S.A.G. President responds to AFTRA move

This message below went out to Guild members today from Guild President Alan Rosenberg. We now have two competing views of the situation: AFTRA President Reardon said AFTRA was ending Phase One because of the Guild’s role in attempting to decertify AFTRA on the Bold and Beautiful soap. Rosenberg admits that he met with actors from the show but says they were directed to talk to AFTRA – it certainly seems to have brushed right up against the line to have met with the soap actors, and why do that while engaged in preparation for joint bargaining with AFTRA? It may not have amounted to a “campaign” as Rosenberg asserts here but couldn’t the problems at B&B have waited a few months? Why even agree to a meeting?

There are other reports that when asked to commit to a no-raid policy on AFTRA turf this weekend, S.A.G. refused – agreeing only to a two year truce. Not a great way to win trust with the 40,000 dual cardholders of both unions. And keep in mind that it is VERY unlikely that Reardon and Co. at AFTRA broke with Phase One without a phone call to the AFL-CIO President, John Sweeney, who will not be happy to see the breakdown of the truce he thought had been agreed to here. Watch for an acceleration of AFTRA’s ties to the IA, Equity and the CWA in the near future.

Dear Screen Actors Guild members,

You will hear many things over the next few days about AFTRA’s decision to effectively terminate our Phase One joint bargaining relationship. We have been jointly bargaining several contracts with AFTRA since 1981 and the AFTRA board voted yesterday to end that relationship (under the Phase One Agreement) and forge ahead without SAG.

AFTRA HAS THREE TELEVISION SHOWS UNDER THIS CONTRACT AND THEY DON’T COVER MOTION PICTURES.

As your President, I feel it is important that you have the facts.

AFTRA leaders claim…That SAG attempted to “raid” its jurisdiction and to “campaign” to help The Bold & The Beautiful daytime drama actors decertify from AFTRA.

FACT: Actors from the show, who are also SAG members, asked to meet with us. We heard their complaints of extreme dissatisfaction with AFTRA, AND DIRECTED THEM TO TALK WITH AFTRA. We did not have a campaign of any kind.

AFTRA leaders claim… The Bold & The Beautiful incident was “the last straw,” but waited more than two weeks to raise the issue. Instead, the day before the joint SAG/AFTRA board meeting, they alerted the press (not SAG) and accused us of poaching. Two days earlier, they had participated in our two-day national joint Wages & Working conditions meeting where members of both unions VOTED UNANIMOUSLY to approve the proposal package. Didn’t the “last straw” matter then?

AFTRA never has stated how it plans to come to the aid of the B &B actors. They are too busy blaming us for the problem. Institution first, members last.

FACT: SAG IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY WAY IN ORGANIZING DAYTIME DRAMA ACTORS. While we have great respect for daytime actors, this is AFTRA’s area. In fact, the SAG national board passed a motion Saturday morning to assure AFTRA (as AFTRA requested) that SAG will abide by the AFL CIO rules regulating raiding.

FACT: Despite this expression of good faith and reassurance from SAG, AFTRA leaders voted to “suspend” Phase One and go it alone. They marched into our board meeting, said they would not be bargaining jointly, and left. The joint board meeting to approve the proposal package for joint bargaining never even took place.

AFTRA leaders claim …SAG has undertaken a campaign to discredit them.

FACT: AFTRA bargained cable deals at rates lower than SAG minimums and waived residuals. They fully admit this and are now getting backlash from members who are wondering where their residuals went. AFTRA must be accountable for granting these waivers to the contracts we have fought hard to achieve. Again, how is this problem SAG’s fault? Will they now go bargain these sub-standard contracts for primetime network/pay TV programs and lower the bar for all SAG actors in the process?

AFTRA claims …that SAG Hollywood leaders are looking for a strike.

FACT: Not true. Nobody wants a strike, especially after the 100 day WGA strike. Elected SAG leaders across the country want to be strong on your behalf at the bargaining table. YOU elected your leadership. You elected me to achieve the best possible wages and working conditions. While the DGA and WGA made deals, we are not directors or writers. We are actors, and actors have different issues that are not in the DGA and WGA deals.

What’s next?

We will begin negotiations. We believe the AMPTP will be eager to do so, especially since motion picture start dates are critical. Your national board approved the proposal package yesterday that so many members contributed to during our W & W process. We are ready to negotiate.

Members are our first priority, not the institution. As your president, I vow to continue to work hard to improve the lives of all actors and their families. You deserve nothing less.

In solidarity,

Alan Rosenberg