Wednesday, August 1, 2007

SAG and AFTRA News for August 1st: Good, Bad, and Ugly

A bunch of stories to link out here.


Why they would do this I dont know. Basically 'Phase One' means that at negotiations SAG and AFTRA have an equal number of seats at the table. I think this is ... well ... dumb. SAG has a lot more members. If SAG has twice as many members, they should have twice as many seats (though I think the actual difference is 10 to 7 in SAG's favor).
I did find this interesting though:
"Now here's the catch, The final, amended wording of the resolution stated a desire to tinker with how Phase One is implemented during negotiations. Specifically, SAG may try to implement so-called bloc voting on the negotiating committee, sources said. Representation still would be apportioned 50-50, but SAG votes would automatically be counted as a unanimous bloc in favor of whatever position is carried by a majority of SAG reps on the committee. "So if, say, eight SAG committee members want to vote for a position and two are against, through bloc-voting all 10 votes would count as being for the position," a labor community insider explained."

Variety also has a quick write up of the same situation HERE.


Interesting development here. With SAG circling the wagons, hoping into bed with the WGA and DGA, and working really hard against Fi-Cores, it looks like AFTRA is trying to reach out to other unions also:
"It grows out of our desire to strike strategic alliances with a large number of entertainment unions," AFTRA spokesman John Hinrichs said of the IATSE announcement. "We have worked with IATSE in the past on a number of ventures, (and) what this says is that we're gong to sit down to figure out ways of working together to benefit our members on a continuing basis."Hinrichs added, "There are no plans at this point to merge."


And lastly:


'Nuff said yeah?

"Other unions, like the Screen Actors Guild have become increasingly concerned at the prospects of a work stoppage sometime within the next year driven by unhappy members that feel they've been treated unfairly by the studios. While SAG's contract doesn't officially expire until July of 2008, and while the Writers Guild expires later this fall, they appear to have many common goals and fears: a general labor strike.
Between the big three, the WGA is considered to be the most militant of the guilds, that is to say they are the most willing to strike if several issues that have been simmering on the back burner since as far back as the 1980s are not addressed this time around, while the Directors Guild of America has been the most pacifist, having never struck in their entire existence.
All three unions are particularly frustrated over the studio's refusal change the residual formula for DVDs, and at least for the WGA, their refusal to even negotiate a new formula for the emerging download and streaming market.
The Screen Actors Guild jointly negotiates its television contract with American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the former of the two having significantly more members and operates more closely to that of a blue collar union. Factions have developed within SAG that are angry over AFTRA's practice of signing contracts with productions for lower wages than are required by the SAG contracts, which they feel severely undercut their bargaining power."



  1. Mark Bradley, AEA, AFTRA, SAGAugust 2, 2007 at 8:47 AM

    Yes, there's a certain logic to the thought that SAG should have larger representation at the joint bargaining table -- SAG has more members and generally generates more income through its version of the contract. The problem is that it isn't one contract, it's TWO contracts that look exactly alike. "Parallel" might be a good way to think about the negotiations, with two unions sitting side-by-side at the table and crafting a contract acceptable to each. If AFTRA were to allow SAG a majority at the table, it would be ceding its responsibility to negotiate for its members to another entity, which it simply cannot do.

  2. Exactly! Yes, yes I understand why the current relationship exists. What I think we're looking at is the difference between the house and the senate. What concerns me though is that with two entities overlapping as much as they do, with hazier and hazier boundaries (especially in regards to new media and such), they will continue to undercut each other in the hopes of keeping their members working. This will continue to provide us with these, boiled down lowest common denominator contracts (and largely why I think performers got hosed on video games). We're already seeing a push towards "electoral college" voting out of SAG, why not push for a more House of Rep style bargaining table?

    Tricky thing is, there really isn't an easy fix. The radical in me thinks that SAG should just swallow AFTRA (and the 40,000+ members they share wont have to pay double dues), but the realist in me thinks the two really need to sit down and hash out what each will cover. It's very frustrating trying to stick up for an actor on a shaky deal, and getting little backing from the unions, getting passed back and forth on something like Cell Phone content. "Oh thats a SAG deal" "No I'm pretty sure thats AFTRA", etc.

    I just don't think that any content should be able to have both AFTRA and SAG contracts. Like Videogames, it weakens the bargaining stance. If a game has FMV than it should be SAG, if it doesn't, then it should be AFTRA, etc.