May 6, 2008
By John Singer
Colorado's so-called 'Right-to-Work' Ballot Initiative
A group calling itself A Better Colorado is pushing a ballot initiative to make Colorado a right-to-work state. It's a catchy title. I mean, who doesn't want a better Colorado?
Unfortunately, what they've neglected to mention is that statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that in right-to-work states all workers have a consistently lower quality of life than in union security states—e.g., lower wages, higher poverty and less health care. So, how is right-to-work going to give us a better Colorado?
Moreover, as a Screen Actors Guild member, you need to understand that right-to-work would allow a non-union person to work a union job without paying anything. That's right! We would be supporting a bunch of freeloaders. In a right-to-work state, non-members are entitled to work the same jobs under a union contract, receiving the same pay and pension and health contributions without ever having to join. Every time a non-union person works under a union contract, it undermines our power and weakens our union. In the long-term, right-to-work laws have the potential to lower the bar for everyone.
The Colorado AFL-CIO and Denver Area Labor Federation (DALF) have aptly renamed the A Better Colorado (aka right to work) campaign '"Work for Less." DALF has held several organizational and training meetings for AFL-CIO locals. Leadership has been trained in how to engage both the public and media in a dialogue on the issue and why working for less is bad for Colorado. The CO Branch has sent representatives to all meetings, and we have voiced our desire and willingness to be at the forefront. But it's going to be a tough battle.
Unfortunately, on April 9, organizers of "Work for Less" filed more than 133,000 signatures with Secretary of State Mike Coffman's office. They needed only 76,000 valid signatures to get the measure on the November 2008 ballot, and the necessary signatures were verified.
Organized labor is countering with several ballot initiatives of our own, including Just Cause, which would restrict the ability of companies to fire workers, and Corporate Fraud, which allows a private citizen to sue a business or its employees after a corporate fraud.
Gov. Bill Ritter held a high-profile closed-door meeting April 7 in his Capitol office asking both sides to stand down. To date, neither side has backed off.
The governor hasn't given up, according to his spokesman Evan Dreyer, and will continue to try to keep these issues off the November ballot.
If you'd like to take an active role in helping fight "Work for Less," please call the Colorado Screen Actors Guild office at (720) 932-8193; (800) SAG-0767 or e-mail Julie Crane at email@example.com.
In the meantime, stay tuned for updates...
House Bill 1355—Film Incentive Legislation
Although it had broad statewide support from the media, citizens, legislators, business and labor, House Bill 1355 was voted down last month by the House Finance Committee. HB 1355 would have created a $25 million dollar tax credit program to help put Colorado back in the film business, like many of the states that surround us.
After nearly three hours of testimony from over a dozen industry supporters, including Screen Actors Guild member John Ashton and filmmaker Irvin Kershner, the House of Representatives Finance Committee voted 6 to 5 not to pass the legislation.
I want to thank the Colorado Film Commission, Colorado State Representatives Tom Massey and Cheri Jahn and all our members who participated in this endeavor.
Needless to say, this is an enormous setback to the industry. Colorado will not have a competitive incentive program to attract new business.
On the bright side, we will be back again next year and have another go at it. The legislators supporting a Colorado film incentive program say they have not given up and will continue to attempt to bring Colorado into the 21st Century of film.
I'm hopeful the November elections will be kind to us. Be sure to find out where the legislators and candidates in your area stand on this vital issue.
New 75th Anniversary SAG Gear Available
Visit sagaftrashop.com for the latest in must-have, union-made merchandise. Check out the new Screen Actors Guild 75th anniversary items including T-shirts and polos. Get ready for spring and warm weather with a new camisole or cap and demonstrate your good taste and union pride.
Finally, the Screen Actor's Guild Colorado Branch is busy planning a 75th anniversary celebration here for its Colorado members. See below for more information about the "C"ollywood Celebration.
What: Film on the Rocks
Where: Red Rocks Amphitheater
When: Tuesday, June 17
Film on the Rocks, now in its ninth season, presents an incredible night of live music. followed by a popular movie (to be determined), at one of the best natural amphitheatres in the world.
To celebrate Screen Actors Guild's 75th Anniversary, Colorado SAG members will enjoy two complimentary tickets (including free parking) and revel in the festivities in their own VIP section. SAG will be honored at the event with a special introduction.
Doors open at 6 p.m. Members are encouraged to arrive early and check out the band beginning at 7 p.m. The movie starts at dusk (approximately 9 p.m.)
An RSVP will be required. Please look for your official invitation in the mail. The Colorado Branch contact person is Tamara Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (720) 932-8193.
The Colorado Branch would like to thank the Denver Film Society for helping us to make this great night possible.
David Stoddard serves as the secretary-treasurer of the Colorado Branch Council. He is also very active on the national scene, serving on four SAG committees.
When did you first get your SAG card?
DS: I got my card in 1975, after doing two national commercials (one for a bank and one for KFC).
How did you get so involved with SAG at the local level?
DS: For a long time, as a Wyoming member I got shuttled off to Hollywood. When they changed my branch affiliation to Colorado, I went to my first meeting and got nominated and elected from the floor for a council seat. I think it has been about six years. That was when SAG and AFTRA had offices together out on Cherry Street.
I stay involved because we don't have a lot of people involved and I don't want to lose our brick and mortar presence in Denver. I also want to give back to SAG what so many people have given to me throughout the years.
Tell us about your work on the SAG national committees. Why have you chosen to make that commitment?
DS: Anything that's going on nationally affects all of us in the Branches. I'm currently on four national committees. I'm on the National Agent Relations Committee (NARC), which is chaired by SAG President Alan Rosenberg. We're doing some really critical ongoing work to rebuild Screen Actors Guild's relationship with talent agents.
I also serve on the Guild Government Review Committee (GGRC), which is chaired by Colorado's National Board Member David Hartley-Margolin. We operate at the discretion of the National Board and make recommendations regarding SAG constitutional issues.
The Senior Performers Committee has been established to protect senior actors, but we haven't actually met yet.
The National Stunt and Safety Committee deals primarily with safety issues for every actor and other concerns dealing specifically with stunt performers. I'm on this committee because while I'm not a stunt performer, I've been involved with safety all my life. We work to assure the protection of all performers. For example, we occasionally deal with situations where production might try to get an actor to perform an action which should be accomplished by a stunt performer.
When all is said and done, on any committee, the basic purpose is to get feedback from members and resolve issues.
I want to point out that I'm not on these committees because I'm a council member. On most national committees, any active, paid-up member in good standing can serve as a committee member or alternate. Recommendations for national committee appointments are submitted to the Regional Branch Division Board for consideration and approval by the RBD co-chair of each committee. If you're interested in serving on the local council or on a national committee, you should contact our branch executive Julie Crane at (720) 932-8193 or email@example.com. We need solidarity as a union.
I would encourage members to stay informed and get involved. I love acting. Working with actors, whether it be on the set or on a national committee, is a way for me to stay connected. Every one of these interactions is a learning experience.
Anything else you want to share with your fellow Colorado SAG members?
Get on iActor. It's making tremendous inroads for people who want to work. It gives an actor on opportunity to get a headshot and resume in front of a casting director through the Internet.
On March 4, Screen Actors Guild launched iActor, the only union-hosted online casting directory featuring onsite Station 12 cast clearance and showcasing exclusively SAG members.
Simple, functional, convenient and free, iActor -- Screen Actors Guild's revolutionary online casting directory— is an essential career and production tool.
iActor puts SAG members at the fingertips of casting professionals, and is the only online casting directory that exclusively features SAG members and automated Station 12 cast clearance.
Available to all casting directors working on signatory productions, iActor allows casting professionals to search through members' headshots, resumes and media by any combination of terms, such as gender, ethnicity, special skills or credits.
By creating their resumes and adding their headshots, SAG members will be at the fingertips of the industry's top casting professionals. Members can even use the service to email resumes to casting directors directly, any time of the day or night.
What Casting Directors Want You to Know
Casting directors are on iActor daily, digitally sourcing and then clearing talented Screen Actors Guild members for work in SAG-signatory productions. Many members aren't listing a contact number on resumes, so they can't be reached for auditions. Please make sure to list your current contact information (either a service number or your representative's), so you won't miss that important work call.
We've also noticed that many resumes aren't "viewable," so as far as the casting community is concerned, you aren't seen. It's extremely important to complete the final step in completing your iActor resume. You have to mark it "viewable." As always, if you have questions, SAG's WebHelp team is ready to assist you at (323) 549-6789 or (800) 724-0767, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Strong, Flexible, Fast and Easy way to use SAG Talent
Just released, SAG's New Media Contract radically expands opportunities for SAG members to work in new media. Whether you are producing new media content or appearing on screen, this new contract greenlights your way.
The contract is...
• STRONG. It protects the use of your work -- wherever new media technology takes it!
• FLEXIBLE. Performers and producers now have a flexible contract specifically designed for new media production!
• FAST. You can sign contracts and get shooting in record time!
• EASY. Performers and producers can use one contract for all new media distribution!
SAG wants to work with everyone who produces new media, and we're counting on you to spread the word. It's every member's right and responsibility to only perform on SAG covered new media projects.
To help organize new media, call (888) 963-3429.
Get a Colorado Filmmaker membership. Colorado SAG members are eligible, as a "filmmaker" is defined as anyone (including teaching faculty) who can provide proof of a current professional or film/video/television or radio affiliation through a media-related organization such as CFVA, SAG, AFTRA, WAG or with a verifiable business card.
With the purchase of a Colorado Filmmaker membership ($35 annually), you'll receive:
• Free admission for one to the Starz FilmCenter at the time of your in-person box office Membership purchase (not valid for purchases made by phone or online)
• Unlimited discounts for one at the Starz FilmCenter box office and concession stand
• Free admission for one filmmaker, to quarterly special DFS Filmmaker Programming at the Starz FilmCenter and/or Starz Denver Film Festival (Programs will be announced in the weekly E-club newsletter as Special DFS Filmmaker Program)
• Discounts on admission to special DFS events, including Starz Denver Film Festival screenings
• Advance booking opportunities for Starz Denver Film Festival screenings
• Discounts on all Starz FilmCenter Theater rentals
• Free admission for one to all monthly members-only screenings
• Free quarterly catalogs and weekly e-newsletters
Sign up online at www.denverfilmsociety.org or at the Starz FilmCenter Box Office.