FROM THE CORNER OFFICE
By Randy Himes
Assistant National Executive Director, Sound Recordings & Executive Director, Nashville Local
As we round the corner into 2014, I wonder what happened to 2013. Seems like most of that year was a blur. We’ve now been merged almost two years, and members and staff are settling in to the groove of our new family. We’ve had elections, convention, adjusted budgets and we continue to work out the “kinks,” all while your elected leadership and staff work at a frenzied pace to deliver services to members in this new union.
Currently, we are preparing for negotiations for a new SAG-AFTRA Sound Recordings Code. We made some significant gains in the last negotiations related to the collection of digital download monies for our studio session singers. Nashville continues to lead the nation in the number of sessions processed through the union, and Nashville singers receive a significant share of monies distributed under this contract provision.
We will have meetings in Nashville, Los Angeles, New York and other production centers to create proposals for our negotiations. Currently, the anticipated start date for the first negotiation is late April.
Just a reminder of all the custom SAG-AFTRA contracts available to members to get your work protected and to receive health and retirement contributions to your account:
Nashville Songwriter Agreement: This agreement enables songwriters to receive health and retirement benefits from compensation paid under their publishing agreement. This agreement has covered hundreds of songwriters and many publishers have signed or are signed to this agreement.
SAG-AFTRA Touring Agreement: This agreement protects and provides benefits to singers and dancers who tour with our recording artist members. This agreement makes all tour compensation SAG-AFTRA compensation so that singers and dancers receive valuable health and pension benefits. The agreement also protects tapings and televised performances from the tour. In late 2013, Justin Timberlake stepped up and signed the Experience 20/20 Tour to this agreement. Read about it here.
SAG-AFTRA Independent Artist Label Letter Agreement: This agreement is custom made for our independent artists. All sources of income (touring, merchandise, licensing, physical/digital and publishing) are all SAG-AFTRA-covered earnings. Having such a broad scope of related covered earnings means that independent artists can continue to maintain health benefits while they work as independent artists.
Nashville Publisher Demo Agreement: This agreement is now in its third decade of providing a source of employment and income for so many singers who perform on songwriter/publisher demos. There are actually more demo sessions than master sessions under the SAG-AFTRA Sound Recordings Code.
SAG-AFTRA is not some other people in a far off place, or a building or staff on Music Row. SAG-AFTRA is you, along with 165,000 professional members who are working together to make life as a performer or broadcast professional a paying and rewarding career and not a non-compensating hobby.
Here’s to a safe and successful 2014! Let us know how we can be of service to you.
The Union Label
By Pat Alger
SAG-AFTRA Nashville Local President
There was a time in this country when buying American goods meant seeing a small label acknowledging that employees represented by a union had manufactured the item. That label was there to remind us that people in this country took pride in their labor and that workers were treated fairly.
When my father worked at J.C. Penney & Co. in New York in the early 1950s, he belonged to the Retail Clerks Union, Local 1500, and wore a small pin on his shirt collar identifying him as a union member. He thought enough of the pin that it was among the small number of effects he left me after he passed.
Here in a so-called “right-to–work” state like Tennessee, sometimes being a union member can be challenging. The word has a negative connotation for a lot people (most of them have never been union members, I have noticed) and some of them are my friends. I don’t try to sell the benefits of the union — I just have to tell them of all of the things that the union has done for me: My first gig under a union contract paid residuals for the first six months of my son’s life, making it possible for his mom and I to get our feet on the ground. Union insurance paid for his birth, even though the pregancy was a “preexisting condition." I could list a dozen other examples of the union being there for me, including the pension check that gets deposited in my bank account each month.
Recently, I’ve read a few non-union contracts some local actors have been asked to sign. As president of our local, I’ve encouraged these young performers to push back on these all-encompassing “no-frills” deals and consider joining the union as the best and most viable choice for their workplace representation. I just happen to believe that the best work still carries the union label. As Nashville becomes more and more of a production destination, it will be up to all of us to represent the union label as the good deal it is.
My daddy and I didn’t agree on much, but we wore our union membership proudly. I am proud to be a member of this fine SAG-AFTRA local. We are all in this together.
Important Contract Negotiation Meeting
The SAG-AFTRA Nashville Local will be conducting a Wages & Working Conditions Meeting in preparation for the SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical-Exhibit A Contract Negotiations. For details on W&W 2014, please visit the SAG-AFTRA website at SAGAFTRA.org.
Proposals for this important negotiation are developed through the involvement of members like you. Make your voice heard, attend and participate in this very important process. The meeting is open to all paid-up SAG-AFTRA members (please bring your current membership card for admittance, paid thru April 30, 2014).
When: 1-3 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 19
Where: 1108 17th Ave., S. Nashville, TN 37212
Please RSVP by contacting Judy Ellis at (615) 327-2944 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Attention Members Who are Actively Producing: SAG-AFTRA members who are actively producing cannot attend the W&W Committee Meetings due to conflict of interest.
Email Suggestions - Can’t make it to the committee meeting? You can still play an active part by emailing your ideas to email@example.com. Recommendations must be received by Feb. 26, 2014.
All proposal recommendations will be reviewed by the Wages & Working Conditions Committee.
SAG-AFTRA Christmas Caroling
By Craig Morris
In the late 1980s and 90s, I was heavily involved in our union, serving as a board member and, eventually, as an officer for AFTRA. Those of us on the board at that time wanted to create a charitable project, a way for union members to gather together, combine their talents and do something good for the Nashville community. And so began the annual AFTRA/SAG Christmas Carolers. I have had the humbling honor of leading the carolers for most of the 25 years we’ve been doing this, and it has become as important a Christmas tradition for my family as putting up the tree!
We have performed at Baptist Hospital, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, ASCAP, SESAC, BMI, the Harris-Hillman School, the Maybel Carter Assisted Living Home, the Women’s and Children’s Mission, the Men’s Mission and — one of the most heart-touching and memorable stops — the Tennessee School For The Blind.
Over the years, our group has consisted of some of the finest singers, recording artists, songwriters, actors, voiceover artists and musicians that the entertainment world has to offer.
Funny thing about doing a “kindness” for someone: Without expectation, often the ones doing the “kindness” receive an even greater blessing than those whom the “kindness” was directed. The most common sentiment I hear after our caroling trips is that the people who participate want to start coming every year from now on. Each time we go, there are several precious and unforgettable memories created, new friendships established and a fresh sense of purpose in using our abilities to bring a smile, a tear, or a heartfelt “thank you,” “God bless you” or “Merry Christmas.”
It is my hope that SAG-AFTRA will continue this tradition and that more and more members and friends of the union will join with us in spreading the love, the innocent joy and the timeless story that the Christmas celebration is all about.
Twenty-five years so far — wow! Let’s do another 25. Let’s see, that’ll put me at about 79. Good Lord willing, I’m in! Are you?
I would like to offer my personal thanks to the entire administration, officers, board members and staff of SAG-AFTRA for budgeting annually for this event and for doing the “grunt” work necessary in putting it all together, as well as to Gray Line Bus Company for their loyal support.
Carolers meet Santa (Chris Ladd). Brenda “Bear” Barnett, left, and Donna Rhodes.