San Diego 2009:04

San Diego 2009:04

April 7, 2009

BRANCH PRESIDENT’S REPORT

By Don Ahles
San Diego Branch President

Greetings to all San Diego Screen Actors Guild members,

I hope this year finds everyone happy and healthy. I know it’s hard to stay optimistic when everything you hear lately is doom and gloom. Seems just as some positive news appears, some new conflict is discovered, crushing any signs of relief. May I remind you we are actors! We’re used to dealing with all types of adversity and rejection. Still, we pursue our craft with the hope of someone else noticing, and liking. How many times have we auditioned and waited for our agent to call with news...only to find out that sweet part went to someone else? But, we press on and try again next time. They say, “When one door closes, another opens.” Having trouble finding the key to that door? We keep searching, it’s our nature.

On the positive front, we have tentatively secured the new Commercials Contract. The proposed agreement must be approved by the joint SAG/AFTRA boards and then ratified by the membership, so stay tuned for further news. As of this writing, we still do not have a new Television and Theatrical contract. Our fight has been for a fair contract to protect the livelihood and future of all actors in this union. I trust our National Board will continue to do their very best to serve all of us in securing a contract.

We have a new council member. Longtime SAG member Leticia Cannon was appointed to replace council member Chris Bricker. Chris left the San Diego area for a position in Central California. We thank him for his service to our local council and membership.

Our May general membership meeting is just around the corner. Regardless of the climate, our meeting always proves to bring an evening of camaraderie, fun and information. Please plan to attend and meet our new Branch executive director, Steven Clinton. Keep a lookout for more details as a date is made available.

Take care, I look forward to seeing all of you very soon.

BRANCH EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

By Steve Clinton
An update on film incentives:

The California entertainment community made a giant stride forward recently when the governor signed into law a tax credits incentive for film and television productions as part of a California economic stimulus bill. The artistes’ guilds have been fighting for California incentives ever since much of the United States’ film production began moving to foreign soil and other states offering incentives. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Directors Guild of America, Motion Picture Association of America and Screen Actors Guild released the following statement upon the measure’s signing:

“For the past 10 years, a united entertainment community has been telling state officials that our industry is threatened by runaway film and television production. Film and television productions have been leaving California for tax incentives in other states and countries for years now, and like everybody else, entertainment industry workers are suffering in this economic climate. We applaud the passage of this incentive, which will help make California competitive and not only save the jobs that are being lost but generate much-needed revenue for the state.”

Along with the homegrown incentives the city of San Diego provides, such as free city services for film production, this development offers the potential for production to return to San Diego.

They’ll be Missed

National Board Member Virginia Hawkins and Council Member Chris Bricker have resigned their seats on the San Diego Council. Virginia’s acting career spans more than four decades, and she has served our Branch for many years with quiet dignity, class and a ferocity for justice and equity as she stood up for her fellow actors. Preparations are under way to honor Virginia’s service to us at the May membership meeting. Chris Bricker also has served this community well and his hard work and ethics will be missed. Chris was forced to move to Central California for work; he now has a position representing his brothers and sisters in SEIU. I know I speak for everyone in the San Diego Branch when I wish both of these fine people the best and a continued bright future.

A replacement for Sister Hawkins to fill out the term is under consideration by the council at this time. Sister Leticia Cannon was appointed to replace Chris Bricker to end his term of office during the last Branch council meeting on March 26, 2009.

San Diego Elections and Dues


The next dues period is just around the corner. If you are not an active, paid-up member in good standing, you may not be able to vote in Guild elections or contract referenda or be eligible to serve on the council or committees. You also must be paid to date to register on iActor, the Guild’s online casting program, which is now being used by casting directors nationwide. If you have any questions regarding your dues, please contact the Cashiers Department at (800) SAG-0767, option 2, or (323) 549-6752.

Employee Free Choice Act


There is not a more important issue facing California’s working families than the Employee Free Choice Act. For many years, the right of workers to earn a middle-class living for their families has been under attack. Job loss and outsourcing, low wages, foreclosures and loss of pensions and affordable health care have decimated our communities, rendered marriages and destroyed our confidence in our way of life.

After World War II, there were three pillars the American middle class was built upon: The Social Security Act, which allowed our parents to be independent as they aged; the GI Bill, which allowed working-class veterans to buy a house and go to college; and the American labor movement, which gave workers a collective voice to demand a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. Ever since this renaissance period in human history where labor was as valued as capital, the U.S. public school system was the best in the world and Social Security insurance was proven to work, these three pillars have been under attack by ultraconservative forces that do not think working people deserve a share of the American pie.

Even though it is against the law, thousands upon thousands of workers who tried to organize their workplaces have been fired for trying to seek justice. New York University School of Law Professor Cynthia L. Estlund testified to this to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on March 27, 2007:

"…So when workers are told that the employer strongly opposes unionization, what many are bound to hear is that union supporters will be deemed traitors and dealt with accordingly, or that the employer will move or shut down its operations to avoid dealing with a union. Many employers faced with an organizing effort explicitly threaten job loss. About half of employers faced with a union organizing campaign threaten to close or relocate all or part of their business in the event of a union victory. Employees fear job loss even without any explicit threats. A commission headed by John Dunlop, former Secretary of Labor under President Ford, reported that 40 percent of non-union, non-managerial employees believed that their own employer would fire or otherwise mistreat them if they campaigned for a union. Unfortunately, those beliefs are not unfounded. Studies have found that between 25 and 30 percent of employers faced with an organizing drive fired at least one union activist. A recent study using rather conservative assumptions and methods estimated that about one in five active union supporters was discriminatorily fired during organizing campaigns in 2005…"

The Employee Free Choice Act will even the playing field for those workers who want to join together to bargain collectively for their rights and a fair and decent living by allowing the simple use of a majority card-check system. This system allows a union to gain collective bargaining recognition as soon as a majority of the workers signs an authorization card. If the company refuses to bargain with the workers’ union after recognition and within 130 days of certification, then a government arbitration panel can impose an initial two-year agreement. Liars on the conservative side claim this would take the right of the secret ballot away from the workers, but in reality there is no secret ballot in the certification process already. The current National Labor Relations Act statute requires 30 percent of the workers to sign a card now just to hold a certification election. Once this 30 percent signs the cards, management knows who signed the cards and then begins the bullying, intimidation and firings of those who want to fight for their rights. All the Employee Free Choice Act does is remove the period of time where a company can get rid of employees who will stand up for themselves and their families and allows the workers to bargain for a contract that will allow them to make a living that will support a family. If we don’t address the inequities in the present system, it is fair to assume we will go back to that time early in the last century where we were just disposable cogs in the machine that lived solely to enthrall some robber baron.

I strongly urge every member of the San Diego Branch to contact your local, state and federal representatives and tell them you, your family and your community need the Employee Free Choice Act to get the United States back on the right path.

CONSERVATORY REPORT

By Lorenzo Rodriguez
Conservatory Chair

First, I would like to thank all of the instructors, the San Diego Branch Council, Regional Branch Division Executive Director Linda Dowell and San Diego Branch Executive Director Steve Clinton for helping to provide the first-class conservatory we enjoy here in San Diego. We had a full house for the RSVP On-Camera workshop we held in February, and executive Clinton received very positive feedback about both the February and March conservatories from some of the participants.

In April we will enjoy two more conservatories. On April 22, we will do another RSVP Film Conservatory for the first 15 SAG members who contact our exec at steven.clinton@sag.org. On April 28, renowned actor and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee David Proval (you might best remember his principal role as the psychopathic gangster on the Sopranos) will be doing an acting workshop. Participants will be performing cold readings and will be critiqued and coached by Mr. Proval, who has acted since 1973 (Mean Streets) and has worked with Robert DeNiro and Denzel Washington and has been directed by such esteemed artists as Martin Scorsese and Frank Darabont. Brother Proval will be using the Sanford Meisner approach in his instruction. Both of the April classes will be held at the Musicians Association of San Diego County, 1717 Morena Boulevard, San Diego (92110) from 7:30–10 p.m. Check the SAG San Diego Hot Line for more information at (619) 744-8900.

Finally, I just want to take a moment to thank all of the actors who have participated in the San Diego Conservatory—it is all of you who make it the success it is. I look forward to working with all of you in the future.

HOLLYWOOD CONNECTION

By Selena Parker
Oscar night had a San Diego connection! I was invited to an Oscar party at the Conga Room across from the Staples Center. Celebrities Jimmy Smits and Esai Morales were in attendance at the benefit event hosted by the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts.

The Latino Film Festival was a success once again this year. Many celebs, producers and actors came to San Diego for the event! The Jewish Film Festival featured Meg Ryan in one of its films.

Jane Seymour came here recently to help a local charity and to promote her art collection in La Jolla.

The spy thriller Duplicity, featuring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, filmed in San Diego and featured our beautiful downtown and Convention Center.

Many stars of TV and film already are making plans to come to the Comic Con this summer. It is held every year at the Convention Center.

Rita Moreno has been in San Diego recently for a benefit event.

Raquel Welch is promoting her sunglass collection in San Diego. She has roots here and went to school in the area.

George Lopez comes to town often and is starting his own talk show.

L.A. Fashion: Short skirts are seen in town for evening and day wear.

Send any interesting items about celebs and events to me in care of steven.clinton@sag.org.

KEEP YOUR INFORMATION UP TO DATE

iActor can only be as good as your profile allows. Casting directors are continually frustrated with the fact that contact information is missing from many of the members’ listings. You cannot be called for a job if you cannot be contacted.

Please update your iActor profile and add current contact information. Don’t deny yourself work because you cannot be located. And make sure SAG membership has your current address, phone number and e-mail address.

Questions regarding iActor? Click here to find out more. You also may ask for assistance at (323) 549-6451 or info@iactor.org.

SEARCH ENGINE BENEFITS SAG FOUNDATION

GoodSearch.com is a new search engine that donates half its revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities its users designate. You use it just as you would any search engine, and it's powered by Yahoo!, so you get great results.

Just go to GoodSearch.com and be sure to enter the Screen Actors Guild Foundation as the charity you want to support.

SAG SHOPPING AT thesagshop.com

Visit thesagshop.com for the latest in must-have, union-made merchandise. Buy gifts and accessories that demonstrate your good taste and your union pride.

A MESSAGE FROM THE SAG FOUNDATION

Since 1985, the Screen Actors Guild Foundation has embraced its mission to assist, educate and inspire actors to their fullest career potential and to give back to the communities in which they live. While we are not a part of Screen Actors Guild, we are dedicated to serving its members.

From the Board of Directors to staff to volunteers, the foundation’s diverse makeup is a large component of this non-profit 501(c)(3) organization’s success. Governed independently of the Guild, the non-political, non-partisan foundation is a collective body bringing different personalities, attitudes and opinions together in service of actors who, like us, come from all walks of life.

Chances are good that we’ve already helped you, or someone you know, with financial assistance in a time of crisis, scholarship monies, efforts we make toward children’s literacy, time spent in the Actors Center (the only resource center of its kind in Los Angeles), or seminars, workshops and other career-informing events. In any case, please visit our website at www.sagfoundation.org to find out more about us.

Our work is rewarding, but not easy. Our programs and benefits are supported not by your Guild membership dues or fees but by grants, donations and our own fund-raising efforts. Resources are limited, and times have been exceptionally hard. Our Emergency Assistance program, overtaxed by such economic blows as the recent Writers Guild strike, which put countless actors out of work, has far exceeded its budget, and the livelihood of the foundation as a whole is in delicate balance.

It takes an actor to understand an actor’s struggle. Most of us at the foundation are actors, and by learning more about the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, we hope you will gain a greater understanding of our work and what it takes to keep us going. Your tax-deductible donation can make a huge difference in the life of a fellow actor. You can donate online whenever you wish, make automatic monthly donations, or send us a check made payable to Screen Actors Guild Foundation. Please also consider signing over your residual checks, no matter what their size, which might benefit your peers by coming to the foundation as a charitable contribution.

Meanwhile, we also encourage you, as a SAG member, to think about the services we make available in support of your own career. Knowing, understanding and giving to the SAG Foundation is an investment not just in the foundation’s livelihood, but in yours.

Screen Actors Guild Foundation

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 124
Los Angeles, CA 90036
phone: (323) 549-6708
fax: (323) 549-6710

CHECK YOUR BACK SIDE: ACT AS ONE

Check the back side of your Screen Actors Guild membership card, and you’ll see the most important rule by which SAG members must abide. Rule One states that no member shall work for or agree to work for a producer who is not signatory to the appropriate SAG agreement. As of January 1, 2009, Rule One is being vigorously enforced in new media.

New media means the Internet, cell phones, PDAs and any other technology that may be invented in the future. That means every time you work on a project intended for new media, you need to be covered by a union contract. Being covered by a SAG contract right from the start is a good thing because in new media, you never know where you’ll find an audience or how successful a project may become.

We can provide more information and answer your specific questions at organizingnewmedia@sag.org or (323) 549-6777.

The 2002 worldwide expansion of Rule One, now known as Global Rule One, produced nearly $500 million in SAG member earnings and $23 million in contributions to SAG pension and health funds. When actors stick together, we all win. Setting standards in new media will be challenging and only can be accomplished with member solidarity.

SAG TV

Have you checked out the latest SAG videos? Go to the SAG.org home page, where you can learn about setting up your iActor profile and how to become a SAG signatory as well as watch video from LGBT events. Click on SAG TV in the navigation bar for even more informational videos.

SAG TV is just one of the new beneficial features of the constantly improving SAG.org.

QUESTIONS

If you have questions or comments about this publication, contact Branch Executive Director Steve Clinton at steven.clinton@sag.org or (800) 724-0767, option 7.



For address changes, removals, and misdeliveries, please follow the procedures at:
http://www.sag.org/Content/Public/Email_OptOut.htm