SAG’s 1st Vice President Anne-Marie Johnson has issued this statement 50 days before the TV/Theatical Negotiations start with the AMPTP, whose Big Media members just reported bigger profits this past quarter and better forecasts for the rest of 2010 and also 2011. (Every Studio & Network Boosted Earnings):

Hello Hollywood Members;

Well, SAG and AFTRA have completed the Wages and Working Condition meetings and caucuses. We are now about to enter the next phase before beginning formal negotiations on September 27th. Members of both SAG and AFTRA W&W committees will meet in a national plenary to go over the proposal package voted up unanimously on the last day of our joint w&w meetings. Negotiations are going to be a challenge. Especially considering the offer received and ultimately approved by the Teamsters. Is it a 2% world? Who knows. But SAG and AFTRA will do their best not be distracted by other unions’ issues and put the livelihood and security of our members, with our very unique needs, first.

As many of you have seen in press releases and in the media, AFTRA and SAG both created Presidents Forum to begin a serious dialogue regarding merger. And as many of you know, I’ve always believed that any official dialogue regarding merger, in the midst of negotiations, is too soon and a distraction. I believe both unions should look at our current joint negotiations as a litmus test for what could be the first step to eventually merger and place all of our collective energies towards working together to secure a contract that will provide both SAG and AFTRA members the opportunity to qualify for health care and support a family. But both unions have decided to move forward with regard to merger and it is now up to us, the member, to get involved with all phases of what will be a very long complicated process. Only with SAG membership involvement will SAG, the institution, be able to shape what kind of union will serve our members with the strength and advantages SAG members have experienced for the last 77 years.

Although there are wonderful SAG events coming up in the next few weeks, I for one, can only really concentrate on our negotiations. Not only will SAG be negotiating our TV/Theatrical contract, we are also facing our Basic Cable Live Action and Animation negotiations. All to be negotiated in the next coming months. SAG members are facing some of the most difficult times this union has faced in decades. This year may be the first time we’ve had so many members not qualify for health insurance, due to lack of SAG covered work, since the inception of our Pension and Health plans in 1960. With regard to my own career, I can’t think of anything else. Qualifying has become my main goal. This is the first year I’ve taken full advantage of my health insurance and I cannot tell you how blessed I felt. I’ve never taken the fact that I’ve been fortunate to qualify for some level of coverage each year, for granted. One of the reasons why I’ve volunteered 12 years to SAG committee and board involvement is because I’ve been so fortunate and wanted, no, needed to give back.

I hope your July 4th was filled with fun, good health and remembrance. I wish you the best during the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Take advantage of the time off. It’s well deserved. But let’s all be well rested, ready and determined to take on the many career/union challenges coming our way.

Anne-Marie Johnson
SAG 1st Vice President