Variety’s Brian Lowry makes some valid points in this opinion piece. Foremost is his emphasis on strategic thinking – or, rather, the lack thereof, on SAG’s part.
Once the WGA went back the die was cast, and SAG must have known it. Turning on tiny AFTRA as a scapegoat has only helped dissolve any remaining goodwill they might have had in the town and among fans.
Now, the “battle of the A-listers” underway risks a deep division within the Guild itself. The concept of UNION is as important to the internal life of the labor movement as it is to the external face labor presents to the employers. That lesson seems to have been forgotten by the current Guild leadership (recall the comments allegedly made by SAG President Alan Rosenberg about not getting “his strike”?)
Andrew Salomon at Backstage is out with a story arguing that, in part, the Membership First fear of getting stuck in an unfair new media formula as they certainly did with DVD residuals animates some of the thinking in SAG.
Fair enough. Of course, in 1980 the DVD formula did not look so bad – in fact, it was largely only in the late 90s that the windfall profits won by the producers took hold, and now, of course, those are now apparently levelling off.
That suggests, however, the very opposite of the “go it alone” “strategy” adopted by SAG. An “all or nothing” approach now cannot possibly solve the problem as no one knows when or how a particular formula will really impact business models.
The solution obviously is strong contract re-opener language coupled with a windfall profits tax contract term. And, as I have argued ad nauseum, a much more comprehensive multi-year effort to increase the leverage of all of the unions BEFORE bargaining begins. Avoiding the kind of last minute destructive brinksmanship we see now requires a different approach altogether.
(Wheww, I finally got a chance to use this historic image of Sally Field. An impressive life size mural of the image used to hang on the wall inside SAG HQ, though I was told it was taken down some months ago. I wonder why.)