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Damage Control

Strikewatch_blog_2 After AFTRA decided to "suspend" its 27-year joint bargaining agreement with SAG over the weekend, SAG President Alan Rosenberg dispatched a letter to Guild members on March 30 in which he challenged AFTRA's claim that the joint-bargaining relationship between the two unions disintegrated because of the incident surrounding The Bold and the Beautiful.  AFTRA quickly issued a press release pointing fingers at SAG for being dishonest.

In her blog, Nikki Finke published Rosenberg's letter to members, which included these juicy tidbits...

"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."

Rosenberg ended the letter saying SAG was ready to negotiate with the AMPTP, especially given the national board's approval of the Wages and Working Conditions package on March 29. He also vowed to continue to "work hard to improve the lives of all actors and their families."

Meanwhile, AFTRA issued a press release that also claimed to have performers' best interests at heart.  Roberta Reardon, National President of AFTRA said...

"AFTRA's leadership believes that our union must devote its energies first and foremost to working on behalf of performers...During the past year, AFTRA has fought hard and expended an enormous amount of time, energy, and resources to maintain the integrity of our Phase One joint bargaining process with Screen Actors Guild so we could sit across the table from the industry with total and unequivocal unity. Unfortunately, SAG leadership has made this impossible.

"For the past year, SAG leadership in Hollywood has engaged in a relentless campaign of disinformation and disparagement, culminating in a recent attempt to decertify an AFTRA daytime soap opera. As a result of this continued and ongoing behavior by SAG leadership, which at its core harms all working performers and the labor movement, we find ourselves unable to have confidence in their ability to live up to the principles of partnership and union solidarity. AFTRA believes it must now devote its full energies to working on behalf of performers, and not wasting time assessing whether our partner is being honest with us.

"The board's approval of a suspension of Phase One -- not a termination -- was mindful of the fact that there many among SAG's leadership that are as troubled by the events that have led us to this point as we are. We are hopeful that someday, the historic trust between these two organizations can be rebuilt -- in the best interests of all performers," said Reardon. 

The release also announced that internally AFTRA has approved a deal on behalf of performers with the four major broadcast networks...

"In unanimously approving the tentative agreement with the four major television networks and producers on the AFTRA Network TV Code, the National Board noted that the new agreement contains solid increases in wage rates for all categories, increased contributions for the AFTRA Health and Retirement plan, and addresses discrete issues affecting every category of performer. In addition, the agreement preserves significant principles which are a hallmark of AFTRA contracts -- such as universal coverage of background performers and contract security for daytime serial contract players."

Before concluding the release, AFTRA again noted how the new deal will benefit performers, especially in one of the areas of most concern -- new media...

"This contract is extraordinary for performers and made significant progress on many fronts, including importantly new media jurisdiction and compensation," said Reardon.

Obviously, both unions are eager to paint themselves as the biggest advocates for performers. Now it's just a matter of who can pound out a deal with the AMPTP first. We're taking bets...got 20 bucks?

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