In a startling development, SAG’s new leadership used the Guild’s membership list to slam the “Vote No” contingent for “tricking” actors. This, after the SAG agreed that neither the guild nor its new high-priced PR firm would attack any members who campaigned against the contract. And this, after SAG staff and legal vetted the “Vote No” contingent’s Con statement included in the ballot package. The smear email was sent by the SAG National Majority, which consists of the coalition between most of the NY Division, Regional Branches and Unite For Strength which recently took over leadership of the guild. Several board members tell me the email was written by NY Division head Sam Freed and Unite For Strength leader Ned Vaughn and approved by Interim National Executive Director David White and the PR firm they newly hired, Saylor & Company. (Mark Saylor denied any involvement to me today.) Not only is this email inappropriate, it is inflammatory. It should be retracted.
Below are the offensive parts of the smear email, following by a “Vote No” reaction, followed by SAG’s response to my query:
“Don’t Be Tricked Into Voting Against The TV/Theatrical Contract
“Some members are trying to take our union down and continue to circulate misinformation about our tentative agreement. Don’t be fooled… So, when you see negative attacks launched by the opponents of this deal, ask them: What’s the alternative? They won’t give an answer, because they don’t have one. SAG’s National Board majority knows what the alternative to a YES vote means.”
Anne-Marie Johnson, SAG’s 1st vice president, chairman of the Hollywood Board, and a “Vote No” campaigner, sent SAG an email denouncing the SAG National Majority’s smear campaign:
“Well, I hope you all feel really proud of yourselves on this Memorial Day weekend. ‘Tricked’, ‘take our union down’, ‘would like you to believe that they have a plan’…
“When I first received this email I was angry and confused. I couldn’t figure out how on earth the AMPTP got my personal email address. But then I realized that it was from MY union. Well, at least we can finally see what you are paying Saylor to do. But I thought staff assured the the elected that Saylor was not hired to deal with the contract campaign and that they would certainly not be used to attack our own membership. That they were hired to work on re-shaping the image of SAG. Good beginning at the re- shaping. How’s that working for you?
“I pray to god Pamm Fair isn’t responsible for this. Or Pamela Greenwalt. I had hoped these two would have more integrity than that. I can only assume that this is the work of Saylor.
“Why didn’t any of you sign this message? Why didn’t David White put his name to this piece of work? I think the answer is obvious. I’m certain the AMPTP will be sending the Guild their thanks and appreciation for saving them thousands and thousands of dollars. Now they won’t have to take out any ads in the trades. You did all the heavy lifting for them. In more ways than one.”
When I asked why SAG was smearing some of its members in this official email, Pam Greenwalt, SAG communications executive director, responded with this guild statement:
“Screen Actors Guild communicated with our members at the request of National Board leaders who felt strongly that certain critics of the tentative agreement continue to make misleading statements about the agreement. We have always believed that when there is an honest debate about the substance of the agreement and the realities of the current economy and state of the industry, our members will ratify the contract recommended by the SAG National Board. The Guild’s staff has been directed to support the ratification effort, to ensure the accuracy of information distributed to our members about the tentative agreement, and to identify and correct misleading statements, which is what we will continue to do throughout the life of this contract campaign.”