, possibly three actors asked where the stars are. IMHO, each SAG card is worth one contract vote, so star wattage is of limited relevance to me. However, after these queries, a prominent actor who quietly waited her turn in line did step up, announce herself, and pose a question to the presenters about clip use from the floor. Mr. Allen explained SAG’s proposal includes a range of protections on how the clips may or may not be used. The actor asked about clip use in commercials. Mr. Allen said SAG’s proposal would prevent that.
Force majeure also came up. AFTRA has deferred to SAG on this. SAG’s position is that force majeure is sacrosanct, and the AMPTP needs to pay up on the 80+ productions with outstanding claims from the WGA strike.
SAG has not yet asked for a strike authorization. Mr. Rosenberg reiterated that nobody wants a strike less than he does. He’s unemployed, as his SAG duties have taken up all of his time, and he doesn’t want to put his wife Marg Helgenberger of CSI – out of work.
Most of the attendees are dual-cardholders. I would characterize the almost all of the questioners as being very concerned about various aspects of the AFTRA deal, and about the future of union representation for actors. Mr. Rosenberg actually invited anyone who would like to defend the AFTRA deal to step to the front of the line. No takers.
These are my primary recollections from the town hall, FWIW.
I remain vehemently opposed to the AFTRA deal first and foremost because of the New Media non-union exemption, and from what I saw last night, apparently I’m not alone.