SAG & AFTRA MERGER

Okay, so I have been active with the Screen Actor’s Guild in the past, but honestly can’t say that I have been super involved for the past few years. I believe it’s because I don’t know what to believe any more. I have such a hard time wrapping my head around actors and unions willingly f’ing over other actors and themselves in the long run with bad contracts and weak backbones… And yet, I’ve seen it over and over.

AFTRA f’ed actors over when they offered inferior contracts to TV producers a few years ago, undercutting the Screen Actors Guild contracts… So, AFTRA, a union that is SUPPOSED to care about ACTORS, F’ed all of the actors that belong to AFTRA that also worked SAG contracts. The same jobs for less money and benefits. And don’t even get me started on actors that are Fi-Core.

I have friends that are VERY PRO MERGER (team “if you can’t beat ’em, join them”), and I have friends that are NOT FOR THE MERGER (most of them seem to be for one union, but not without more clarity to the answers)… And I don’t know if I’ve ever talked with anyone that’s not for all actors being in the same union at some point…

I will publicly say that I have heard both arguments, and let me tell you something… I really don’t see a good clear answer yet… To me it seems there are too many questions still looming to make a clear decision… And this is not something that can be undone.

I will also say that what we have right now isn’t working very well either, that I wasn’t happy with the AFTRA contract when it was proposed to the membership, and knew it was a horrid thing, begged people to NOT LET IT PASS (here are three blogs I posted in 2008 concerning that contract: “For God’s Sake… No!” and “I Hope” and “More Saying No“). But obviously more voted for it, and we’ve felt the results since, and now we, the blue collar professional actors of Hollywood, seem to be making less and less each year for the same exact jobs…

If you’re looking for me to tell you HOW TO VOTE right now on the proposed merger, forget it. At this point, there’s no way I’ll take any responsibility for whatever outcome is on the horizon.

But I will say to all those actors that are publicly SCREAMING TO MERGE NOW… if it all goes to shit, it’s on you. Just like those of you that voted for that CRAPPY AFTRA CONTRACT a few years ago. And just like my “vote no” words from 2008 were captured in time, so will your words of “vote yes.” So if this passes, you better be right.

By the way a simple Google search will show you some of those individuals that publicly went on record to get that detrimental AFTRA contract passed in 2008.

There are repercussions to these contracts. Whether it’s going on strike, merging unions, accepting wage cuts… Whether you’re voting no, voting yes, or not voting at all.

I will read what’s sent to me, I will continue to read opinions from both sides…

Here’s the VOTE NO – MERGER page.

The PRO-MERGER SAG page can be found here.

And here are the SAG-AFTRA merger documents, which are on my “to read” list.

Again, I’m not trying to sway anyone, any particular way… This is a big vote. Huge. And I don’t think it’s as simple as “I think it’d be good to be in one union.” Or “one union one voice.” The answers and questions that really matter are in the details, and I’m still not convinced one way or another.

Poor decisions hurt for years and years to come…
“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

So what am I saying… Don’t just listen to members and celebrities that tell you to swallow the pill or spit the pill up… Make smart and informed choices for yourself…

If I come to a definitive conclusion, as I have with many of the contracts in the past. I will post about it again.

Some say in life sometimes you just have to leap… And figure the rest as you fall. Because without leaping you risk never soaring.

But others, look before they leap, because they have been shown through experience that wings don’t have a tendency to form spontaneously. And they would rather have a hang-glider, bungee cord, parachute or crash pad in place…

And yes I do know there are people that no matter how many things you gave them, showing them how safe things were, would never jump.

Me, I like to minimize the risk, and know as much as possible before jumping… But when I’ve learned enough, and trust it’s the right decision… I will jump.

– Quiche Out

10 Comments »

  1. Tom,

    I appreciate your well thought out blog, but I think you have missed a very basic point.
    AFTRA’s goal was not to “f” over actors when they “offered inferior contracts to TV producers”, they were trying to WIN contracts for THEIR membership. That is a union leaderships DUTY, to get work for THEIR members. In this case, they did it by offering the buyers (producers) a better deal, and it worked. That is free market competition. And as long as we have TWO unions representing basically the same pool of actors, this competition will continue, and we actors will continue to lose.

    This is Economics 101. We are the vendors, producers are the buyers. No matter how many buyers there are, if there is ONE vendor, that vendor can set the price. But as soon as there is a second vendor for that same commodity, it becomes a competitive market and the power shifts to the buyer.

    (EXAMPLE: You need milk and you live in a town with only one store that sells milk. That store charges $5 a gallon. You really want milk, you pay $5. But, if a second store opens across the street selling the same brand of milk for $4 a gallon, how much do you have to pay for milk? You can still pay $5 at the first store, but you are probably going across the street to buy it for $4. AND if the store selling it for $5 wants to get your business back…they have to sell milk for LESS than $4. THIS IS VERY BASIC. We are the commodity. The producers are the buyers. Do not give them the option of going across the street. )

    This is why the need to merge is imperative. We will continue to “f” ourselves as long as we have to complete with ourselves to get the contracts.
    I have carefully read the merger documents. All the arguments against this merger have been exaggerations, misrepresentations or are just ridiculously petty in light of the big picture. It is like telling someone who is having a massive heart not to get in the ambulance because it might crash while driving to the hospital.

    In 2003, I believe it was the LA Weekly that ran the headline “Champagne Corks Pop in Producer’s Suites across Hollywood as Merger Vote Fails” Let’s not give the producers another victory. Let’s win this one for the ACTORS!!

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    • While I understand what you wrote, and I’ve heard this argument said other ways in the past… I happily stick by what I wrote.

      I agree that we shouldn’t be competing with ourselves, and that’s the insane thing about it… IF WE ARE THE UNIONS then WE undercut ourselves.

      Like

    • I’d like to address the gallon of milk analogy. It is absolutely true that one would shop to get a $4 gallon of milk at a store versus a $5 gallon of milk down the street. Common sense rules on this one, yes. THIS IS VERY BASIC, as you point out with large letters. However, what you are forgetting in your analogy is this: the milk manufacturer, the dairy, is not the one affected in those cases! The milk people have already set their price before selling it to the store. Then the store can re-sell it for whatever it wants. Remember, you said the “same brand of milk”, so they have no real issue in what the store chooses as their profit margin. If the store itself wants to make less, fine.
      But with us this is not the case. We are the milk here. We’re the dairy. Our price has been undercut before it even gets to the store. The store is telling us what we’re worth before it gets to the FREE MARKET. We are the product and our right to set our price has been sold by AFTRA’s last contract. The AFTRA “store” took less profit by forcing us to sell our milk at ridiculous prices, prices that might be in the same place as they were or even better if AFTRA had not chosen to break off the negotiating agreement then that had been previously agreed upon and honored. Being that it is a buy-in union they could fill the shelves with all their cheap milk that they could find. They’ve forced the dairies to sell for so little that most become part-time milk people. And since actors aren’t even everyone in AFTRA many non-milk people are voting on setting milk’s pricing. One union for milk, absolutely! 2%, whole milk, Half & Half, etc, should all be together. But only the milk people should decide on their value, not ask any other products what milk is worth.
      As an actor I don’t get to tell an electrician what he’s worth, or a doctor, or babysitter, or a jack-hammer operator. That would be ridiculous. Why are not only actors deciding their worth, and then why aren’t those who are to lead us making sure that our value is appreciated and honored at a negotiating table? I don’t know. I guess you can ask AFTRA’s leadership for those answers. I’m sure they have them… since we are their constituency and only our best interests are on their minds. Right? One union for actors? Absolutely! I look forward to the time when only actors vote on actors’ needs!
      When that happens there will be a headline in the LA Weekly that reads “Champagne Corks Pop in Actors’ Home across Hollywood as Actors Unite!” So let’s go win one for ACTORS!!

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      • By the way, I happen to love David Bickford, who wrote the post to which I’m responding. So this is not derogatory or petty, just a differing opinon. It’ll probably be one of the few times I’d ever disagree with him. He’s a great guy and a great union guy… and a helluva an actor and musician. In fact, follow the Black Orchid. They’re great!

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