More SAG election candidate statements: Unite For Strength’s Amy Brenneman responds to Martin Sheen (supporting MF), and Membership First’s David Jolliffe replies to Mike Farrell (supporting U4S):

Before you vote, consider this:
Membership First is lying; Unite for Strength has the SAME position on members’ voting rights as they do.

In an email from Martin Sheen introduced by JoBeth Williams, Membership First has tried to frighten voters away from Unite for Strength by claiming that we plan to take away members’ voting rights. This is absolutely false – and Membership First knows it.
Early this year, some of us asked the board to consider limiting voting on the TV/Theatrical contract to members who worked an average of one day per year under that contract. Over 1500 members signed a petition of support, and even Membership First candidates Clancy Brown and Jo Beth herself agreed with the idea.
But from the start of our campaign we’ve made it clear that this proposal was not part of Unite for Strength’s platform because we recognized that nothing matters more than bringing our unions together. And to eliminate any doubt, we even made a public pledge that if we’re elected we will take no action to limit the voting rights of any SAG member. We can’t state our position any more clearly than that.

The real choice in this election is whether you want SAG and AFTRA to fight for us together, or continue fighting each other.

Membership First is obsessively focusing on the empty “voting rights” charge because they’re stuck; they just can’t explain how their battle with AFTRA will give actors more power at the bargaining table. Everyone understands that competition between our two unions makes it harder to get fair pay for our work. In the years Membership First has controlled SAG, they’ve done nothing but lash out at AFTRA and it hasn’t done us any good at all. More of their leadership will just bring more competition, making things even worse.
We know that one union representing all performers is the better strategy.
That’s why unions exist in the first place – to unite for strength.

Re: Latest From Mike Farrell

Well, as usual Mike is out with another letter filled with untruths, obfuscation and name calling. With no real solution on how to get a good deal for actors NOW.

Mike gets it wrong, right off the bat by saying Doug Allen “was hired by a small faction now in control of our union”.

Mike… Doug’s hiring was approved by the entire SAG National Board, UNANIMOUSLY.

Then Mike defaults to name calling. Calling MembershipFirst “Agent Haters”. Well, I for one was married to one of the top agents in this town and still love her dearly. I have nothing but the utmost respect for those that represent us.

What Mike is referring to is the attempt back in 1999 and 2002 by SAG’s then leadership to allow our agents to be owned by studios. A complete and blatant conflict of interest. First by a waiver that would have allowed agents to be solely owned (100%) by any and all production entities. This attempt was narrowly defeated in the boardroom (52-48) by those same “crazies” Mike refers to throughout his diatribe. Then another attempt by Mike himself who championed a deal that would have also allowed agents to be owned by studios and/or production entities. An attempt that was defeated in referendum by the membership (not those “crazies) of SAG by a margin of 55% to 45%.

Then Mike goes off on the 2000 commercial strike, again placing blame on those same “crazies” in Hollywood. What Mike fails to recognize is that the strike, as well as the proposal package, was voted up UNANIMOUSLY by both the SAG’s and AFTRA’s National Boards. (Some 220 to 0 – For the first time in joint history)

The Joint Commercial Negotiating Committee, (made-up 50-50 SAG and AFTRA) was polled throughout the entire process. Those votes to go on strike and stay on strike were ALL UNANIMOUS.

I know – I was there. I was the SAG Chair of those negotiations.

Mike goes on to claim that hundreds of millions of dollars were lost. What Mike fails to admit is that the Commercials Contract was worth $550 million in 2000 and is worth $800 million today. And Mike readily admits that he wasn’t around much. If he was, he would have understood that commercial actors couldn’t make a living in 2000 because of the poor cable residuals formula. (A formula that was increased 140% in that one/single negotiation.) And that the advertisers were adamant in taking away Class-A network residuals.

The 2000 Commercial strike garnered:
— The largest single increase in our unions history – 140% increase in cable residuals.
— Internet jurisdiction
— Protection of Class-A residuals
— Increases in the P&H contribution
— An added $1 million per year for monitoring commercials

And I take personal offense when someone like Mike Farrell (who wasn’t there) makes a claim that “instigators grudgingly got out of the way” to “let the adults resolve the strike”. Who were these “adults”? No personnel nor committee member changed throughout the entire strike. We all did it together. I told you… The votes were always unanimous.

Then Mike blames MembershipFirst for the defeat of the AIMA Plan. Hey Mike… There was no MembershipFirst then!

There was a group called SAVESAG. Who made their case against the plan and enough of the membership agreed with them to defeat that plan. The MEMBERSHIP, Mike. Not some clandestine group of “crazies”.

As far as “paying off (staff) contracts at huge expense”… Weren’t YOU in charge when Pissano was “paid off”?

Mike claims that MembershipFirst has “spent the union into debt”. Again… NOT TRUE! SAG has on hand some $33 million in cash and cash equivalents. Up some $13 million from when Mike was a 1st VP. All three years MembershipFirst has had the majority, the union has operated with a surplus. ($3.8 million surplus for fiscal year 2006/2007. And a $4 million surplus for fiscal year 2007/2008.)

Now let’s fast-forward to these current negotiations.

Yep, Mike is absolutely right. SAG was fed-up with AFTRA having half the say in our contract negotiations. A contract where AFTRA does ZERO work in movies and 5% in Prime-Time Television. Especially in the light that they’d been on a scorched-earth campaign to decimate SAG’s cable contract by undercutting them to the extent of eliminating residuals down to 10-15 free exhibition days. We thought it only fair to have proportional representation given the facts of which union earns the overwhelming majority of the Contract. And that when AFTRA was delivered the costs for the 2000 commercials strike, they said they only did 10% of the work, therefor they were only going to pay 10% of the costs. Yep… You heard right. AFTRA insists on half the say – But when it comes to paying for that half say, they run for the hills.

Mike says that SAG was “unable to deliver what they’d long promised with tough talk”. And that it was up to “AFTRA to step in and negotiate like professionals”.

Well, let me tell you Mike, ANYBODY could have delivered the deal AFTRA took. It’s a bad deal!

Then you say that it was “an act of desperation” that SAG went out and told it’s members what a bad deal AFTRA took.

What were we supposed to do, Mike? Sit silently, knowing the deal’s bad? Sit silently thus sending a message to the AMPTP that we wouldn’t fight the deal? Sit silently, and not tell our dual members working for the exact same employers that deal was bad for actors? Because, Mike… The point you fail to address and accept is that the DEAL IS BAD!

Let’s go over the deal AFTRA calls “groundbreaking”, shall we:
— No guaranteed union jurisdiction in New Media. (This means Universal, MGM, Sony, Disney, Warner Brothers, etc. can do made for Internet productions without our members.)
— No residuals in made for New media (except in a very rare circumstance that doesn’t even exist at this time.) Both of these first two items go against SAG’s core principals established by a unanimous vote of 68 -0 by SAG’s National Board on 7-26-08. Principals that clearly state that all acting work done by our signatories must be union – And that all union acting work deserves a residual of some kind.
— No mileage increase. (We’ve had the same 30 cents a mile for nearly 30 years. Even the IRS allows for 58.5 cents.)
— No increase in home-video/DVD. With actors still paying there own P&H contribution.
— No protection for forced endorsements. Actors have no rights to say NO. (This not only harms us in TV/Theatrical, but the more commercial endorsements are embedded into TV product the more erosion we’ll see in actual commercial airings. Thus lowering the amount commercial actors will earn in reuse.)
— Elimination of the Force Majeure protections we’ve had for 60 years.
— French Hours – Meaning no actual lunch break. (Eat when you can.)
— No residuals for Stunt Coordinators
— An increase of only ONE background performer in TV.
— This deal now makes it a “condition of employment” that an actor gives up his/her right to negotiate for clip use. It is a false assumption that any journeyman actor will be able to NOT sign away these rights.
— All product produced before 1974 is sold out in New Media. If the residuals have paid-out then the actor will get NOTHING.
SAG has made many concessions in an attempt to make a deal.

SAG has tentatively agreed to much of the AMPTP New Media template. A template that when applied to actors results in things like 17/24 days of free airings on the Internet. And a residual for the next 6 months at 3% of scale. (That’s $22.77 for the day player, Mike. And a maximum residual for the series regular of just under $100.00).

I do agree with Mike that what happens here will “affect actors for a generation”. A bad deal now WILL affect us all for generations to come. We must learn from the past. We’ve seen that when a bad deal is made, it never goes away.

I wish Mike Farrell would come join us in trying to get a fair deal for actors in this negotiation.