On Tuesday, the Screen Actors Guild is scheduled to release the official list of candidates for the upcoming election now that the nominating period has closed and the Election Committees have confirmed candidate eligibility. Approximately, 1/3 of the total 69 national board seats are open for election this year. Hollywood and New York Division ballots will be mailed to all eligible SAG members on August 19 with a return deadline and tabulation on September 18. Election results are expected to be announced that evening. The Hollywood Division will elect 11 national board members and 22 alternates. Each seat is for a 3-year term (all national board alternates serve one year). The New York Division will elect 5 national board members and 9 alternates. Each of those seats is for a 3-year term (all national board alternates serve one year). Directors holding 7 other national board seats will be elected from SAG branches in Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Nashville, Nevada and Washington, D.C./Baltimore.
There appears to be some general misconceptions about how this election will, or will not, affect the current SAG-AMPTP negotiations. It might appear that the AMPTP is hoping for a significant shift in the SAG board and therefore stalling the contract talks on the off chance the election might result in a less militant and more compliant group of actor leaders. But that’s impossible. Because SAG rules dictate that, regardless of whichever slate is voted in, the guild’s negotiating team stays the same and in charge of the talks until the new contract is bargained. So the board may change but not the negotiating team. Besides, the first meeting of the new board elected September 18th isn’t until October.
Now that’s clear, I’d like to make sure SAG members see the campaign statements I’ve posted for “Unite For Strength” here and “MembershipFirst” here. Meanwhile, I commend the “Unite For Strength” opposition slate for not letting what will obviously be a hard-fought campaign take precedence over the importance of the current SAG-AMPTP negotiations still underway. I know that the Big Media moguls and their negotiating lackeys were hoping for a repeat of the actor vs actor war that broke out between SAG and AFTRA and caused division and diversion. Instead, the employers were shocked when “Unite For Strength” recently came out in support of the SAG negotiating committee’s stand on the all-important issue of New Media jurisdiction and residuals. If you missed it, “Unite For Strength” said on its website:
“Unite for Strength fully supports the recent SAG board motion reasserting SAG’s commitment to the core principle that it does not authorize our employers to make non-union product under our contracts, regardless of the medium or budget level. We believe SAG needs new leadership, but we also agree with SAG’s negotiators that actors need real gains from a new contract. We agree that the original goals of our TV/Theatrical contract negotiators — such as pay and mileage increases, increased pension and health contributions, residuals on new media, protection from product integration abuses, increased DVD residuals and preservation of Force Majeure protections — represent gains all actors deserve. Unite for Strength believes actors should have all those protections and more. We support our families with SAG earnings, so getting the strongest deal for actors is our top priority. And we know our current negotiating team feels the same way. But because SAG is alone at the bargaining table, we have less leverage. That’s what Unite for Strength has pledged to fix.”
Not surprisingly, the “Unite For Strength” slate continues receiving a lot of publicity in the mainstream media. On Friday, CNBC’s “The Call” interviewed one of its leaders, Ned Vaughn. Here’s the YouTube video and below is the transcript. Notice how her questions are pointedly biased against SAG negotiators:
CNBC’s JULIA BOORSTIN: What is the organization’s big picture goal when it comes to this current de facto stoppage?
NED VAUGHN: Well, a big part of the reason that we have not been able to make a deal with the producers is that SAG does not have the leverage that it would have if we would combine with AFTRA, the other actors union, and get real leverage at the bargaining table. We feel that is critical. With that kind of leverage, we could make the deal we need.
BOORSTIN: So is your organization ready to accept the AMPTP’s offer and get back to work?
VAUGHN: Well, we’re not in a negotiating room. So we’re not privy to the exact details of the offer that’s on the table. And more to the point, we know that what we have to get is cooperation between these two unions to get the kind of deal that actors need. I can’t really say whether we would accept that contractment again. We don’t know the exact details.
BOORSTIN: Now the [AMPTP] has been incredibly vocal about how much SAG’s holdout is costing both SAG members and the industry as a whole. How is your group pushing to avoid these costs to everyone?
VAUGHN: Well, listen, I mean obviously we want to keep people working. But it’s critical to us because we make our living as actors that actors get a fair and strong deal. And that’s what we’re all about. You know, it’s by getting real leverage against our employers who are very unified on their side of the bargaining table by coming together on our side or
get that leverage that we can negotiate from a position of strength and make a deal that will keep everybody working.
BOORSTIN: So the studios are now talking about ramping up production to get back to business after Labor Day even if there is no contract. What does this do to the role of SAG? Will this help out AFTRA actors because they can get roles that SAG members are getting?
VAUGHN: You are putting your finger on something very important. Because the unions have gone to the breaking point with this feud and are now negotiating separately. They’re not only negotiating separately, they’re starting to compete. I don’t have to tell this audience what happens when people compete. Prices go down. That’s something we cannot afford to have happen to actors. It’s a tough way to make a living in the first place. A lot tougher if you’re not getting a good, solid deal. And that is why we feel we can produce.