Union feud heating up


“I assure you, this is not about union politics,” said SAG President Alan Rosenberg as he sent members a memo attacking the tentative contract that AFTRA has cut with the television and movie studios – which, of course, means that is exactly what the fight is about. SAG is now campaigning to have AFTRA members vote down the new contract, which SAG insists sells actors short and could make it difficult for SAG to negotiate a better deal.

SAG’s current contract with the studios expires the end of this month and it is still unable to resolve some key issues in its negotiations, including residuals and exclusive union representation for new media production and re-positioning, improved DVD residuals and pay hikes for actors that go beyond cost-of-living adjustments.

SAG’s board of directors had asked AFTRA to hold off on having members vote on its new contract until after SAG completes its talks, but the smaller union refused.

“We believe that the tentative AFTRA deal and its pending ratification – coming as it does within several days of SAG’s June 30 contract deadline – is a distraction that the employers are using to delay significant progress in our negotiations.

Delaying ratification of the AFTRA contract could benefit all actors. AFTRA members too would benefit by increased leverage in our negotiations and through any favored nations clauses SAG might be able to achieve that would provide improvements in the AFTRA deal.

Regrettably, AFTRA President Roberta Reardon and Executive director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth informed us by letter that AFTRA will not agree to a delay in their ratification schedule. I assure you, this is NOT about union politics. It is about using our combined leverage to achieve the best terms possible for actors–in both unions,” Rosenberg said in his memo.

RBR/TVBR observation: SAG rules the roost as far as unionized actors for making movies, but many television productions could theoretically go on in the event of a SAG strike, so long as the AFTRA pact is approved. Caught in the crossfire are more than half of the AFTRA members, who also carry SAG cards. Those 44,000 dual members (out of 70,000 or so total at AFTRA who will be covered by the studio contract) will be the main focus of the SAG campaign to get them to vote “no” on the AFTRA deal.