I, along with local Executive Director Brenda Ching, attended the Executive Committee and Committee of Locals (COL) meetings on Friday, Oct. 14. Local president David Farmer joined us at the COL and the National Board of Directors meetings on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 15 and 16, in a face-to-face plenary in Los Angeles.
At the National Board meeting, we voted unanimously to set a strike date against video game employers. Currently, we are striking the following video game employers: Activision Publishing Inc., Blindlight LLC, Corps of Discovery Films, Disney Character Voices Inc., Electronic Arts Productions Inc., Formosa Interactive LLC, Insomniac Games Inc., Interactive Associates Inc., Take 2 Interactive Software, VoiceWorks Productions Inc. and WB Games Inc. All games that went into production after Feb. 17, 2015, for the aforementioned employers are struck.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said, “Our members have been clear, now is the time for employers to negotiate a modern contract that covers this highly profitable industry.” National Executive Director David White said, “We have received a clear and unambiguous message from the community who work this agreement that the situation they face has become intolerable.
In another action, the National Board voted to extend White’s role as National Executive Director and authorized a new four-year contract in that capacity, expiring Oct. 11, 2020.
The board congratulated Carteris, chair of the union’s TV/Theatrical Wages & Working Conditions and Negotiating Committee, for being honored by Variety on its Power of Women Impact list.
At the Committee of Local’s meeting, the group recognized and honored Vice President, Small Locals David Hartley-Margolin with the Howard Keel Award, the highest honor given by the Committee of Locals.
The board approved the dedication of the Sylvia Kauders Recording Studio, used to self-record auditions, in the Philadelphia Local office and celebrated the opening of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s new screening room and educational space in New York City that was named the Robin Williams Center for Entertainment and Media in honor of the late actor-comedian.
President’s Report: Carteris provided a report highlighting SAG-AFTRA’s attendance at the recent International Federation of Actors World Congress in São Paulo, Brazil.
National Executive Director’s Report: White provided an update on union operations, including a report on core functions and priority initiatives. He reported on union organizing in broadcasting and other areas as well as updating the board on pension, health and retirement matters. He also updated members about the union’s development of new technology assets, including a smartphone app and a direct deposit pilot program for residuals.
White updated the board on KNBR 680/1050 in San Francisco, a sports radio station represented by SAG-AFTRA that recently voted overwhelmingly to ratify its first contract from parent company Cumulus Media. The new contract, which runs through the fall of 2019, includes minimum pay for each covered position, annual increases, vacation and holiday benefits and grievance and arbitration procedure. “Our members are organizing and mobilizing throughout the country to ensure that entertainment and media industry professionals have the protection of a SAG-AFTRA contract,” White said.
Joined by Chief Economist David Viviano, White reported on membership trends, earnings and claims resolved.
Finance Report: Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin and Chief Financial Officer Arianna Ozzanto reported on fiscal year 2017 first quarter results, which are on plan and tracking to budget.
Contracts Report: Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez announced dates for the TV/Theatrical Wages and Working Conditions process, which commenced Oct. 25 and concluded in mid-November.
The board also confirmed the appointment of the Uptown Contract Negotiations Team, which will be chaired by Hawaii native Clyde Kusatsu, vice president, Los Angeles.
Government Affairs and Public Policy: Chief Deputy General Counsel, Legal & Government Affairs Jeff Bennett presented an update on legislative and public policy initiatives including California’s implementation of AB 1687, the anti-age discrimination bill (also known as the “IMDB bill”) that was signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 24. To illustrate the importance of this bill to our members, Carteris shared with us that when she auditioned for Beverly Hills, 90210 she was 29 years old, auditioning to play a 19–year-old. There was no IMDB then. A producer later told her that, if they had known how old she was, she never would have been considered. Carteris personally phoned Gov. Brown to press for his signature on the bill. Looks like he listened. Well done, Gabby!