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Interactive Ed

Strikewatch_blog Ed Fry, a SAG and Equity member who currently serves as 3rd vp of the AFTRA N.Y. Local, pointed out a few inaccuracies in my April 17 post “Look Back in Interactive." A longtime tri-union member, I thought Ed had some interesting points to make about SAG and AFTRA’s contract negotiations. So here he is as Strike Watch’s very first guest blogger.

Take it away, Ed….

“If you're looking for applicable history (if there is any), I'd say go back to the negotiation just before the advent of the Phase One Agreement (1981). If I'm not mistaken, there is history posted on SAG Watch. There is also a post--actually two, with the correction--by me in the Talkback section regarding my thoughts about the forces we face and what shape a media union should have in the century we now find ourselves. Also, there is a history of the last 10 AFTRA-SAG years by a colleague, Matt Kimbrough of L.A., posted at AftraNow that is well worth reading, written by someone who's been there and been through it all.

“I think it's less than accurate to suggest all this back and forth is about ‘two unions.’ It isn't. It's about two different sets of ideas and approaches for one set of media professionals. It's about what a media union should be, who should be in it, and what it should cover. It's very much about the power and leverage we have at any moment. It's also a contest of ideas regarding organizing: employers, members, premembers, what they do, how much, and where they live. And it's always been a contest of geography—too often East Coast versus West Coast and the work and social patterns they represent.

“One last thing. You mentioned the pressure on SAG regarding new media. If there is any, AFTRA did not put it there. The first union to reach a deal in this area put it there, in this case the DGA. And that deal was largely replicated by the WGA. That's the pressure both AFTRA and SAG face. And the real issue isn't the pressure; it's whether the DGA or the WGA were asking the right set of questions going into their respective negotiations. Because those questions created the results thus far. The DGA does not believe this is a ‘watershed’ negotiation. They counsel keeping our collective powder dry for likely the next time we sit and negotiate. But there's no question that actors are feeling squeezed by changes in production (fewer pilots, more offshore shooting) and use (fewer reruns in free TV) of scripted entertainment. And the issue of whether we are being fairly compensated in DVDs remains. So, ‘watershed’ or not, there are significant issues on the table. Too bad we come to them in such a politically poisonous atmosphere. Imagine what a consolidated union could do.”

 --Ed Fry


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