Eric Wydra

Greetings SAG-AFTRA Michigan and Windsor Members!

I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. I know it goes without saying that none of us ever could have imagined the situation we currently find ourselves experiencing with COVID-19. We are also experiencing it in different ways depending on what we do. Actors and performers, for the most part, are unable to work due to the industrywide shutdown. Broadcasters are busier than ever and are facing the challenge of doing their job either remotely from home or in the field, trying to stay safe during a global pandemic. Voiceover artists and audiobooks narrators who have home studios are able to continue to audition and produce content from home. More recently, events around the country have highlighted racial discrimination resulting in the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others. SAG-AFTRA issued a statement that read in part, “We must speak up in the face of injustice and fight back against the indignities our fellow citizens face every day. We must be defenders and allies. We must be better than this.” I couldn’t agree more.

I want to give a huge THANK YOU to our TV and radio broadcast members who are on the frontlines daily in order to keep us all educated, help us stay safe, inform us, and also entertain us. I appreciate everything you all have done since this started and that you all continue to do. We are so lucky to have such strong broadcast units in the Michigan Local and lucky to have the dedicated shop stewards that we do: Amy Lange at Fox2; Patty Handysides at CKLW, representing our Bell Media members; and Karen Trombley and Vickie Thomas at WWJ.

Knowing that money is tight for many of us, members experiencing COVID-19-related financial hardship can request a due-date extension and an installment plan for the May 2020 dues period. If you are able to pay, we are encouraging you to pay the entire year of dues now to allow the critical services of the union, such as residuals processing and contract negotiation and enforcement, to continue without disruption. If you need more time, please file for a due-date extension and an installment plan by June 9. No late fees will be assessed for the May dues period and there will be no adverse impact on members’ work eligibility during this time. Apply online or check the box on the back of your paper dues statement and send it in to request the extension. Requests for a COVID-19 financial hardship extension must be received on or before June 9, 2020. Please note that if your May dues payment is not received by June 9, 2020, and you have not made a timely request for a due date extension or your payments are not in compliance with the COVID-19 Dues Relief Extension program, your eligibility to run for office will be affected. Failure to pay dues in accordance with the COVID-19 Dues Relief Extension program may also affect your ability to vote, nominate and participate in referenda. For questions regarding eligibility, please contact SAG-AFTRA at (323) 549-6676.

Prior to quarantine, your Michigan Local has been very active working on your behalf. Some of the activities are described in detail on the website. Highlights include planning a voiceover seminar geared towards broadcasters and another geared towards actors; efforts to restore Film Incentives in the State of Michigan; engaging with AdCraft Detroit to get the word out to local advertisers that it is easy to use SAG-AFTRA talent in their commercials; and re-activating various committees committed to serving the Michigan Local membership.

Even though the union is in a period of resource conservation, our local continues to hold regular board meetings to discuss essential business. Staff in Chicago have been reaching out to our local agencies to keep them informed. We were able to write an article for a recent e-blast sent out to AdCraft Detroit members, informing the advertising community that we have both national and regional contracts that are easy to use and reminding them that many of our members have home recording studio setups that allow them to audition and record commercials from home.

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is offering programming and remote sessions with casting directors. The SAG-AFTRA website has resources available to you in this challenging time. Staff in L.A. have been working daily since this began to process residuals to get performers money when it is needed most. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to sign up for direct deposit to get the money in your account versus having a check mailed to you. Keep checking your email for information on upcoming seminars and webinars sponsored by the President’s Task Force on Education, Outreach and Engagement.

We are here working very hard on your behalf now and we will be here when the world reopens and we adjust to the new normal in our industry. Things have changed, but one thing remains the same: SAG-AFTRA is here to protect us in good times and in bad.

I’m thankful for the Michigan Local Board members that I have the pleasure to serve with. They are a dedicated and passionate group and volunteer their time to improve life for all of us in the world of performing arts and broadcast.

The pandemic resulted in us having to cancel our April membership meeting, but I look forward to being able to gather safely in person with all of you at some point in the future.

We are SAG-AFTRA, and I’m proud to be part of an organization shining a light on society and hopefully inspiring our members and the public at large to do better and to be better!

If you need anything, please feel free to reach out to me at

Stay safe and stay healthy.

In solidarity,

Eric Wydra
Michigan Local President


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