Good Morning. I’m Gretchen Koerner – an actor, a Screen Actors Guild member and the Chair of the Screen Actors Guild National Legislative Committee.
We’ve become so used to hearing it that it is no longer a headline. Well, I am saying it to you again today -- before it becomes a punch line.
Americans are losing jobs in the entertainment industry, and it has been going on for years. You’ve heard the statistics; the United States is hemorrhaging jobs in the film industry. And these are not jobs lost in an industry that is suffering – these are jobs that are senselessly outsourced in an industry that is thriving and currently, setting box office records for summer releases.
We see it here in Los Angeles and at our branches across the country. Forty seven thousand (47,000) jobs are lost every year. That not only greatly diminishes my ability to make a living as an actor, but it affects the health and well-being of my family and my community. The numbers are so compelling, that now more than 30 states have instituted film incentive programs to fight Canadian Film Subsidies, and to keep film, television and commercial production in the United States. State elected leaders and state taxpayers have stepped up to try to level the playing field. Today, we are asking the federal government to step up.
Screen Actors Guild represents 120,000 actors. Sure, a very few of our members, who are recognizable names and celebrities, travel with productions to Canada to work. One, two, three, perhaps four actors on a production, but the vast majority of our members do not go – supporting players, co-stars, guest stars, day players, stand-ins, background actors, stunt performers, singers, dancers – we stay at home, and watch American producers take American films across the border and employ Canadian performers.
Why do they go to Canada? One reason: Canadian film subsidies. Subsidies that are in place for the sole purpose of drawing film and television production away from the United States. It’s clear and simple. We are simply asking for the U. S. Trade Representative to determine if these egregious subsidies are in violation of trade agreements.
Screen Actors Guild members and staff are committed to saving union jobs. When Screen Actors Guild members work here, it benefits everyone; our families, our communities, unions, local business, and our government. So we have joined in this filing with our fellow labor unions, and city councils around the country, to restore our ability to make a living. The next 45 days will show us if the U. S. Government will come to the aid of its citizens and formally investigate the Canadian Subsidy Program.