I would call it 60-40 pro-merger, charitably. For every question from a kool-aide-drinker, or just, blow—as in Tom Ligon, who practically disappeared under the dais during his statement of undying fealty to merger, there were many questions of doubt, confusion, and outright rejection of merger.John McGuire sat back from the dais, behind, and I kept thinking, “nobody knows he’s the multi-millionaire off our money for the past 30 years, and he is probably the most influential guy up there.”
There were some whoppers. David White rattled on about the loss of TV contributing to the demise of SAG P&H. I was in the balcony, and it just jumped out of my mouth? “WHY?!” Ken Howard had a stroke, “who is that! that’s not according to! – we! … that can’t! …”
So I got on line. I mean, the f–king balls of White to say “look at the Take 2’s sent to you – the P&H program is in trouble and we invest well, but the loss of TV has been very harmful.”
ARE YOU ——-KIDDING ME?
THE guy more responsible than anyone, by the COMPLETE abdication of DOING HIS JOB and STOPPING the wholesale give-away of TV to AFTRA, then BLAMES the same wholesale give-away of TV to AFTRA – HE DID NOTHING TO STOP – for the damaging of the SAG P&H plan?
Other bullsh– highlights? Ken Howard, Roberta Reardon, David White, and others, continued to LIE by saying “none of this can be solved unless we merge. The ONLY way to address these issues is to merge. Otherwise nothing can be done.”
THAT IS A LIE.
There was NO mention of the perfectly legal options for SAG to address this attempted hostile take-over of SAG by AFTRA: DECERTIFICATION AND/OR A UNIT CLARIFICATION CLAIM TO THE NLRB.
To me, I was stunned they kept saying that.
Versions of “we have NO CHOICE but to merge,” which is a LIE.
They also kept saying “producers choose the union,” which is a LIE.
Again, for the 8000th time, producers can do whatever they want, but in the event of THIS singular-in-the-history-of-SAG, attempt to destroy SAG and merge with AFTRA, by this purposeful financial attack on SAG?
Actors ABSOLUTELY have the right, GIVEN THE CHANCE TO VOTE, to solve the jurisdiction problem COMPLETELY – by voting on a “SAG or AFTRA?” referendum.
The dais KNOWS that – and they are LYING about it. Everyone should know that. Repeatedly LYING about it.
SAG members should know, our President, Ken Howard is up there LYING with a straight face that SAG has NO other option except to merge with AFTRA, which is something for which, in my opinion, he should be removed from office for saying. And he says it repeatedly. You can tell, they are well aware merger is on the ropes and they face possible legal challenges, as well as an awakening membership, and SOMEONE has drilled into their heads “tell them MERGER IS THE ONLY OPTION!”
Which is a LIE.
Another other outrageous thing was Roberta Reardon saying “there’s this rumor going around that AFTRA actors work off the card, which is simply untrue” which was met with OPEN derision “it IS true!” by some in the crowd.
They’re “explaining” or “justifying” the “no-union” broadcaster status by saying “it is REALLY REALLY HARD to organize broadcasters!” They go into detail as to why, but THAT is the sum explanation.
And the broadcaster on the dais, a nice guy, caught me in the lobby after and tried to explain, and I told him “I appreciate the explanation, but you have to understand, when I hear Roberta Reardon saying AFTRA actors don’t work off the card? Listen, that is simply untrue, and I know it for a fact. And you need to understand that SAG actors are well aware they will be merging with a culture of non-unionism, and let’s face it, producers can be bottom feeders and as SOON as one waves a substantial enough payday under a name actors nose, who NEEDS the cash? That actor will do it, and that actor will say ‘why should I be expected to NOT take this job when the broadcasters work non-union ALL THE TIME?’ And THAT ACTOR WILL BE RIGHT AND WILL THEN BE FOLLOWED RIGHT OUT THE DOOR TO INCREASING NON-UNIONISM BY OTHER ACTORS, AND THEN – ALL BETS ARE OFF.’ ”
And the broadcaster seemed ill at ease with the notion that the culture HE was used to as a broadcaster, was something NOT tolerated in SAG, as if “hey come on man, we can make this work. We don’t organize cause it’s hard man, but actors can work union, and you all can just let us slide.”
John McGuire was the speaker for ALL questions regarding P&H, and, in short? He did not have ONE definitive answer to ANYTHING. “They (trustees) could, they might, we probably” was met with sustained questions of “what does that mean?” and his only answer was “well, we think, we might AND THEY COULD CAUSE THEY CAN AND POSSIBLY, SHOULD.”
IN SHORT HE WAS OPENLY ADMITTING THE FACT THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OR ANY CERTAINTY ON P&H AT ALL. NONE.
He discussed Tom Ligon’s oft touted “reciprocity” in terms of “they COULD (the 2 plans) let money earned in one plan, added together with money earned in another plan, equal a certain amount of benefits, by this concept of ‘reciprocity.’ The trustees MIGHT do that.” Ditto for examples of pension credits, etc.
The fiduciary responsibility to the members ARGUMENT – IS SO STUPID. WE ARE JUST BEGINNING TO COME OUT OF A PERIOD OF TIME IN 2008 WHEN WE ALMOST ENTERED A 2ND DEPRESSION BECAUSE WALL STREET TOOK THEIR “FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY” TO THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, AND FLUSHED IT DOWN THE TOILET – FOR THEIR PERSONAL GAIN.
When I spoke, I just said “I don’t see ONE SINGLE STAR HERE TONIGHT(It was pretty full) I said “WE are the 99% – and this merger is about MONEY.” I said “SAG has a 2.9 BILLION DOLLAR PENSION PLAN – AFTRA has a 1.9 BILLION DOLLAR PENSION PLAN. THAT IS WHAT THIS MERGER IS ABOUT.” Then? I simply read, with Erik-Anders Nilson’s help (me, my 2 minutes, him, his 1 minute second question, me, my 1 minute second question) the opposition report, and asked people “pro or con, to please READ THIS OPPOSITION STATEMENT.”
I came away more convinced than EVER that this is a complete mess, and they are OPENLY LYING to the membership. It is SHAMEFUL. AND, it was nowhere NEAR a pro-merger crowd, and that was in NYC!!!!!
It was, I’d guess, 60-40 pro-merger, at BEST.
Matt is passionate advocate for SAG members which is reflected in his language. Hopefully he understands the Ol’ Dog’s minor editing. Oh, and here is something you might want to catch:
REMINDER: SPECIAL ONLINE EVENT
Shape the Future of Your Union:
Learn More about the Proposed Merger of AFTRA and SAG
All paid-up AFTRA and SAG members in good standing are urged to attend an important online meeting to learn the facts and impact of the merger.
Wednesday, Feb. 22, 4-6 p.m. PT; 7-9 p.m. ET
Log in to AFTRA Members Only to view this members-only presentation.
Roberta Reardon, AFTRA National President
Ken Howard, SAG National President
Matt Kimbrough, AFTRA National Treasurer
Amy Aquino, SAG National Secretary-Treasurer
Holter Graham, AFTRA National Vice President
Ned Vaughn, SAG 1st National Vice President
Gabrielle Carteris, AFTRA 2nd National Vice President
Mike Hodge, SAG 2nd National Vice President
David Hartley-Margolin, SAG 3rd National Vice President
Anne Gartlan, AFTRA New York Local First Vice President
Rebecca Damon, SAG NY Division Vice President
Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, AFTRA National Executive Director
David White, SAG National Executive Director
Email your questions for the panelists to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at #sagaftra
The Ol’ Watchdog