SAG and AFTRA are considering merging with one another. Although the merger won’t move into high gear until 2011, it’s especially important for SAG members to understand this issue now, because next week they’ll be voting for new members of the SAG Board of Directors. I’m a candidate, and I’m running on the slate of Membership First.
Most actors, myself included, are in favor of a merger. There’s little benefit in splitting our screen work between two unions. However — it must be a merger under terms which strengthen actors’ voice and preserve their independence. This seems pretty obvious, right? If a merger won’t strengthen actors, why do it at all?
To help produce this result, I and my fellow candidates for the Board in Membership First want a simple solution: All Actors in One Union.
The sticking point to this is that AFTRA has many non-actor members (broadcasters, weathermen, etc.). Some people are so eager for a merger that they’d like to bring non-actors over into an all-actors union. But doing so would likely mean that these non-actors would vote on actors’ contracts.
There are a couple very big problems with this. First, non-actors are not familiar with actors’ concerns (residuals, contract terms for different types of roles, etc.). [And the reverse is true: Actors don’t know the concerns of non-actors—although in one big union, actors would be voting on their contracts.]
The second problem is that non-actors don’t work under actors’ contracts. They aren’t affected by such contracts. If the contracts improve, they don’t benefit from them.
Therefore, they’re unlikely to vote with actors on standing tough on certain contract issues: Why would (or should) non-actors risk losing days at work by voting to improve someone else’s contract?
Also, because the non-actors would be a minority in the merged actors’ union, they’d likely seek to increase their voice by voting as a bloc (i.e., all in the same way) and voting very actively. Doing so would give non-actors a power and influence much greater than their actual percentage of membership. So it’s easy to imagine the outcome of a close (or even somewhat) vote being determined by non-actors.
The end result: Actors would no longer be in sole control of deciding on the contracts which determine their salary, residuals, Pension & Health plans, etc., etc.
Please preserve the entire purpose of merging: To strengthen actors’ voice and control.
All Actors in one union.
So if you’re a SAG member (or know one, then please tell them):
Posted in Acting Tips & Info