A MESSAGE FROM THE 1ST VICE PRESIDENT
By Anne-Marie Johnson
Still no uplifting news to share. And from what I’ve heard from SAG members regarding my March Call Sheet letter, this shift in 2009-2010 pilot season is truly hitting a sensitive nerve.
One member contacted me regarding his health coverage. He’s been a SAG member for quite some time and qualified for Plan I the majority of his career. He’s now facing medical challenges for the first time in his life, as we all will as we get older. Just a couple of years ago health coverage was not a concern for this actor. But in the matter of eight months, his SAG coverage is in jeopardy and he will more than likely not earn enough for AFTRA coverage. He is now hoping to at least secure the required $10,400 (with 10 health plan years for actors 40 years of age and older) to qualify for SAG's Plan II. He's forced to call in favors and possibly work way below his quote. That's the hard cold reality for this actor and thousands of other SAG members.
My goal as your vice president was to call for a membership meeting in order for Hollywood members to talk openly and honestly about the current state of union affairs. And to receive honest, helpful information and answers from SAG elected and staff regarding our current situation, with options to find solutions. But with the three-year extension of the Non-Raiding/Non Disparagement Agreement between SAG and AFTRA, originally facilitated by the AFL-CIO, an open, honest and factually based public town hall meeting among elected, staff and SAG members will unfortunately not take place.
Considering these restrictions, I strongly encourage Hollywood members to come to the joint Wages and Working Conditions meetings and caucuses, which are tentatively set for May. By participating, members will hopefully learn, contribute and engage. The Hollywood Board also holds monthly board meetings which are open to members at large. Come and observe your elected serving the members at our best and, sometimes, our worst.
I’d much rather be sharing more encouraging, hopeful news. But it would be irresponsible for me, as one of your SAG elected, to ignore the 900-pound gorilla (i.e., the lack of work) sitting on our collective chests.
FORMER BOARD MEMBER
On March 30 former Screen Actors Guild National Board Member and past chair of the SAG EEO Latino/Hispanic Subcommittee Miluka Rivera was honored with an Exceptional Woman Award (Arts & Culture) by the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión. The Puerto Rican actor is among 30 Latina woman selected for making a difference in her community for her work on behalf of Latino actors.
HOUSING PROGRAM SETS
SIGHTS ON LOS ANGELES
The Actors Fund, a national human services organization that helps SAG members and others who work in the performing arts and entertainment, has just launched the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation. The corporation’s mission is to develop high quality affordable and senior housing for the performing arts community in major urban arts center. The AFHDC is currently in the planning stages, evaluating opportunities in Los Angeles, Newark and New York City.
“Dancers, actors, and singers often have low incomes, and only a small percentage of them works full time,” says Scott Weiner, chairman of the new development corporation. “Launching the corporation will extend our reach and effectiveness in a very vital area for our community—providing safe, affordable housing for those in need."
TEAM FOR WOMEN
Join your fellow SAG members in Los Angeles and thousands of walkers and runners in the fight against women's cancers by participating in the 17th Annual Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) Revlon Run/Walk For Women. The EIF Revlon Run/Walk For Women raises vital funds that support research to find the cause and cure of women's cancers, help provide diagnostic treatment services for medically under-served women, deliver psychosocial services and financial support to women with cancer and their families. To date, the Run/Walk has distributed nearly $50 million dollars to cancer research and patient services.
When: Saturday, May 8, 2010
8 a.m. Opening Ceremonies
8:45 a.m. Run Starts
9:00 a.m. Walk Starts
Where: The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at Exposition Park
To be a part of this special day, you may register at revlonrunwalk.com with a credit card. Please be sure to indicate you are part of team 767. If you do not wish to sign up online, simply call our team captain Leslie Slomka at (323) 549-6447 to get a registration form. You may send the form, stamped with our team number, along with your $30 registration fee, to Race Central (see registration form for address) or turn in the form with your registration fee directly to Slomka.
If you cannot participate but you would like to be a volunteer, you can also be part of our team by visiting revlonrunwalk.com and registering as a volunteer. Just make sure you indicate that you are part of team 767 so that your fundraising will count towards our team fundraising total.
We hope you will join in the camaraderie of Screen Actors Guild by participating in this worthwhile event. If you need additional registration forms or have any questions, please call (323) 549-6447 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YP WEBSITE LAUNCH
PARTY ON APRIL 24
Screen Actors Guild is hosting its second indoor carnival and informational fair to celebrate the launch of its new Young Performers website. The last indoor carnival celebrated the launch of the updated SAG Young Performers Handbook in 2007. Hundreds of SAG young performers have been invited to attend the event, which features games, raffles, information booths, an interactive tour of the new website, a Wii Lounge and more. The carnival will be held at Screen Actors Guild Headquarters in Los Angeles, First Floor Promenade on Saturday, April 24, from 1-4 p.m.
Joint Bargaining Approved;
Howard to Head Committees
Meeting in a videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York on March 13, the Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors approved 78 percent to 22 percent a joint bargaining agreement with AFTRA for the negotiation of successor agreements for the contracts covering theatrical motion pictures and primetime dramatic television. The AFTRA National Board of Directors previously approved joint bargaining at its meeting February 27.
Guild President Ken Howard said, “I applaud the board’s action. Bargaining together is a smart decision and voting up this agreement clearly serves the best interests of all SAG members. I’m grateful to the board and look forward to working with our partners at AFTRA toward a successful negotiation.”
Added Guild National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White, “This is a positive step that delivers a significant benefit to our members. There is no disputing that we are stronger together and joint negotiation of these contracts makes sense for both our organizations."
At its April board plenary, the board appointed President Howard as chair of the Guild’s TV/Theatrical Joint Wages and Working Conditions Plenary and Negotiating committees. He will be a voting member of both committees.
Dates and locations for Hollywood Division Wages and Working Conditions meetings and caucuses will be made available to Hollywood Division members once they are finalized.
White House Urged to Step Up
Action Against Digital Theft
On March 24 a wide coalition representing American movie, television and music industry and labor groups urged the Federal Government to bolster its efforts to protect intellectual property and protect the jobs and wages lost because of content theft.
In response to a request for public comment by the White House’s Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement, SAG, AFTRA, the DGA, IATSE, the NMPA, the MPAA and the RIAA submitted a joint filing that outlined the organizations’ collective views.
The groups commended Victoria Espinel, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, for embarking on this landmark effort to develop the first Joint Strategic Plan for enforcing intellectual property rights. And while they hailed the promise of online distribution models, in their submission they emphasized that its potential was undermined by the theft of creative content.
Click here to download the filing.
Click here to download the AFL-CIO Statement 3-2-10.
Click here to download the Letter to US IPEC Victoria Espinel from AFM, AFTRA, DGA, IATSE & SAG.
Click here to download the release.
SAG Staff Testify Before Calif. Legislature
The California Legislature Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media held a hearing on March 22 regarding legislative efforts to combat digital theft. Titled “Stemming the Tide of Media Piracy: What is Working? What is Not? What is Left to be Done?” the hearing brought together representatives from SAG, DGA, IATSE, RIAA, MPAA and others to detail the impact of digital theft on the entertainment industry in the form of lost earnings and jobs.
“The issue of digital theft is of paramount importance to actors,” Jennifer Heater, SAG manager of government relations and policy, told the members of the committee. “What is at stake is not just the compensation which our members are directly paid for their work, but also the subsequent earnings they receive from residuals which are generated by sales to secondary markets. The reality is 43 percent of an actor’s income is derived from residuals.” In addition, she reported, 36 percent of SAG’s Health and Pension plan is derived by residuals.
“At stake for Screen Actors Guild members are not simply economic considerations. While concerned about their finances, we are also worried about the future of our art and our craft,” Heater said. “The works we create — a home-grown American product — is increasingly at risk from Internet theft. The question for us is whether our legislature is going to help protect content in our society.”
Combating the destructive practice of online theft of copyrighted motion pictures and TV shows is a top priority for Screen Actors Guild, which has worked with labor allies and industry partners to engage in intense activity designed to combat this destructive practice. For a snapshot of some of this work from the past year, click here.
New Approach Ahead for Benefits Payments
Even when you aren’t employed, your union is working for you. Hollywood Executive Director Ilyanne Morden Kichaven and Legal Counsel Bonnie Chavez travelled to Sacramento to meet with key representatives of the California Employment Development Department as part of ongoing advocacy on behalf of SAG members. Along with this outreach, they learned of a new electronic benefit payments plan, scheduled to be released later this year.
Starting this fall, claimants will receive a nationally branded (Visa or MasterCard) debit card in lieu of traditionally issued paper checks and will have the option of transferring their benefits directly into their existing bank account.
The electronic benefit payments card is a reloadable, “prepaid” debit card that is funded in the same manner as traditional direct deposit; only EDD can deposit money into the debit card account. The card will allow the recipient to withdraw their benefit payments via any ATM, financial institution (including the AFTRA-SAG Credit Union), or point-of-sale terminal.
Cardholders will be able to make either PIN-based or signature-based purchases at millions of locations worldwide–wherever Visa or MasterCard are accepted. Already adopted in 43 states, the cardholder benefits include:
• Immediate access to benefit payments by recipients without delay in mail delivery;
• No check-cashing fees for “unbanked” claimants;
• “Banked” claimants will have the option to directly deposit benefit payments into their existing bank accounts;
• Eliminates the problem of checks being lost in the mail;
• Reduces the security risks associated with lost or stolen checks;
• Immediate access to benefits in the event of illness; and
• Ensures business continuity in the event of a disaster.
This program is still under development with a projected rollout at the end of the year. Please check edd.ca.gov for more information on this program as well as employment news.
Don't Miss Out on First-Run Films at a Great Price; Season Kicks Off with Robin Hood!
2010/11 Film Society applications are now being accepted. Hurry, space is limited! See Hollywood’s latest blockbusters at a fraction of the cost! NO commercials! NO trailers! NO kidding!
Sex and the City 2, Robin Hood and Shrek Forever After in 3D kick-off the new season in May.
The price of membership is only $90, so you and a guest can see 50-plus first-run feature films at the state-of-the-art DGA Theatre – many as pre-release screenings, and many with actor Q&As. See the best new movies for approximately $2 per film, and get 10 percent off at Pizza Fusion next door to the DGA Theatre.
For more details, click here, or click here to download an application.
Date Set for 2011 SAG Awards
The Screen Actors Guild Awards will return to a Sunday in 2011. Our 17th annual ceremony will be held on January 30.
Actor nominations for the outstanding film and primetime performances of 2010 will be announced on Thursday, December 16.
The random drawing for the 17th Annual SAG Awards nominating committees took place on Friday, April 16. To have been eligible for the draw, SAG members must have paid their November 2009 dues by April 1, 2010.