SAG + AFTRA Actor Laura Summer Sent This 12 Days Ago, About The SAG-AFTRA Merger.
I’m publishing it now. She is a professional with a solid longterm acting career; I knew her years ago in New York, from the voiceover circuit.
She wrote in, because she lives with someone who is an attorney, and who has been looking all the deeper issues over, concerning the merger. He has been translating the deeper stuff to her, such as:
1. All the stuff the actors don’t bother with because it’s too difficult to understand
2. All the stuff that actors fill in the blanks about, when they have no clue what the real reality will be, or can be..
3. Real hardcore ramifications of moving to Delaware and other such seemingly harmless notions, that actually can and probably will result in a kind of hell.
Big Kudos to Laura Summer for speaking up, and sending this in. Big thanks for doing your research. Big gratitude for putting the fate of all actors first, too, before your own personal bother about having to pay 2 dues. (Which is a big motivation, unfortunately, that is propelling many actors to vote on this merger, without either knowing anything else about it, or without really caring much about anything else. (Especially when the devil could be in the details and that devil could show up as soon as next month, and start to make an acting career a kind of hell that none of us could have bargained for.)
Here’s Laura Summers Take On The SAG-AFTRA merger.
We, Actors, love the idea of being in one big group, one tent of players.
We love the idea of all for one and one for all. In spite of that, I believe that this ill-conceived and poorly written merger plan is not the correct solution. Nor do I believe it will improve the current position of any scale SAG members and will not at all adversely effect celebrities who make their own deals and never work for scale. Please go back to the drawing board and come up with something that serves ALL us SAG members.
If you are a SAG only member post merger, you will have a 70% increase in my basic dues. They will increase from $116.00 to $198.00 annually
SAG currently a California Corporation, will become a Delaware Corporation if this merger passes! (page 20 of Merger Agreement). Why do you think they want to do that?
Because Delaware corporate laws are far more friendly to corporate leadership than California law. Management (the Board) can simply get away with more and is less accountable to the rank and file members by incorporating in Delaware. Hey, I live with a lawyer. I didn’t think about this as an important issue until I told my boyfriend of it and he told me this is a sneaky and crafty way of shielding the Board and their actions from the membership.
It is critical that our members are informed about what is going on which is why you must read the proposed CONSTITUTION AND MERGER AGREEMENT that our leadership wants you to approve.
Between the SAG and AFTRA Pension fund there is over 3 Billion dollars. The misinformation campaign under the direction of our leadership WITH OUR MONEY is a disturbing travesty of justice. YOUR PENSION IS NOT FEDERALLY protected for the full dollar amount you are supposed to collect!
The OneUnion web site implies your pension is fully protected– and it is not.
HAVE YOU ACTUALLY READ THE
–Not had it “explained,” “digested,” “prepared,” or “analyzed” for you by someone else, but actually read the words in it yourself? You should. No, I take that back; you MUST.No, it’s not fun. It’s confusing. It takes effort. It cuts into your leisure time … but it’s the blueprint for your life as a professional actor. Your career, your retirement and your medical care. And a whole bunch of people spent nine months crafting it — in SECRETThere are some interesting points in it. Did you know that:
- 1 - The new Union will CHARGE “ADMINISTRATIVE FEES” FOR HANDLING AND PAYING OUT OUR RESIDUALS, like the bank charges for your checking account. How much? Oh, they don’t say. Perhaps you were under the impression that’s what some of your dues were for. Apparently not. And just to make sure, these unspecified fees are mentioned TWO places in the new constitution. [ p. 8, Article IV (B) & p. 39, Article XI (F) ]
- 2 - NEW SAG-AFTRA OFFICERS WILL SERVE FOR 2 YEARS (LIKE NOW) BUT BOARD MEMBER TERMS WILL BE INCREASED TO 4 YEARS AS IN AFTRA. Halfway between Congress’ 2 years, and the Senate’s 6 years. [ p. 19, Article V (H) ]Except that Board elections will be every TWO years. Confused much? [ p. 17, Article V (G) (2) ]
- 3 - WORDING IN THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTION WILL ALLOW OFFICERS AND BOARD MEMBERS TO BE PAID BY THE UNION. The current SAG constitution specifically, absolutely says: ”No elective Officer or member of the Board of Directors shall receive any compensation for his or her services, or serve in any position in the Guild for which he or she is compensated.” However, the current AFTRA constitution, as of 2007, specifically allows their Board ”to determine the compensation of any officer or other person performing services for the Association.” Rather like Congress determines its own compensation. (Interesting note: did you know that for the past year Roberta Reardon has received $3,500 per month “stipend” plus expenses from AFTRA — over $45K so far — specifically for working on this merger? http://www.radio-info.com/
news/aftra-will-pay-roberta- reardon-for-her-merger-work)Here is the pertinent section of the new constitution — in its entirety: [ p. 30, Article VIII (H) ]“No employee working for the Union shall be eligible to serve as a National Officer, a member of the National Board, Local Board, Wages and Working Conditions Committee, Negotiating Committee or delegate to the Convention … provided, however, that the National Board may establish policies and procedures defining who shall be considered a Union employee for purposes of this provision.”
In SAG we have employees (staff) and we have members. They’re kind of hard to confuse. Ever seen an employee who was also a working actor — much less an officer or Board member? So why does the Board need to be able to define what an employee is?
Let’s boil it down — what exactly ARE the specific “purposes of this provision”? Good question. It’s NOT EVEN HINTED AT. Legal advisors say what this provision will allow is for officers and Board members to be paid — as long as they declare themselves to not be “employees.”
- 4 - AFTER MEMBERS VOTE IT INTO EXISTENCE, THE NEW CONSTITUTION CAN BE CHANGED BY THE NATIONAL CONVENTION WITHOUT A MEMBER VOTE.
[ p. 44, Article XVIII (A) (1) ] - 5 - THE BOARD AND NATIONAL CONVENTION CAN INSTITUTE A MERGER WITH ANOTHER UNION (OR “ORGANIZATION”) WITHOUT A MEMBER VOTE.[ p. 47, Article XXI (D) ]Under the new constitution, future mergers could be approved by a 60% vote of the delegates instead of the current direct vote of members. Currently, all the seats on the negotiating committees are based on Division/Local earnings. The new constitution will simply allow the President to choose members with National Board approval. The new constitution states the following:D. The Union may merge with or become a part of any other organization by resolution of the National Board that is approved by either (1) sixty percent (60%) of the members in good standing voting in a mail or electronic
ballot; or (2) sixty percent (60%) of the delegates voting at a Convention. A merger, affiliation or consolidation with another entity shall not be considered a dissolution under this Article.” (Constitution Article XXI, D, pg 47) This takes away our vote!
- 6 - THE NATIONAL BOARD’S POWERS INCLUDE BEING ABLE TO DO LOTS OF OTHER THINGS WITHOUT A MEMBER VOTE.
“Interpret the Constitution” – regardless of the words in the document or the original intent, the Board can decide what it really means
“Determine the obligations of the members” – in regard to what? UNSPECIFIED; could be financial, political, social. At any time the Board can change what criteria you must meet in order to become — or remain — a member.
“Approve collective bargaining agreements” – obviously for decisions this important mere members can’t be trusted to make them.
“Delegate its authority” – to whom? UNSPECIFIED.It could be a single individual, like the EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT or NATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, or even an OUTSIDE CONSULTANT.All these Board powers (and many more) are listed on pp. 10 & 11, Article V (C)YES, I know this is boring, stultifying stuff — but it’s deadly important, and there’s so much more. Protect yourselves. Learn what’s going on.
ANYTHING ABOUT THIS STUFF, NOT EVEN MINE.
– READ THE DOCS AND SEE FOR YOURSELF.
TO BE RUSHED INTO THIS WITH SO MANY
QUESTIONS DELIBERATELY AND WILLFULLY IGNORED.
Meanwhile, keep asking yourselves why. Why are they trying to jam this vote down our throats so fast when there will no new theatrical contracts negotiated until 2014?Why are they not disclosing what will happen to our money – our pension money – and our health plans? Why are we only told everything will be taken care of after the merger? Why do they want to change the state of incorporation from California to Delaware? Why do they want to weaken the power in Hollywood, which is what the new Constitution does?
On a personal note, SAG-AFTRA conceded to me in response to my emailed question to them about the future of my P & H ”the merged union will have a fiduciary duty to act on behalf of “all members” when restructuring the benefits plan and since a huge percentage of those members will be former AFTRA members who were never in SAG, just whose interests will be best served by the new plan?GUESS whose interests WON’T be protected? Oh, they will come up with a new plan and when it stinks they will tell you “Trust us, it’s the best we can get”. (Gee, you folks couldn’t take the time to figure out a sound means of combining our P/H plans or addressing the discrepancies in residual pay between the contracts- yet you thought it was perfectly acceptable to start paying yourselves? I suppose that is where all the new dues money I would be paying will go).Friends, there are too many incredibly important questions that are simply unanswered. If the vote passes it will be too late to fix the problems we will only find out about after the vote. The whole thing is backwards. Remember too, the leadership has the money and they are they are running a great campaign to get your vote without really telling you why. They keep pounding us with the scare tactic that this is the only way to save SAG. Really? This is like jumping from a ship with maybe a few leaks to the Titanic! They’re not wasting any time or any of OUR money taking us to the bottom. Honestly, does anyone think that the merged union is really going to do better for us than what AFTRA has done for its membership? This has become the tail waging the dog. SAG should be leading the way on a merger with AFTRA but the awful truth is that AFTRA is in charge and we know how they have given in on every possible issue with producers in past negotiations.
(Who can forget Ken Howard announcing merger was a done deal during the SAG awards!) Had you voted yet? By the way, did you know that it recently came out that Ken Howard headed the committee that voted not to pay ANY pay residuals for the first 12 Runs on TV Land! Is this is the kind of tough ”Leadership” we can expect for our pro merger union board in the future. Tell them ”No, thank you!!!!
But in spite of their access to our money to finance this campaign we can stop them and Vote No. Please send them back to the table to make a better merger plan. This one stinks!
—-Written by Laura Summers