There is much going on right now to remind us of the importance and responsibility of being a union member. Two entertainment unions have been on strike. We are happy to report the stagehands of Local One, IATSE have come to a deal and are back to work. The Writers Guild strike continues as of this writing, and we hope for an equitable solution soon.
I have joined many of you on picket lines and at rallies for both unions. The simple act of showing up means a great deal to those who are fighting the very employers that we will meet across the table in 2008. It is not only a show of support, but it also reinforces in me our collective responsibility as union members—to work together for the greater good. While I left those picket lines and rallies with tired feet and a hoarse voice, I’ve also been energized by a sense of unity and a reminder of what my unions (AEA-AFTRA-SAG) have done for me—providing us all with decent wages and working conditions, as well as health care and a pension.
We face our own critical negotiations in the near future. The TV/Theatrical contract expires at the end of June and the Commercials Contract at the end of October. The Guild will face many of the same issues that the WGA is dealing with in negotiations now. Significant among them is the issue of new media. We are on a digital frontier. The platforms and means of distribution are changing rapidly. How we get paid for the use and reuse of our talents and images will be determined at the talks.
These are joint negotiations held with our sister union AFTRA as our bargaining partner. Preparations will soon begin in the form of Wages and Working Condition committee meetings. I urge you all to attend so that you can voice your concerns and share your work experiences. Our negotiating strategy will be crafted by the information we get in these meetings. Be looking for the notices after the holidays.
I hope you all have a terrific holiday and best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year for you and your family.
See you next year.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
I want to thank the New York membership for your patience; in the last SAGazine, I announced the return of NY ACTOR, the printed newsletter of the New York branch. We'd hoped to get it to you before the year's end, but since it is our one and only printed newsletter this fiscal year, we've decided to wait until after the next National Plenary, scheduled for mid-January. That way, we'll be able to give you more breaking news.
In the meantime, as we celebrate the holidays with our families, I want to wish you a prosperous, healthy and happy New Year.
Editor, SAGazine and NY ACTOR
SAG N.Y. SHOWS ITS UNION SOLIDARITY
(Among those members who rallied in New York were, from left, Danny Glover, Joe Narciso, Tim Robbins, Aasif Mandvi, Joe Pantoliano, Sam Freed, Tony Goldwyn, David Proval, Edie Falco, Gilbert Gottfried, Julianna Margulies, Richard Masur, Kristin Davis and Anthony Edwards)
No doubt you are aware of the recent strikes by the Writers Guild of America and by IATSE Local One, the stagehands employees union. Screen Actors Guild supports both unions in their efforts to gain fair and equitable contracts for their members. We congratulate the stagehands union on their recently signed contract.
On November 27, inter-union solidarity was on full display at a giant rally in Washington Square Park. Representatives from a variety of labor organizations, including Service Employees International Union, United Federation of Teachers, NABET, the AFL-CIO, and others, came out to support the striking writers. Leaders of these unions spoke of the need for mutual respect and support. Many see the current struggle as a pivotal moment in the history of organized labor, coming at a time when the present administration seems to be placing more restrictions on organized labor while simultaneously removing restrictions on giant corporations. These sentiments were echoed by various political leaders, including presidential candidate John Edwards and Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer.
SAG New York Division President Sam Freed spoke movingly of his own history in labor unions, starting with his time in the Unified Brotherhood of Carpenters, followed by the International Union of Operating Engineers, and continuing to his current membership in three performers’ unions—SAG, AFTRA, and Actors Equity. Many high-profile SAG actors spoke, including Danny Glover, Tim Robbins and Colin Quinn. All remarked upon their dependence on the talents of the writers to practice their craft, reminding us again of our inter-dependence as artists, and simply as working people.
The rally was an encouraging reminder of the power of a simple message which all labor unions should take to heart—your fight is our fight.
NY DIVERSITY DEPARTMENT HOSTS MEETING OF THE MINDS
On October 1at the JCC on the Upper West Side, SAG’s Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee (EEOC), WGA East and Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts hosted Meeting of the Minds — an open discussion attended by nearly 75 SAG and WGA members. The forum focused on issues facing performers and writers with respect to stories and depictions of underrepresented groups, including ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities.
National Board members Mike Hodge and Nancy Giles were joined by panelists Diana Son (writer/producer), David Steven Cohen (writer/producer), Rodney Stringfellow (writer) and disability advocate and SAG member, Christine Bruno. The event was moderated by Adam Moore, associate national director of SAG’s affirmative action/diversity department.
The success of the evening will lead to additional conversations and collaborations in 2008. Other diversity events in the New York area this fall have included:
• Focus on the South Asian Performer
Hosted by SAG EEOC and Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts on September 27
• Diversity in Filmmaking — panel discussion
SAG Diversity staffer Adam Moore participated in this first-of-its kind panel in Philadelphia, hosted by Greater Philadelphia Film Office.
• Focus on American Indian Performers
Hosted by SAG President’s National Task Force for American Indians on November 26
• LGBT & Me — an evening of pizza and pride
Hosted by SAG National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Actors Committee on November 27
NYCAP ORIENTATION REGISTRATION STARTS JANUARY 22
The New York Casting Access Project (NYCAP) offers SAG members the opportunity to meet and learn from respected casting directors via free workshops. To participate in the workshops, you must first complete the orientation session.
NYCAP Orientation will now be done online and by mail. It is no longer necessary to attend a seminar in order to be eligible to attend the workshops.
To participate, simply sign up on the Foundation’s website, once the event has been posted.
If you have successfully registered for the orientation, you will be sent a formal confirmation notice via email, which will include further details.
It will also be necessary to submit a headshot and resume and other information by mail.
NOTE: You must be a paid-up, eligible SAG member 18 or older (unless otherwise stated) to attend NYCAP events. While we do send out email announcements about upcoming workshops, you should also check the website often. Once announced, the workshops and orientation sessions will be listed under "Upcoming Events."
Foundation hotline: (212) 591-0288
Please note that the above information is subject to change without notice.
SAG FOUNDATION OFFERS FINANCIAL AID FOR HEALTH COVERAGE
It can be confusing, but the SAG Foundation isn't actually part of SAG itself. The Foundation is a philanthropic 501©3 organization, devoted to bettering the lives of actors, and SAG members in particular.
When it comes to healthcare, the SAG Foundation recognizes that continued coverage is of the utmost importance to Guild members and can offer self-pay premium assistance to eligible members demonstrating need.
COBRA Self Pay Premium rates were significantly raised, effective January 1, 2007, and as a result, health insurance rates now start at $400 for a single person on the lower cost option and reach up to $838 for a family. The Self-Pay Premium Assistance Program provides short-term grants to eligible SAG members and their families who have lost their earned eligibility through SAG Pension & Health and wish to continue their health insurance coverage through COBRA.
The Self-Pay Premium Program is a national program that does just what the name implies—it pays a member’s self-pay premium for up to three months while they figure out another arrangement. The program is open to any actor who has been a member in good standing of the Screen Actors Guild for at least five years, and the application process is un-intrusive, compassionate, confidential and swift. There are income caps—single actors must show a gross income of $25,000 or less to qualify and members with dependents must report a gross income of $45,000 or less in the previous tax year—but the Foundation always considers each case individually and is understanding of special circumstances.
For more information on all that's offered by the SAG Foundation go to www.sagfoundation.org
If you have any questions about these programs, you may call the emergency assistance administrator directly at (323) 549-6773.
SAG IS PROUD TO PARTICIPATE AT THIS YEAR’S ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY EXPO!
The ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY EXPO is a FREE five-star event to be held on January 27 at the Westin Hotel in Times Square. The event brings the entertainment Industry together under one roof (anticipated attendance of 5,000 entertainment professionals). It is the only business-to-consumer event that targets this industry.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER for the ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY EXPO.
ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY EXPO
Sunday, January 27, 2008
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
The Westin Hotel, Times Square
THIS YEAR AT EIE:
• three rooms filled with great workshops/seminars all day
• three floors of exhibitors providing products/services for the entertainment industry
• "Designer's Showcase"--where designers showcase portfolios
• The first-ever Entertainment Industry Directory
• Job interviews with top entertainment production companies
• Auditions for blockbuster Broadway productions
• VIP networking cocktail reception with top-shelf open bar
• And more!