From a press release issued today by UFS:
Alec Baldwin, Sally Field, Lewis Black Among Stars Endorsing Unite for Strength
Field urges leadership change in email to membership
Unite for Strength, a group of candidates running for seats on the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Board of Directors, today announced endorsements of their slate by several dozen high-profile SAG members, including Alec Baldwin, Sally Field, Tom Hanks, Lewis Black and Patricia Heaton. The Unite for Strength candidates are seeking to wrest control of the board from the “Membership First” faction, which they blame for stoking hostilities with sister union the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), thereby decreasing SAG’s leverage in current contract negotiations.
In an email message distributed to 38,000 Hollywood SAG members, Field urged fellow actors to support election of the slate in order “to end the senseless war with AFTRA and start building a united front of actors to fight for more working opportunities and better pay.”
“Enough is enough is enough. Membership First has the divide and conquer strategy all wrong – the idea is for us to be united and them to be divided so we do the conquering, not the other way around.” said Lewis Black.
“SAG’s ongoing battle with AFTRA and the fighting within our own union is weakening us at the bargaining table,” said Patricia Heaton. “We obviously need to chart a different course, and this election gives members the chance to do it,” continued Heaton.
Some of the high-profile SAG members endorsing Unite for Strength are:
Ed Begley, Jr.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
William H. Macy
Freddie Prinze, Jr.
The full text of Sally Field’s email message to the Hollywood Division membership of SAG follows:
Dear Fellow SAG Members:
In the 43 years I’ve been a member, I’ve never before doubted our union’s leadership. I respected the dedication of members volunteering for board service and trusted them to effectively represent our interests as performers. But recent actions of the Hollywood Board have destroyed my faith.
With the most important contract negotiation in years pending, those Board members – or more accurately, the overwhelming majority who call themselves “Membership First” – decided to go to war with AFTRA, our sister union. They threatened to end the longstanding practice of negotiating the TV/Theatrical contract together and launched an attack on AFTRA in the press, with one Membership First Board member going so far as to publicly call AFTRA “a scumbag union.”
Ultimately, they were forced to withdraw their referendum threatening to end joint negotiation, after receiving a storm of criticism from SAG members who said that going it alone would weaken our position at the bargaining table. But their hostility toward AFTRA continued and AFTRA finally decided it couldn’t trust SAG enough to negotiate the contract together.
And so here we are, negotiating on our own with diminished leverage against a united front of media conglomerates. Is this what we want for our future?
If this leadership stays in place, the bad relations with AFTRA will persist, and we’ll continue to negotiate contracts from a position of division and weakness. With the commercials contract up for negotiation in October, that dismal prospect is just around the corner.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Next month, you’ll have the opportunity to change SAG’S leadership by electing 33 new members to the Board of Directors. A group of smart, dedicated SAG members who are as troubled as I am by the divisive policies of the current leadership are running for the board. Elect them and we’ll have SAG leadership that will end the senseless war with AFTRA and start building a united front of actors to fight for more working opportunities and better pay.
With the rise of huge media conglomerates and the accelerating transformation of our industry by new technologies, actors face huge and growing challenges. We just can’t afford to be divided now. Join me in electing new leadership that understands strength at the bargaining table comes through unity.
Please visit www.UniteforStrength.com for more details. And when your ballot arrives, please vote for the Unite for Strength candidates.
For strength through unity,