Atlanta 2016:01

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The Official E-Newsletter of the SAG-AFTRA Atlanta Local
The Official E-Newsletter of the SAG-AFTRA Atlanta Local
January 2016

2015-2017 LOCAL BOARD

Ric Reitz – President

Michael Pniewski – First Vice President

Jon Hayden – Second Vice President

Yolanda Asher - Secretary

Ray Benitez

Tye Claybrook

Doug Kaye

Sheila Maddox

Debra Nelson

Michelle Rivera 

Barry Stoltze


Atlanta Local Executive Director

Melissa Goodman

Atlanta Local Assistant Executive Director

Alison Wise

Administrative Assistant

Briana Franklin

Contact Info

455 E. Paces Ferry Road NE, Suite 334

Atlanta, GA 30305

Tel. (404) 239-0131

Fax (404) 239-0137


For nearly 75 years, the USO has served U.S. military members throughout their service, from the moment they join, through their deployments and as they transition back to their communities.

For the sixth year, SAG-AFTRA is helping to ensure that the USO can continue to be by their side for years to come.

Consider showing your support by making a donation in honor of our service members and their families online at

Your donation of $25 can provide service members with the opportunity to call home and connect with their loved ones, supplies for game nights or a selection of movies to help them enjoy an evening off.

A gift of $50 helps supply USO facilities with couches, video games or familiar snacks from home.

A $100 donation can guarantee troops have access to technology like Skype or email, or provide cheer boxes for troops.

SAG-AFTRA members have a long history of supporting service members and the USO. With your help, we can continue to show our service members how much their sacrifices are appreciated. 








A Message from the SAG-AFTRA Atlanta President

Ric Reitz 

Greetings Fellow Members,

Last year was a great year for our local, as the Motion Picture Association of America officially declared Georgia the third-largest production center in the United States.

Incredibly, Georgia has averaged over 30 productions a month during that time, with one month having over 40 simultaneous productions. Thankfully, we’re seeing more and more local members getting hired as well.

I’d also like to welcome our many new members. In 2015, we had 154 new joins and 83 transfers to our market. Our total membership, as of this writing, is now 1,700, and it appears we’ll continue to grow at this pace or better into the foreseeable future.

With more work, of course, comes more competition. You should all be doing whatever you can to improve your skills and be ready to take advantage of opportunities as they appear. The more professional and prepared you are, the better your chances of getting booked. And every time you audition, you are a reflection of this marketplace. So, please do your homework.

Along those lines, our SAG-AFTRA Muriel Moore/Danny Nelson Conservatory is still holding monthly workshops and seminars aimed at helping you hone your skills at no charge, although seating is restricted. Read the attached notes from Conservatory Committee Chair Clayton Landey to get more information, and you can follow the member-run Conservatory Facebook group so you can have the latest news as it relates to its schedule of events.

In midsummer, another election for our local board of directors was held in conjunction with national elections. Ken Howard was re-elected president, Jane Austin was elected to the national secretary-treasurer’s position and Gabrielle Carteris was re-elected executive vice president. All will serve two-year terms.

Atlanta Local Board  

Locally, I was re-elected president; Mike Pniewski, 1st vice president; Jon Hayden, 2nd vice president; Yolanda Asher, secretary; Debra Nelson, National Board rep and Local Board member; and rounding out the board alphabetically are Ray Benitez, Tye Claybrook Jr., Doug Kaye, Sheila Maddox, Michelle Rivera and Barry Stoltze. With the exception of Debra Nelson’s National Board seat, every local board member is serving a two-year term. Debra’s position nationally is for four years.

Our local committees were reconstituted after the election, also for two-year terms. The following list of committee chairs is provided for your knowledge and convenience:

Agent Relations Committee: Debra Nelson, chair; Ric Reitz, vice chair

Atlanta HealthNet Committee: Dr. Jared Simon, chair; Yolanda Asher, vice chair; 

Muriel Moore/Danny Nelson SAG-AFTRA Conservatory: Clayton Landey, chair; Tye Claybrook, vice chair

Diversity (EEO) Committee: Ray Benitez, chair; Michelle Rivera, vice chair

Indie Outreach Committee: Yolanda Asher, chair; Carrie Anne Hunt, vice chair

Lend Me An Ear Committee: Barry Stoltze, chair; Doug Kaye, vice chair

Organizing Committee: Jon Hayden, chair; Barry Stoltze, vice chair

Stunt & Safety Committee: Scott Dale, chair; Elizabeth Davidovich, vice chair

Wages & Working Conditions Committee: Mike Pniewski, chair; Sheila Maddox, vice chair

The local president, if not otherwise noted, serves as ex-officio on all committees.

Further, the following local members serve on national committees: 

Ray Benitez: EEO Committee

Dante Ha: Stunt and Safety

Debra Nelson: Commercial Negotiating Committee, Committee of Locals, Reinstatement Obligations Review and Right To Work Committee

Ric Reitz: chair of the Right To Work Committee, Fi-Core Committee

Barry Stoltze: Organizing Committee

And, Mike Pniewski, who has served on three TV/Theatrical negotiations, also serves as a trustee for the SAG-Producers Pension & Health Fund, which shows that local members can make a difference nationally. 

Later this spring, we will be holding our annual member meeting. Details will be published as soon as they are available.

As a reminder, Georgia was granted a three-year, Special Performers Contract (SPC) waiver for corporate/educational and non-broadcast (formerly industrial) productions. This waiver allows for the employment of mixed casts of non-professionals not covered by the contract and professionals who would be guaranteed union wages. It is hoped that this waiver will help facilitate union contracts and wages for professional performers on productions that would otherwise remain non-union.   

Please contact Melissa Goodman or Alison Wise in our local office for more details. You could be missing opportunities to work if you don’t learn about this important waiver. Frankly, we’ve discovered members need to be their own best salesperson in this regard. So, get working to get more work for yourself!

Finally, a new local staff position was added in 2015. Please welcome Briana Franklin as our new administrative assistant. She joined our office in August. 

Thanks for the read. I am proud to serve as your president. This year is sure to be another great year. So, get ready, work hard and break a leg!


Ric Reitz
SAG-AFTRA Atlanta Local President