Additional Resources Will Strengthen Overall Financial Health, Fund Key Initiatives and Boost Bargaining Clout for 2008 Negotiations
Los Angeles (October 22, 2006) --- The national board of Screen Actors Guild voted by a 98-percent margin today to seek member approval of a dues increase that would strengthen the union's overall fiscal health, enhance member services like residuals check processing, bolster such initiatives as organizing and a new tech department, and finance research and contract campaigns heading into the critical TV/Theatrical and Commercials Contract negotiations of 2008.
If accepted, base dues for SAG membership would increase from $100 to $116 per year, while the Guild's initiation fee would rise from $1,474 to $2,211. A dues increase would represent the first hike since 1999-and only the second increase in 19 years.
SAG President Alan Rosenberg and Secretary-Treasurer Connie Stevens said in a joint statement: "Our biggest responsibility as caretakers of this great union is making sure it remains healthy and strong. This increase will put us in the best possible position heading into the TV/Theatrical and Commercials Contract negotiations of 2008 by financing research and building up reserves, thrusting the Guild into a prosperous new era. Added resources will also enable us to increase organizing efforts across the country, enhance member services, and build a new tech department that will let us thrive in this rapidly changing world."
Actors earning less than $200,000 would still pay 1.85% of earnings, and members who make between $200,001-$500,000 would still pay .5% of earnings more than $200,000. The Guild would raise its earnings cap-income subject to dues-from $500,000 to $1 million. Actors earning between $500,001 to $1 million would now pay .25% of those earnings.
If approved by members, the increase would also enable the Guild to hire more staff, enhance its internal computer systems and Web site capabilities, and build reserves heading into 2008.
Ballots will go out to members in January, with a due date 30 days later. The new dues structure would go into effect starting with the May 2007 dues period, while initiation fees would increase upon ratification.
"This crucial dues increase would provide Screen Actors Guild the necessary resources to carry out important work on behalf of its members," said interim National Executive Director Peter Frank. "This includes hiring needed staff to work in the growing areas of contracts, organizing and a new tech department, while streamlining member services like residuals processing. Beyond giving us overall fiscal health, these funds would allow us to properly prepare for the upcoming 2008 negotiations."
In other news from the national board plenary in Los Angeles:
·The board voted by a 90-percent margin to join an AFL-CIO Industry Coordinating Committee (ICC), which formally links 10 like-minded unions from the Arts, Entertainment and Media Industries in order to harness and apply their collective economic and political strength to the overall benefit of performers and workers.
"At a time when the labor movement is looking for new and inventive ways to expand its clout, joining this ICC provides us with large-scale organizing like we've never had before," Rosenberg said. "We will now combine resources and coordinate strategy tactics to maximize our collective bargaining power. However, while we enter this experiment with high expectations, my fellow board members are adamant that Screen Actors Guild retain its own voice and autonomy within the ICC and how it operates."
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka gave a one-hour presentation to the board and explained why Screen Actors Guild's membership in this particular ICC, which includes such unions as Actors' Equity Association, AFTRA, the American Federation of Musicians, IATSE, and Writers Guild of America East, was critical to its success. He also called the ICC "an amplification of power" because it marshals many unions' resources and coordinates strategic efforts. The Guild's membership in this ICC will sunset in two years-although the Guild has the option to withdraw at any time.
·The Guild board voted to support the Film and Television Action Committee (FTAC) and its effort to curtail runaway production by allocating $50,000 to the Stewart & Stewart law firm and its initial filing of a 301(a) petition regarding Canada that the board originally supported a year ago. The motion passed at the October 2005 national board meeting read:
"That the National Board support the Film and Television Action Committee (FTAC) and its 301(a) petition by adding Screen Actors Guild to the list of names of unions and cities who have already given their support of both FTAC and its 301(a) petition, which asks that the U.S. trade representatives investigate the Canadian subsidies for a possible violation of the trade agreements Canada already signed with the U.S."
Rosenberg and Stevens said: "Over the years, Screen Actors Guild has fought runaway production by creating federal and state tax incentives throughout the United States. By supporting a 301(a) filing, the Guild is taking yet another step towards keeping actors' jobs here in the United States."