Is the LA Times out to kill SAG?

Hey, it could be a coincidence but I am not sure I believe in coincidences.

Yesterday afternoon the LA Times informed me they would not run my op-ed suggesting that SAG and AFTRA reconsider plans to merge because there was a better alternative: performing artists move just to SAG and broadcast journalists move to the CWA where they would join print journalists and NABET (studio engineers and technical staff).

And now today we get this hit piece on SAG by Richard Verrier that was probably created by whatever PR apparatus the SAG and AFTRA bureaucracy is using to push actors into a new union to be run by, you guessed it, the same SAG and AFTRA bureaucracy. It is striking that the Times did not quote any of the prominent members of SAG who have alternative views on merger. Nor did they reach out to any broadcast journalists of AFTRA who might be of the view that News At 6 folks would rather go their own way.

One news tidbit: the Times reports the leaders of the two unions have ALREADY begun secret talks over merger. No transparency or union democracy in action there. The Times story itself is evidence that the leaders are moving faster towards merger than the rank and file of SAG is aware.

Of course the Times leaves out the back story: the producers have picked AFTRA as their go-to union for pilots over the last two years to exact retribution from SAG for its tough approach to bargaining, instead making the meaningless statement that AFTRA’s breakaway from SAG enabled it to win the pilots.  (For the record, I disagreed with the tactics of SAG in the last contract talks but certainly not with their toughness. It was my belief that the tough talk was not backed up by smart tactical thinking that led me to withdraw my candidacy as NED of SAG in 2006.)

Of course the loss of the pilots is now being blamed – by merger proponents and their allies at the Times – for financial troubles hitting actors. The financial troubles are real enough but using that problem to force through an illogical merger that would weaken actor power is a mistake. And ignoring the maneuvering by the Producers and the current guild leadership to manufacture this “crisis” in order to realize their attempt at empire building in the industry is irresponsible journalism.

Sadly creative SAG leadership under the grey ghost Ken Howard is almost non-existent. SAG moderate loyalists assure me that behind the scenes a top secret strategy is being implemented. We’ll see.

Actors lose out on health benefits as SAG, AFTRA keep separate plans – Los Angeles Times.