Nashville based long time SAG activist Cece Dubois makes an important point in responding to a SAG-AFTRA decision to shut numerous local offices: this is a decision that should have been made at the upcoming union convention. But transparency and accountability are not, apparently, values critical to the recently merged unions. Other reports indicate that open opposition is now breaking out with merger supporters now claiming they would have opposed merger had they realized the impact on key locals like Portland.
As I have said several times here and in the debate about union mergers, it is easy to cut costs through a merger but it is harder to make the case that mergers will increase revenues, either for the union or for the members. There is no indication for example that the SAG-AFTRA NED David White, not a trade unionist by nature or background but a former studio lawyer, ever considered ways to use the existing offices to organize new members and to increase SAG-AFTRA leverage in the industry.
SAG activists around the country struggled for many years to spread SAG’s pro-union gospel to areas other than NY or LA especially as the entertainment and media industries spread business to new areas like New Mexico. During the 2000 commercials strike the branch offices were critical in gaining support from other parts of the labor movement, including support from the UAW in places like Nashville. (Nashville will retain one staff member after heavy lobbying.)
The labor movement itself will be that much poorer without the presence of SAG-AFTRA in these cities.