SAG-AFTRA has been and remains ready to finalize the development of a waiver that will help AEA members survive the shutdown while preserving SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction.
We write to make you aware of an emerging issue between SAG-AFTRA and our sister union, Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). As you know, SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction is very clear. We cover recorded and broadcast media in all their forms. That means movies, television, new media, commercials, radio, music and sound recordings, and digital content, whether recorded or delivered live. In essence, all live media or recorded media falls under our historical and traditional jurisdiction. Recently, however, certain AEA leaders have become surprisingly “uncertain” about SAG-AFTRA’s traditional jurisdiction. This asserted “uncertainty” has presented a serious challenge to our ability to provide broad waivers to support the members of AEA.
SAG-AFTRA has for decades covered recorded or live broadcast presentations including Broadway shows (e.g., Hamilton, Diana, and Jesus Christ Superstar); televised special events (e.g., the annual Tony Awards and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade); morning shows (e.g., The Today Show and Live with Kelly & Ryan); late night shows (e.g., The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel Live!) and a host of other live theater productions and other live programs.
Because of the pandemic and recognizing the challenges it has brought to all of us in the creative arts, we are particularly mindful of the needs of our sister unions in the live theater sector. SAG-AFTRA has offered to allow AEA to cover recorded and broadcast live theater productions that are squarely within SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction under AEA contracts pursuant to the terms of a written waiver in order to create more work opportunities for AEA members. That waiver contains a very clear statement of our jurisdiction. Regrettably, AEA has not agreed to the waiver. Furthermore, our discussions with AEA’s leadership about these waivers have surfaced very real concerns on the part of their leadership over the long-term viability of the live theater business model. In these conversations, it has become clear that, in several specific instances, AEA may have attempted to extend their presence into our jurisdiction and believes that extending into SAG-AFTRA jurisdiction may be strategically advantageous to AEA in the future.
This is a time to come together and do what we can to help each other. By being flexible and nimble, we can help AEA make it through this truly dark time for live theater. We cannot do that without the cooperation of AEA, and cannot agree to take actions that jeopardize our jurisdiction long-term.
As there is a great deal of misinformation beginning to circulate about this issue, we want to be very clear: SAG-AFTRA has been and remains ready to finalize the development of this waiver that will help AEA members survive the shutdown while preserving SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction. In order to assure there is no misunderstanding about this waiver, we are making the full text of the proposed waiver available to our membership at this link.
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director