Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Score is in For Round One: AFTRA 1; SAG in PR Trouble

Last night AFTRA announced that its new, three-year contract was ratified by 62.4% of its membership giving it the victory sought and, in the process, backing SAG leadership into corner in their own contract negotiations with producers and studios.

In its attempt to put a PR spin on the nasty, dead-on-arrival campaign undertaken by SAG to convince its members (who are also AFTRA members) to vote down this agreement, SAG President Alan Rosenberg released a statement to the press claiming a “moral (if not numerical) victory” against AFTRA. Rosenberg claims that less of the eligible voters voted for the new contract because of SAG’s high profile campaign to derail the agreement they believe isn’t in the best interests of (union) actors.

Maybe the reason the AFTRA agreement was voted in by a majority of AFTRA members is simply because a majority of AFTRA members believe it’s the right agreement for the landscape in which the business of acting currently operates?

SAG has a duel problem now, one that is rooted in a tainted image both within its own membership community and with the general public. Its divisive campaign against AFTRA pitted actor against actor in a battle that has caused far greater damage than anything positive achieved by it. It’s not that SAG waged this anti-AFTRA campaign; it’s how they did it.

So, Mr. Rosenberg, go ahead and claim a “moral” victory for your union, but what about the moral decline and confidence slip in SAG so many of your fellow members now feel because of how SAG behaved throughout this process? How do you now ask these same actors to sit (or morally stand) side-by-side to help you achieve a new SAG contract that most industry insiders now believe is unachievable because of the position you and your team have placed your union in?

My clients, like most actors, just want to the ability and the opportunity to work. They’re not necessarily “political” people, but they are all people of “morals” who, today, feel very unsatisfied, not because of the ratification of the new AFTRA contract (that most of them voted for), but because they’re uncertain how their other union can now possibly go to bat for them, as actors, when the leadership seems too concerned and too preoccupied with playing a different game that has little or nothing to do with them.

Politics and show business … neither should be entered into lightly. Usually, blending the two creates an environment where someone usually ends up paying a price. Have you seen the Dixie Chicks documentary “Shut Up and Sing?”

Your thoughts and comments on the AFTRA vote and where both unions go from here? Post on the Blog page or e-mail me at