The following message is the second in a series of responses to members questions at recent Town Hall meetings and sent to us via email. Please watch for additional messages over the coming weeks.
Know the Facts!
How can we be asked to authorize the National board to call a TV/Theatrical strike in this time of economic crisis?
There is no good time to consider a strike. Strikes are called only when management’s bargaining positions are intolerable and then only by a vote of the elected actors on the National Board, if authorized by a membership referendum. But, tough economic times are when it is most necessary to be unified to resist the studios and networks effort to obliterate contract provisions in our future work. The AMPTP’s contract proposal in new media creates a business model with no minimums, no residuals and the right to produce non-union whenever they want.
Our employers are publicly held companies with currently unhappy shareholders whose investments in studios and networks have been severely reduced in value as a result of the Wall Street crash. Our employers will respond by cutting expenses wherever possible. Our only protection from the cost-cutting hatchet is a strong contract - - with minimums, pension/health contributions and safe working conditions, including in all new media formats where our work is clearly headed fast. Just watch and see how many times network dotcom logos appear on your television screen.
This union was founded in 1933 during the Great Depression. We achieved our first contract with the studios in 1937. Despite general unemployment then at 25%, working actors formed Screen Actors Guild to resist the studios demand that all actors take a 50% pay cut because of the economic hard times for the entertainment industry in the 1930’s. Actors then, at great risk to their careers, stood together and refused management’s rollbacks.
The economic crisis puts pressure on both sides of the table in the TV/Theatrical contracts negotiation. The studios and networks are much more vulnerable today than they were a year ago facing the WGA. Certainly, actors face an uncertain future as unemployment rises. But the AMPTP’s proposal will make it impossible for actors to earn a living for work in new media. If Internet productions become the new TV pilots and network dotcoms showcase original productions and you can watch all new media product on a Sony Bravia flat screen TV hooked directly to the Internet - - how will the working actor survive without minimums, residuals and pension and health benefits? Both sides in this dispute should compromise on an agreement, not just the members of SAG.
Send that message to the AMPTP companies by voting yes on the strike authorization referendum.
Please visit the SAG website at www.sag.org for up to the minute information and email your questions or comments to Contract2008@sag.org (this is an email address and not a live web link.)
More than 3,000 SAG members have signed on to the solidarity campaign at
www.sag.org If you haven’t yet signed the Guild’s solidarity statement in
support of a fair contract and a “yes” vote on the strike authorization, do
so now at http://www.sag.org/solidarity-signup-sheet
Read recent SAG Talk posts at http://www.sag.org/sag-talk including former
SAG President Ed Asner’s Los Angeles Times opinion piece and SAG member and
New York Division board member Eric Bogosian’s open letter to members. Also
see new support videos on the home page and at SAG TV.