By Mary Em Burns
From left, PTEOE member Abby Dylan with Twin Cities Local member Susan Ericksen and Local Board member Sandy Thomas.
Local members convened at Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota in November to chat, nosh on tasty appetizers, and listen to reports from local board members and special guests on the state of SAG-AFTRA in the Twin Cities and upper Midwest. First Vice President Peter Moore presided over the meeting (since our esteemed President Bob Davis was off doing a play in London).
After a brief introduction by Moore and a report from our National Board member, Randal Berger, members enjoyed a lively Q&A session with Abby Dylan, National Board member from Seattle and a member of the President’s Task Force on Education, Outreach and Engagement (PTEOE). Dylan spoke about the activities of the PTEOE and shared several specific takeaways, including:
• The Interactive strike affects all union members; the interactive world is a global industry worth $100 billion and is being produced and marketed like a traditional theatrical product;
• Take pride in your union membership and your work as a professional performer;
• Share your own union story by uploading it to the SAG-AFTRA website;
• Engage with your local and local industry partners; and
• Choose to be an expert in the contract(s) you work under; you will be better prepared on set and better able to flip a job to a union contract.
Moore then introduced Sean Hennessy, manager of commercial and corporate/educational contracts for the SAG-AFTRA Chicago Local. Hennessy provided a report on work done under the Twin Cities Local Co/Ed waiver. He noted that, to date, the waiver has captured close to 60 jobs for 25 members. He noted that major advertisers such as Best Buy, Mayo Clinic, 3M and Bristol Meyers Squibb have produced under the waiver. Hennessy also talked about the importance of SAG-AFTRA’s Commercial Organizing and Recapture Initiative in the Midwest, noting that both the campaign and the waiver will be important tools in union outreach, education, enforcement, and engagement of the Twin Cities acting and production community. He concluded by stating he looks forward to working with the Twin Cities Local to solidify a future for our members in this region.
Shirley Venard, Randal Berger and Ken Ujifusa
Members showing their cards at the November membership meeting.
Moore then introduced Local Board members Sandra Thomas and Mark Bradley, both leaders in education, outreach and organizing activities locally. Thomas briefly reported on the SAG-AFTRA Foundation resources (see article below) and added that we are hoping to bring at least one Foundation workshop event to the Twin Cities in 2017. She reminded members of our regular monthly Second Monday Mixers, noting they provide great socializing and networking opportunities.
Bradley then reported briefly on organizing efforts. He noted that there is a strong local organizing network being created. He reported that recording of audiobooks is almost all organized now and added that MPR is working on their first contract. Bradley is encouraged and feels we are moving in a great direction.
After all reports and questions were finished, Moore thanked everyone for coming and encouraged members to stay engaged with the union and each other. The meeting ended with a group “show your card” photo and plenty of hope for increased opportunities in 2017!