Is this the proof that AFTRA’s stated reason for pulling out of joint negotiations with SAG (because SAG tried to poach the B&B cast from AFTRA) was just b.s.? The SAG/AFTRA members who slipped me this letter sure think so:
From: Susan Flannery of THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
Re: Statement of events leading up to AFTRA leaving Phase 1 and excluding itself from joint negotiations with SAG (Per Ms Flannery’s instructions, this letter is to be distributed to the SAG National Board.)
To the members of SAG:
LET’S SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT!
“NO CAST MEMBER OF THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL HAS BEEN SOLICITED BY ANY DIRECTOR OR ELECTED OFFICER OF SAG TO LEAVE AFTRA AND JOIN THEM…… PERIOD”
The sequence of events is as follows. Shortly after the first cast discussions of leaving AFTRA, Bill Thomas and David Basbaris (AFTRA) called me & asked if there was any substance to rumors of a petition for decertification. There was NO PETITION since we didn’t even know we required to have one. Talk about being “Babes in the Woods”. I explained to Bill and David that we were only in the early stages of discussions. I gave them my word of honor that we would meet with AFTRA before any final decisions were made.
David and I have a long union relationship, so I felt comfortable that he would take me at my word. I also informed them that we would meet with SAG. There were 3 or 4 phone calls over the next 2 weeks between us about these matters, including a request for a copy of the contract between AFTRA and B& B and setting a meeting with AFTRA. The cast subsequently did in fact meet over 2 evenings with Roberta Reardon and Kim Roberts Hedgepath.
Just so everyone understands, the idea of exploring the possibility for a new ‘Collective Bargaining Agent” began with me. There has been over the past 21 years at B&B a growing dissatisfaction with AFTRA regarding health plans, residuals, pensions, meal penalties, turnarounds etc. In the final analysis, the contracts negotiated on our behalf over the years, in our opinion, have fallen very short of our expectations!
Because we still live in a democracy, and have choices, more internal meetings with the cast took place, and the decision to begin exploratory conversations to seek a different Collective Bargaining Agent began in earnest. As members in good standing with Screen Actors Guild, my co-star (of 21 years) John MCCook and I met with SAG National Director Doug Allen & SAG President Allen Rosenberg to ask what our options were. We did not, as has been reported, complain bitterly about AFTRA. We only wanted to know if it were possible for SAG to take us into the fold. However, reality quickly interverned. Doug informed us and rightly so, that any complaints we had regarding AFTRA should be brought to their attention by us.
We acknowledged that, and informed him that we were in the process of setting up meetings with AFTRA for just that purpose.
However, we were already in our minds beyond that point. We never approached this issue out of anger, we simply felt we needed, in the larger view of things, a more focused, stronger, and realistic approach to the changing world of television, and the industry as a whole as it is affected by new media.
Now to the issue of who is truly putting the brakes on our ability to pick the union we choose to represent us. THE AFL-CIO and their part in all of this. According to the AFL-CIO, there is a “side bar” agreement that prevents a group of union workers in good standing from leaving one union and going to another without suffering a 2-year suspension (waiting period) before their union of choice can accept them. Talk about an ANTI-UNION clause! This agreement withholds from union members the protection of a union shop and collective bargaining agent of their choice….. in this case, SAG.
When was this agreed to? When was this issued and why? Why would anyone vote to support, and or accept this concept? A cooling off period ? The National Labor Relations Board and their 42-day waiting period provide that caveat… 42 days to cool off and re-think, before making a final decision to decertify. So we have to ask? What is the real agenda for the AFL-CIO in imposing that 2 yr waiting period? Does this not create a genuine hardship for union members? Has this, among other issues, created an atmosphere and perception amongst union workers that they are not best served by the AFL-CIO?
It seems that as movements continue to grow, the institution becomes more important then the members it represents. Is that what we and other unions affiliated with them are experiencing with the AFL-CIO? I called John Sweeny in Washington DC twice to discuss this rule or regulation and even to plead for a waiver, and he has yet to extend the courtesy of a phone call.
It is time to accomplish something positive and meaningful for the working actor in their affliations with Labor Organizations. “Freedom of Choice” is a good beginning. Who we choose to represent us, and our best interests, should be up to us!
Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.