Today SAG president Alan Rosenberg hand-delivered this letter to AFTRA’s national office in Los Angeles for his counterpart at AFTRA, Roberta Reardon, asking to hold a 2-hour official SAG-AFTRA debate. I’m all for it — as long as there’s a wrestling ring, gooey mud, and blind referees. Unfortunately for me, Reardon turned down the offer:
In light of the fact that SAG and AFTRA members are receiving conflicting information regarding the tentative AFTRA agreement and its impact on SAG’s ongoing negotiations, we believe it would be informative and productive to hold an official SAG/AFTRA debate as soon as possible.
I am specifically requesting that we schedule a joint membership meeting over the next week for members in Los Angeles, at which we discuss and debate the facts. I hope you agree that it would be productive for members to hear directly from both of their unions.
SAG welcomes the opportunity to have a full and frank discussion with our members present. We are proposing a 2-hour event, with you, Matt Kimbrough, David Jolliffe and me. We would agree on a moderator, perhaps someone from the Los Angels County Federation of Labor or the Department of Professional Employees (DPE) would be appropriate.
Please let me know as soon as possible if you agree that a timely debate focused on issues and actors, not personalities or institutions, is worthwhile, and what dates and times work for AFTRA.
And Roberta Reardon answered back:
I received your letter today inviting AFTRA to participate in a “2-hour event” with the Screen Actors Guild, where we would “debate” the terms and conditions of the tentative AFTRA primetime television agreement. The alleged impetus for this invitation is SAG Hollywood leadership’s belief that our respective members may be receiving “conflicting information” and that the AFTRA agreement is having an “impact on SAG’s ongoing negotiations.”
As you are aware, the AFTRA National Board overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement we reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and we are currently in the ratification process. AFTRA does not believe there is anything about this process that is distracting either SAG or the industry from good faith negotiations, nor do we believe that it has any impact on the ongoing talks. Further, we feel your request is somewhat disingenuous as a public debate would have no real practical purpose. All it would do is contribute to the destructive and divisive efforts of the last year instigated by the guild’s Hollywood leadership.
What is distracting and confusing for our members – and frankly, many in the entertainment industry – are SAG’s efforts to interfere with AFTRA’s ratification process. SAG’s misguided rhetoric and theatrics – holding rallies, town hall meetings, and the distribution of misinformation about the AFTRA contract – are certainly not serving the best interests of performers.
AFTRA, like the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild before it, has negotiated a solid agreement that delivers substantial improvements in wages and working conditions for all of our members.
We are proud of the deal and those who were directly involved with the negotiations are
educating AFTRA members about the merits of the Exhibit A contract. Given all of this, we decline your invitation.
As a fellow labor leader and a dues-paying SAG member, I urge SAG to focus solely on its own negotiations, rather than wasting the time, energy and resources trying to undermine the new AFTRA contract.