Washington, D.C. (May 23, 2010) — The nation’s top union leader, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, addressed leaders from the Screen Actors Guild Regional Branch Division (RBD) at their annual board meeting Saturday in Washington, D.C. The RBD includes 20 Branches spanning from Boston to Hawaii. Nearly 28,000 Screen Actors Guild members who work in film and television live in the regional branches.
"SAG does such a great job of representing performing artists and is also doing more than ever as part of our entire union movement," Trumka told the audience. "SAG's active support of all workers' rights has been crucial in helping us keep labor issues in the spotlight."
Trumka’s address touched on important issues to SAG members including digital theft, so-called “right to work” states, and the power of political and legislative activism to enact laws to protect SAG members and win tax incentives to increase production work.
"SAG and other entertainment unions are at the forefront of protecting the rights of working performers across the digital media terrain," he said. "The online theft of copyrighted works and the sale of illegal CDs and DVDs cost actors and other entertainment industry workers millions of dollars in wages, including residuals each year. They're stealing from you, and that translates directly into fewer jobs, less compensation and reduced benefits for entertainment professionals. The people you elect to Congress at the national level have the power to crack down on piracy—and they hold your residuals in their hands. Turning a blind eye to the theft of copyrighted work is no different than permitting the theft of the wages of any worker."
“When it comes to the entertainment industry, we have no better friend in labor. President Trumka gets our issues,” said SAG President Ken Howard. “President Trumka is a true unionist and a fierce fighter for working people. We’re honored he joined us today and honored that he is a true friend to Screen Actors Guild.” Howard sits on the AFL-CIO Executive Council where he concentrates on issues that affect the Guild, the Associated Actors and Artistes of America, professional employees and the entertainment and media industries.
Trumka commended Howard: “Because of your leadership, the issues of your members, and the issues of a lot of working people have made it to the forefront. I appreciate your leadership on the executive council and we appreciate your leadership in the labor movement.”
In addition to Howard, other SAG leaders in attendance included SAG Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino, SAG 3rd National Vice President David Hartley-Margolin, SAG Washington-Baltimore Branch President Kirk Penberthy, SAG National Executive Director David White, among other elected officers from across the country.