January 28, 2009
By Sam Freed
Effective Monday, the majority of the National Board asserted its authority and terminated the employment of our national executive director. Every National Board member of the New York Division Board approved this action. It was a difficult and considered decision to make, but it was done in recognition of the current circumstances of our negotiations.
Those circumstances are these: Seven months after its expiration, we have yet to reach a deal on our TV/Theatrical Contract. We continue to work under old terms and without the full protections of a contract. Since an offer was placed on the table on June 30, 2008, our members have lost a potential $51 million in minimum increases and $7.4 million in pension and health contributions. Screen Actors Guild has lost $900,000 in dues money. Our Basic Cable Contract that is directly related to the TV/Theatrical Contract has expired. Producers are shifting work away from our Guild because of uncertainty. A call for a strike authorization resulted in a very public split of opinion among both our rank-and-file and high-profile members, putting the success of that authorization in doubt.
To address these issues the National Board voted to appoint a new lead negotiator, Screen Actors Guild Senior Advisor John McGuire, who has successfully negotiated more than 30 contracts in his 40-year tenure at the Guild. The National Board also voted to replace the current TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee and create a task force that more accurately represents the new majority of the National Board. We will move swiftly and judiciously to conclude negotiations with this new dynamic in place and secure the best possible deal for the membership.
The National Board also voted to appoint David White as the Guild’s interim national executive director. David comes to this position with great experience, having been our former general counsel. He has extensive knowledge of our contracts and the interworking of the Guild. He is well known and respected in the labor community and entertainment industry. He will hit the ground running as he takes on this enormous responsibility during this momentous time. I have great confidence in David, having worked with him as a National Board member when he was formerly with the Guild.
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The Commercials Contract negotiations begin here in New York in about a month. John McGuire will serve as lead negotiator for these contracts, too. To prepare for these negotiations, we conducted an extensive Wages and Working Conditions process where members were invited to provide input. That input was provided at meetings in New York and across the country. I have great faith in our W&W Committee, whose members have devoted countless hours in order to prepare us to secure the best contract possible. We all owe them many thanks.
Significant to the success of these negotiations is the fact that SAG and AFTRA will be negotiating this contract jointly under the Phase One agreement. This is how these contracts have been negotiated since 1981. Our mutual cooperation is critical as we deal with the many challenges brought to this contract by the rapidly changing landscape of the advertising business.
I am encouraged by the changes that the National Board recently asserted. Changes of this magnitude may create uncertainty, but I believe that as they are implemented, they will facilitate our staff in furthering the interests of our membership. I am convinced that this new direction can bring results that will unite and strengthen us.
Members of the joint SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract Negotiating Committee will meet with the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) on February 23 in New York. The current contracts were extended from October 31, 2008, to March 31, 2009.
Information regarding the Commercials Contract negotiations can be found on SAG.org. Check your e-mail and mailboxes for updates.
So many union members still are not taking advantage of the great (and absolutely free) opportunities being offered by the SAG Foundation.
Acting is a craft that requires constant practice. The minute you think you know it all is the minute your career starts evaporating! Taking workshops and attending seminars should be a regular part of your strategy to becoming a success.
The foundation’s New York Casting Access Project offers cold-reading workshops conducted by well-known casting directors. The sessions are intimate—limited to no more than 22 actors per session—and you get to ask questions about the casting process as well as read with/for the casting director in attendance.
To participate, you first must complete an orientation session conducted online at the SAG Foundation's website and by mail. To receive more information, simply add your e-mail address to the foundation’s newsletter at the link provided below. The NYCAP registration period began January 26 and ends this week. It’s that simple!
What: Member Outreach, Relations and Education (MORE) New Member Orientation
When: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5 p.m., no admittance after 6 p.m.), February 24
Where: SAG Boardroom, 360 Madison Ave. (Entrance on East 45th Street)
If you’ve recently joined SAG or have not yet been able to attend a New Member Orientation, join us to learn all about the Guild and what it can do for you. Reservations are required. To make a reservation, call (212) 252-4SAG (4724), box 1. You must bring your current SAG card and a photo I.D. to be admitted.
Did you know you can find background casting notices and the monthly production schedule on the New York Division’s web page?
Casting notices for background work in feature films and television series are posted and updated daily. The production schedule is updated at the beginning of each month and every Wednesday evening.
To access the casting notices and production schedule: