SUMMARY: Today it came to light that SAG asked AFTRA to delay asking its membership to ratify the new deal with the AMPTP until after SAG reaches a deal, too. But AFTRA refused and threatened legal action in an unnecesaarily nasty letter in response. Yeah this is really going nowhere fast: I say, if AFTRA wants its lousy deal with the AMPTP, then let its members either ratify it or vote it down. And believe me, it’s a really lousy deal. (But note to AFTRA: don’t pull that bullshit you did with the TV network code where a “yes” vote approves, but a “no” vote rejects and simultaneously authorizes the National Board to call a strike. That was disgustingly manipulative.)

Monday’s big SAG Solidarity Rally to show support for the guild’s TV/theatrical contract is going on as planned 10 am-noon at the Screen Actors Guild National Headquarters. (Validated parking will be provided in the lot behind the building.) And SAG is holding a Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday June 11th at 7 PM-9:30 PM for members to receive updates on the current status of the contract negotiations and participate in a question and answer session with SAG President Alan Rosenberg and National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Doug Allen. It will be held at Harmony Gold Preview House, 7655 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles. (Bring SAG membership card paid thru May 2008 for admittance. Parents/guardians of SAG members under 18-years old may attend with the minor. Parking is available in rear and street parking. Below are today’s statements: 

From SAG’s Doug Allen:

Los Angeles, Jun. 7, 2008 — “Screen Actors Guild hand-delivered to AFTRA a written request on June 5, asking that AFTRA delay conducting a ratification vote in order to allow SAG the opportunity to successfully complete its negotiations.

“Screen Actors Guild also offered to propose to the AMPTP that any improvements Screen Actors Guild thereafter negotiates would be offered to AFTRA without further negotiation.

“SAG requested that AFTRA’s national board, which met Friday and Saturday, respond to the request.

“We have received the response of AFTRA’s national board which declined to provide SAG with the opportunity to increase our leverage to further improve upon the tentative deal and to help ensure that actors get the best possible terms and conditions.

“SAG has completed our analysis of the AFTRA deal. We have discussed that analysis with our committee and elected leadership.  We will be communicating the results of that analysis to our membership to inform  SAG members about the potential impact of the AFTRA deal on our negotiations and consequently on our effort to secure the best possible contract for actors.

“We have put out a call to our membership to attend a solidarity rally to show support for their fellow actors, the Guild and the negotiating committee’s efforts to ensure a fair contract for actors. The rally will take place at  Screen Actors Guild national headquarters Monday, June 9, at 10 a.m.”

Here was AFTRA’s June 6th response:

“We are writing to confirm receipt of your letter dated June 5, 2008, and to assure you that it received full consideration by the AFTRA National Board.The AFTRA Board today overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement we reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on May 28 regarding a new primetime television contract. Pursuant to the AFTRA constitution and bylaws, we will soon be sending the Exhibit A agreement to our members for ratification and we expect that results will be announced on or about July 7.

“In our view, delaying this process would not be in the best interest of our members. Nor do we believe there is anything about AFTRA’s ratification process that would “distract” either SAG or the industry from good faith negotiations, or in any way be “interfering” with the guild’s negotiations with the AMPTP. In any event, given our timeline, by the time the results of our ratification vote are announced, SAG will have been back at the table with the employers for more than five weeks. We believe this provides sufficient time to allow SAG and the AMPTP to focus on negotiations and hopefully reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion.

“We are reserving judgment about the accuracy of statements that SAG elected leaders and staff intend to undermine the merits of our members’ tentative agreement and disrupt our ratification process. Such unprecedented interference in the internal affairs of another union is the antithesis of good unionism. We expect that if SAG really is concerned about improving wages and working conditions for performers in the entertainment industry, its efforts and resources will be directed towards negotiating a
good agreement for SAG members, not to attempting to undo our efforts to serve AFTRA members. We hope it will not be necessary to pursue legal remedies, but be aware that we would view any attempt by SAG or its leadership to undermine or interfere with our ratification process as a violation of both the law and the AFL-CIO Constitution.

“Our Negotiating Committee and National Board members are extremely proud of the primetime agreement we reached with the AMPTP—under very trying circumstances. Like the agreements reached earlier this year by both the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild, our agreement was based on extensive research and reflected our recognition of the many challenges, technological and otherwise, our members and the industry face today. We are proud to have achieved major wage gains for “middle class” performers and to have preserved performers’ basic rights.

“The elected leadership and staff of AFTRA wish you well in your talks with the AMPTP. As everyone in the labor community recognizes, a victory for one union is a victory for all organized labor.”

In solidarity,
Kim Roberts Hedgpeth Roberta Reardon
National Executive Director National President