The Bulletin Board wars are heating up on the new commercial contract proposal that will soon be going out to the membership of both SAG and AFTRA!
Those in favor of the contract are being described as DOVES and those against are being called HAWKS.
What follows is a thought provoking exchange between the designated “Dove,” New York AFTRA board member Anne Gartlan (1ST VICE PRESIDENT), and the so called “Hawk,” Hollywood Board member David Jolliffe. Is one a dove and the other a hawk? You decide.
Anne Gartlan writes:
I appreciate the care with which you posed your argument. It’s rare on this bulletin board. So it is with respect that I say what I say.
The Hawk/Dove model you describe (and I hope my use of YOUR Hawk/Dove model doesn’t prove inflammatory)doesn’t describe the history to me. Labor Contract negotiations are more complicated than the “price haggling” you describe. Prior to the 2000 negotiation, there was much ‘sabre rattling’ by the Daniels Hollywood Hawks (again, YOUR label, not mine). The trade press coverage of that ‘sabre rattling’ was even mentioned by Industry’s lead negotiator on the opening day of negotiations in 2000 and he stated how un-helpful it was to negotiations. The tough talk about pay-for-play in cable and ‘doing whatever it takes’ helped set the scenario for the strike. It led to Industry’s position that they wanted Class A-use replaced with a buyout as COUNTER for our PPP proposal. Of course, who wouldn’t want PPP, but it was never achievable, especially at the rates envisioned in our proposal.
The dynamic insured that we would have to go on strike. The Hollywood Hawks were on strike for PPP, and the rest of us were on strike to preserve Class A. Industry has stated they want to get rid of Class A in ALL of the recent negotiations and we have held onto Class A in every other negotiation without a costly job action.
Had we not gone on strike, I believe we could have ended up with the same deal in April, ’00 (at the contract’s expiration) as we got in October (minus Internet coverage, which was a good surprise to all of us). But we ‘Doves’ knew the H’wood Hawks would have had it defeated in referendum. The Daniels contingent had just defeated the merger referendum in ’98, so we had very good reason to believe they would control the same voters.
The following is very critical to understanding the gains in 2000. Remember, the 140% increase in o/c cable use was PAID FOR out of the wages of OTHER aspects of the contract, NOT because the Hawks held out so long. The haggling you spoke of really happened in our OWN committee. We all knew the goal number, i.e., the dollar figure Industry was willing to put on the table. WE had to decide WHERE to put it. The v/o rate, for example, took a huge hit for our o/c brothers & sisters, the 4.5 Session Fee increase was much lower than customary, again there was no increase in wild spot, there was a ramp-up in the o/c cable rate, so the full rate increase was NOT in the rate until the third year of the contract (therefore it had a reduced impact on the cost of the contract). AND it was paid for by the lost wages in 2000 due to the strike. Those numbers LITERALLY went into the calculation.
I also wish to take issue with your argument in other posts that we have lost ground against Ad Spending. That has never been a valid measure for our contract purposes. We’ve always been less than 2%. The reason ad spending is up so much (yes, cable continues to gain ground) is due to the enormous increases in Network ad time, an increase that is counter-intuitive given the fragementing of the network audiencesi.e., higher CPM’s for fewer eyeballs. But as the advertisiers know, it’s still the biggest bang for their buck for products with mass appeal.
If saying that I’m a reasonable Dove means that I think strikes are not good for us, I plead guilty. They should always be the weapon of last resort. I voted FOR the strike in 2000, but for the reasons stated earlier. And we have money-ground to recover and good will-ground to recover with our bargaining partners. Yes, I see them as our business partners, not just our adversaries. Industry is made up of human beings who can get their backs up just like we can.
Many a career that I know will never recover. Industry got used to younger, more inexperienced non-union folks, and I believe my generation aged 10 years during the strike. You are talented, and fortunate to be one of the few of us doing so well, and I applaud you.
Given this economy, given the unions’ economics, this negotiation was a smart way to go. It respects the big picture, which includes the upcoming TV/Theatrical negotiations where we have to try to do something to stop producers from invoking the Tape Rates for all of their digital productionsTape Rates that are in BOTH the AFTRA & SAG contracts. That’s HUGE! And the W&W’s are [HERE]. Our unions can conduct negotiations on only so many fronts at one time….
If this contract is voted down, we will be back at the bargaining table and all of the onerous proposals Industry can think of will be back on the table. They got NOTHING out of this contract but labor peace, which is not nothing. To camapaign against this deal is to camapaign for a strike, because that is the only way it can all play out. I don’t mean to fear-monger here, that’s just what will happen.
I don’t really expect that I will change your mind. I hope to present some arguments for those who ‘lurk’ here, i.e., read-but-don’t-post. But again, I appreciate the respectful way you present your POV; I have tried to do the same.
Mr. Jolliffe responded:
Anne says we “saber rattled” prior to the 2000 negotiations, and that THAT “helped set the scenario for a strike”. She then glosses over the fact that the “saber rattling” was over the fact that we had just gotten a letter from the JPC in September of 1999 demanding a Class-A rollback to a buyout of $2.045.45 on-camera per cycle. This letter was sent BEFORE we had ANY cable proposal determined. So to claim that the JPC had the Class-A buyout on the table to counter or cable pay-per-play proposal is impossible!
She then goes on to say the we could have had the same deal we ended-up with, except for Internet coverage, “but we ‘Doves’ knew the H’wood Hawks would have had it defeated in referendum.” And “The Daniels contingent had just defeated the merger referendum in ’98, so we had very good reason to believe they would control the same voters.” PA-lease We don’t “control” ANY of the members. What we knew, as did Anne, was that the members would never approve the deal that was offered us by the JPC!! And I don’t believe for one second that if we had been offered no Class-A rollback, .15% added for monitoring, .50% added to P&H and H&R, and $2,460.00 in third year for cable, that ANYBODY would have turned that down. But that wasn’t what was on the table when we went on strike. What was there was: A buyout for Class-A, $1,350 max cable, no Internet, no monitoring money, and no P&H increase.
Anne says we paid for the cable increase out “other aspects of the contract”. What other aspects? The money wasn’t there! The money on table when we went on strike was nowhere near the money we finally ended-up with!! It is impossible for us to have taken the deal offered us in April and turned it into what we ended-up with. Which is the claim Anne is making. We went on strike with approximately a 5%-6% increase on the table. We ended-up with well over 10%. Compare that to the deal being offered today of, (at it’s best), 6.5%.
Anne is partially correct though when she says that the V/O Community gave to the on-camera performer. What the V/O Community graciously did do was TAKE LESS OF AN INCREASE. But trust me They still did very well and received a 90+% increase ($760.50 to $1438.50) over the 1997 contract where the on-camera performer received 140%. (Remember, it was the on-camera performer that was getting killed by overexposure in cable.)
Anne mentions that we’ve lost money ground and good will ground. As to the money ground The last two earnings quarters of the Commercials Contract have skyrocketed since November when the full $2460 rate kicked in. As to the good will ground I also want good will between the JPC and us. But the thing that some seem to forget, is that it was the JPC that came after US. They threw the gauntlet down in 1997 when the stated they weren’t going to pay Class-A residuals after the year 2000. Please remember that!! Them coming after Class-A was NOT a counter to our PPP for cable proposal. A proposal by the way that Anne and EVERY SINGLE S.A.G. AND AFTRA BOARD MEMBER VOTED FOR!
I don’t tell people to yes or no on this current contract. There are many issues at play – collectively and individually. (Larry Cedar’s post about the different dynamics from 2000 to today says it all) All I say is that
I’m voting “no” because of the pathetic 5% increase in on-camera cable. An increase that destroys the hard fought pattern we established for a much greater increase. And that this “wages and fringes” only negotiation has brought back the lowest wages and fringes in history. I also feel that this current contract sets a terrible table for the upcoming TV/Theatrical Negotiations.
Thanks to Ms. Gartlan and Mr. Jolliffe for their articulate, informative debate.
All we can say is give us more! The above debate appeared on www.Idotvads.com — Plenty of fire works and lots of interesting perspectives on SAG politics. We at SAG Watchdog suggest you check it out. To reference all the remarks made in the above exchange go to the Bulletin Board string that begins with “140 percent: a perspective.”
SAG Watchdog Editor and Chief A.L.Miller
The above photographs where not those of the actual participants or professional look-a-likes—but where an actual Hawk and Dove.