Twin Cities 2014:05

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The Official E-Newsletter of the Twin Cities Local
The Official E-Newsletter of the Twin Cities Local
May 2014

TWIN CITIES LOCAL BOARD 2013-2015

You may contact board members via email.

President: Bob Davis (click here to contact Bob)
First Vice President: Peter Moore
Second Vice President: Barry ZeVan
Third Vice President: Leigha Horton
Secretary: Mark Bradley

Randal Berger (National Board member)
Mark Benninghofen
Charles Brin
Elena Giannetti
Tracey Maloney
Peggy O’Connell
Shelli Place
Michael Tezla
Shirley Venard

Twin Cities News and Views Editor: 
Mary Em Burns

WHERE & HOW TO GET SUPPORT WHEN YOU NEED IT

Even though we no longer have a local office in the Twin Cities, help is always available and easy to access by phone (312.573.8081 or 800.724.0767) or by email to specific staff members as listed below:

Agency:
Contact Kathy Byrne

Commercials or Co/Ed:
Contact Jamie Marchi

Dancers:
Contact Jolene Jones

Interactive or New Media:
Contact Sean Hennessy

Infomercials:
Contact Jamie Marchi
or Kathy Byrne

Membership:
Contact Kathy Nelson

Music Videos, Singers
or Sound Recordings:
Contact Jolene Jones

News and Broadcast:
Contact Paula Weinbaum
or Eric Chaudron

Residuals, Film/TV:
Contact Residuals Department

Short and Student Films:
Contact Kathy Byrne

Stunt and Safety:
Contact Kathy Byrne

Television, Dramatic and Non-Dramatic:
Contact Kathy Byrne

Theatrical:
Contact Kathy Byrne

For other inquires, contact Colleen Aho, 651.789.8990 or by email or visit the SAG-AFTRA website.

TWIN CITIES LOCAL FILM & TV PRODUCTION NEWS

Kathy Byrne, SAG-AFTRA Chicago local director of TV/Theatrical, reports that the following film projects (student, shorts and features) have shot in Minnesota since Jan. 1, 2014:

Fear of Girls 4

Strangers

The Carrot Cake

A Prequel to Neighborhoods

Talking Points

A Reader

One Man’s Trash

The Man with the Briefcase

Shadow Boxing

The Public Domain

Inheritance

His Neighbor Phil

... and coming soon: Heart of Wilderness

A DAY IN THE LIFE: 
REQUEST FOR SUBMISSIONS

Since our new merged union includes many types of members, and so many of us don’t know much about the work of some of our fellow SAG-AFTRA members, we hope to include in every issue of this newsletter going forward short stories submitted by you the members about jobs you currently have or contract jobs you have been on recently, about auditions or job interviews, or in general about your union-related work and experiences in and out of the Twin Cities or, as we plan to title it, “a Day in [Your] Life.” Please submit your brief story (400 words or less) by email and reference “Day in the Life Story” in the subject line. Please include your full name and contact information with your submission. Submissions for the next newsletter are due by July 25, 2014.

Note: The editors reserve the right to make the final decision on whether or not to include your submission and also reserve the right to edit the piece if necessary.

 

A Message to Local Members

By National Board member Randal Berger

Randal Berger

I recently attended a national board meeting in L.A. and I would say this meeting was even more productive than the previous meetings. We are getting into the flow of things, as they say. Let me touch on some items of interest.

State of the Union

While the beginning of any major change — such as merging SAG and AFTRA — has its share of challenges, after hearing staff reports at this last meeting, I feel confident we are progressing strongly in the right direction, both financially and structurally. I don’t say this for us to feel like we can coast, but rather to give us hope that our efforts are not all for naught.

TV/Theatrical Negotiations

We have several contract negotiations upcoming. TV/Theatrical negotiations are now underway, after active preparation in recent months by the union. Some of you may have been involved in the recent wages and working conditions (W&W) process, with meetings held in locals across the country. I participated in the meetings in Chicago, and it was very enlightening — I suggest trying it sometime. This national W&W process is used to gather member feedback and proposals, and ultimately shape the proposal packages for upcoming negotiations. This process gives those on the negotiating committee (the union negotiating team consists of both staff and members appointed to the negotiating committee) insight into areas of the contract that members would like to see addressed. It basically sets the standards, goals and tone for the various contract negotiations — the W&W process is really a cornerstone of the union. It is a direct way we have impact on the business of our career. There was an immense amount of information gathered through this TV/Theatrical W&W process and it was quite a challenge for the W&W plenary to distill it into a platform for negotiations, but they did. While every aspect couldn’t be addressed, they did quite an impressive job and I feel we are well positioned.

Residuals Processing

The process of handling residuals is a gargantuan task for the union. I don’t remember the exact number, but there are hundreds of thousands of checks that flow into the union to be distributed each year. Currently, this is all through paper checks, as there are so many employers, each with a unique method of payment, and there is little incentive for them to convert into an electronic format. Therefore, each check has to be processed by hand. One of the major accomplishments in the past year has been to eliminate backlog and move to timely processing of these residual checks. Through an amazing amount of effort on the part of staff, directed by Executive Director David White and headed by Chief Information Officer Daniel Inukai and his staff, we are now down to less than 30 days for residual processing, a truly reasonable timeframe. Even better, this timeframe is expected to be sustainable.

SAG Pension & Health and AFTRA Health & Retirement Plans

Recent reports warn that some unions’ pension/health plans are in jeopardy or in weak positions. Fortunately, our two plans (SAG and AFTRA — remember they had to remain separate through the merger) are in strong positions. These plans are graded on a color system, and ours are in what is called the “Green Zone,” and as it sounds, that is good. There are certainly still areas on which the trustees of the pension and health plans have to work, but overall we are healthy.

Locals Administrative Staff

While we all know that many local offices were closed last year — which was done in part to help streamline efficiency and as a change in vision of how the union could function — we have the luxury in the Twin Cities of having our previous local executive director, Colleen Aho, assigned to the Local Administrative Staff. Colleen’s role in the LAS is to provide certain administrative services to both our local and to the San Diego Local, along with other duties related to all locals. Nationally, the LAS team consists of three people — Colleen, Julie Crane and Marcia Fishman — and is overseen by Linda Dowell (assistant national executive director, locals) and Mathis Dunn (associate national executive director). LAS provides support to the non-staffed locals in various ways, including:

• Governance support, including local board and membership meetings, elections, committees and convention;
• Communications support, including e-blasts, newsletters, articles for the national magazine, special projects and specific communications;
• Local budget and finances support; and
• Point of contact (locally to labor, industry, etc.) and liaison to membership, contracts, organizing and agency staff.

While their roles are not completely defined (we are still discovering ways in which we all work together, post restructuring) they enhance the relationships between all locals, helping to unify the functioning of our union. Colleen does not perform the same functions she did previously as a local executive director. However, she remains based in the Twin Cities and has the unique perspective of knowing this market inside and out, having served here for more than 20 years.

Remember to contact Chicago staff (see contact list in this newsletter) for your membership, contract or agency questions.

Corporate/Educational Non-Broadcast Contract

Nationally, a number of locals are working on waivers, i.e. local proposals to refine or change certain aspects of the Corporate/Educational Non-Broadcast Contract. The Co-Ed Contract is up for renewal next year. We have an active and committed committee in the Twin Cities Local that is working on a waiver proposal, focused on changes that make sense for the Twin Cities market. If you want to be involved, or have suggestions or comments, send them to twincities@sagaftra.org.

Communication Sub-Group

Well, as I have mentioned many times in the past, in my opinion communication within the union is necessary for its continued vitality. Apparently I spoke too much, and consequently was made chair of a sub-group to define ways to improve communication between board members, committees, staff and members across the country, with a goal of exploring methods to securely, efficiently and economically address these issues. I note this, so that if anyone has ideas (even details of how they feel “out of the loop”), I would really appreciate the insight. If you feel you have even more to say, the committee is going to meet a time or two before the next national board meeting this summer, and I could use some member involvement and input. It would be an easy way for you to begin to give some of yourself and your expertise to your friends and colleagues. As you know, getting more involved in your career gives you “juice” to power on and make opportunities for yourself. While I welcome members who are comfortable with technology, I also want to hear from those who can develop ideas about communicating with members who are not tech savvy or who don’t have ready access to technology. Please let me know your interest as soon as you can, as I would like to start meeting right away.

Finally, while I will not go into more detail here, there are several other contract negotiations in the works. If you are interested in hearing about those or if you have any other union questions, thoughts or ideas, it’s easy to jot some thoughts down; please let me hear from you at twincities@sagaftra.org

Cheerio,

Randal