Unions battle as studios look on


Rather than a battle between workers and management, the current battle raging in Hollywood is between two unions. Both AFTRA and SAG are enlisting A-list actors to pitch their side of the dispute, in which SAG is trying to torpedo AFTRA’s pending contract with the studios.

Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey have been front and center urging fellow AFTRA members to ratify the contract that union cut with the studios. Like many actors, they are members of both unions. Supporters of the AFTRA pact fear a strike would be unproductive.

“They are not working for actors and SAG is,” said Viggo Mortensen in a particularly vehement assault on AFTRA. He, Jack Nicholson and Nick Nolte are featured in a new ad coming out today from SAG urging AFTRA members to vote down their union’s contract.

AFTRA has criticized SAG for “spending its members’ dues in a misguided effort to attack another union and undermine a solid contract.” AFTRA, the smaller of the two unions, insists it negotiated a good deal for its members. “No contract is ever perfect. But any honest negotiator with experience in this industry will tell you that what your negotiating committee secured on your behalf is not only a solid deal, but an impressive one,” said AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth in a lengthy letter to members. She denounced the SAG attack as “a disservice to every AFTRA member.”

RBR/TVBR observation: It’s pretty easy to see who will be the losers in this fight – the actors who are members of either union. After seeing how little WGA members actually gained from their strike, which was far less than they lost from the time they weren’t getting paid, you wouldn’t think SAG leaders would be gung ho on setting the stage for another Hollywood strike. Not only are they heading in that direction, but they want to warm up for the fight with the studios by having a fight with another union. What are they thinking?