The two opposing SAG slates face off again: here is Membership First’s Keith Carradine letter to members, followed by Unite For Strength’s Ken Howard response:

From MF’s Keith Carradine:

Vote MembershipFirst!
This is a business and if we are to survive we must think like good businessmen and women.

There is ONLY ONE MERGER that makes sense – all actors should be under one roof in the Screen Actors Guild.

‘Unite for Strength’ wants a merger which would promote AFTRA to a full 50/50 partnership even though AFTRA covers only 5% of primetime scripted television, 3% of TV commercials and 0% of theatrical motion pictures.

‘Unite for Strength’ wants a merger which would promote AFTRA to a full 50/50 partnership even though AFTRA believes that actors should earn LESS  – and in some cases NOTHING – sacrificing our livelihood in order to “organize”.

Our junior partner – AFTRA – has signed a deal that gives away ‘new media’ with no residuals and no guaranteed union jurisdiction for made-for-internet and new media projects.

Our junior partner – AFTRA – continues to undercut S.A.G. contracts, cutting deals for basic cable scripted programs that have lower minimums than S.A.G. and “residual-free” reruns.

There is NO BUSINESS in the world that would promote a junior partner who is responsible for making the company LOSE MONEY.

Yet that is exactly what ‘Unite for Strength’ is advocating.

There are no stockholders in the world that would put up with this.

You are receiving this because you are a member of the Hollywood Division of S.A.G.- and you are a prime stockholder.

S.A.G. is not some experimental ‘start-up’.  We’ve just celebrated our 75th anniversary.

S.A.G. has over $33 million dollars in cash reserves, up over 150% since 2005 (the first year MembershipFirst won a majority of seats on the National Board.)

S.A.G. covers over 95% of every primetime scripted TV show, 97% of every TV commercial and 100% of every film that employs professional actors.

S.A.G. is the last hope for residuals and guaranteed jurisdiction in ‘new media’, which will become the number one delivery system for scripted entertainment, replacing television and DVD’s.  (Please read the Contract Bulletin recently mailed to you from the Guild.  See what AFTRA gave away and what S.A.G. is fighting to keep.)

And yet…”Unite for Strength’ wants to put an end to the Screen Actors Guild and start a brand new union.  They say this will give us more “leverage”.  But how will we get “leverage” from our new partners at AFTRA who insist that unions must lower the standard of living for actors?

Make no mistake – “Unite for Strength” has no intention of taking a strong stand against AFTRA in the new “merged” union.  In fact, they are unapologetically PRO-AFTRA.  They’ve said nothing about AFTRA’s undercutting of S.A.G.’s contracts or AFTRA’s deleveraging of S.A.G.’s negotiations (by making a separate deal with the AMPTP.)

And yet they’re highly critical of S.A.G. leaders who have dared to criticize AFTRA!

“Unite for Strength” candidates make anti-S.A.G statements even though they’ve never served on a single S.A.G. Board.  Their ONLY union Board experience is on the National Board of AFTRA!

In S.A.G.’s long history there has always been a battle between those who want to secure a decent livelihood for actors and those who don’t want to “make waves.”

Thank heaven the “wave-makers” usually win.  Without them, there would be no pension plan, or health plan (currently the greatest in the industry), no residuals, none of the current wages and working conditions (which are the envy of every other performer’s union.)

I’m a candidate with MembershipFirst and they have my full support – they’ve only had a majority on S.A.G.’s National Board for 3 short years but they’ve accomplished a great deal.

Most importantly, they’re fighting to save 75 years of gains that benefit you and every other working actor.

Please vote for all 33 MembershipFirst candidates – it’s the only way to insure that S.A.G. will be celebrating a 76th Anniversary next year.


From U4S member Ken Howard:

Fellow SAG members,
You’ve been getting a lot of campaign email, but this is one you really should read because it’s about how your dues are being spent – or rather, misspent. And it’s about some pretty fuzzy math coming from Keith Carradine.

First your dues: SAG leadership just spent well over $100,000 of our dues on a “special bulletin” describing how bad the AMPTP’s current contract offer is – and then asking us whether they should negotiate better terms. The answer is obvious. Of course they should. So why ask?

Is it because the leadership doubts they can negotiate any improvements?

Or is this just an excuse to use our dues money for a 12-page campaign advertisement praising the leadership for “fighting hard” and trying to persuade us to re-elect Membership First board members (who currently control SAG)? Maybe that’s why the update was timed to arrive in your mailbox during the election and was proposed and approved by board members belonging to Membership First.

But unfortunately for them, the mailer also spotlights exactly why we need to elect new leadership. For over two months we’ve been forced to work under an expired contract, costing us millions of dollars. But despite claiming months ago that they were just “hours away” from a deal, SAG leaders still haven’t negotiated a contract that’s any better than the deal signed by AFTRA in June.

The mailer calls that “progress,” but when AFTRA’s deal was being voted on, SAG leaders spent another $100,000+ of our dues money trying to convince us how awful it was.

The last thing we need now is an expensive and meaningless poll asking whether we want to accept what’s on the table “without modification” or hold out for a “fair”  deal. As Back Stage says, that’s “kind of like asking the kids if they’d rather go out for frosty chocolate milkshakes or stay home and count the ceiling tiles”.

What we DO need from SAG leaders is for them to explain how they’re going to strengthen SAG’s hand in this and future contract negotiations. And one thing’s for sure – more fighting with AFTRA won’t help. I’m running for the SAG Board with the other Unite for Strength candidates because we know that getting the best contracts requires REAL leverage — the kind we’ll get from bringing ALL media performers into one powerful union.

Membership First attacked this obvious solution in a recent email from Keith Carradine, arguing that uniting with AFTRA would weaken SAG by “promoting AFTRA to a full 50/50 partnership.” This flies in the face of simple math: SAG members would make up 82% of a merged union.

We can’t afford to let emotion drive us to division and weakness any longer.
It’s time for new leadership. Please vote to Unite for Strength.