sag_logo.jpgI’m told that the actors behind that SAG petition drive for ”affected member” voting have made what they’re calling a “significant change” in their proposal to soften its impact. As you know, DHD has been active in this debate by letting actors post their positions pro and con this idea of an earnings threshold for “qualified voting” on the union’s contract issues. Stephen CollinsAmy Brenneman and Ned Vaughn have written in favor while Ron Livingston and Frances Fisher have written in opposition. I’ve been told that the leading actors behind the petition drive have met with SAG president Alan Rosenberg about it. The new change in the proposal was outlined to supporters today in advance of the SAG National Board considering the petition this weekend. I’ve obtained the email:

“Our affected member voting proposal goes before the SAG National Board this weekend, April 12 & 13. In just four days, SAG will determine if actors’ contracts will be decided by those who work under them, or continue to be decided by those who don’t. This directly affects your livelihood, so please read on.

We’ve revised our proposal.

We recently invited over 80 visiting SAG and AFTRA board members to a reception in Century City to solicit their ideas about this concept. These reps – most from markets with far less work than Hollywood – listened with open minds and offered valuable feedback. The next day, AFTRA promised to appoint a special committee to study our affected member voting proposal. In the absence of such committee review at SAG before its vote this weekend, we’ve used input from that event, along with feedback from many other members and our own research, to revise our proposal:

We’ve adjusted the standard from 5 days to just ONE DAY of principal work per year (and/or equivalent earnings through background work or residuals) on average for the preceding 6 years. (Vested members are still included – see the full proposal at www.workingactorsvoice.com.)

This standard will include the overwhelming majority of members who work the contract, but will ensure that SAG card holders with no contract involvement – not to mention those with a direct conflict of interest – can no longer control contract decisions.

President Rosenberg’s comments:

The Wall Street Journal reported on our effort last week, and quoted SAG’s President [Alan] Rosenberg attacking us and our proposal, saying “Our board and our members will never vote for this and I wish we weren’t discussing it in any major way…To make this such a public issue at this time is meant to do nothing but weaken us.”

Over 1400 loyal SAG members – from every level of our profession and including current and past officers and board members – support this effort. To suggest that we would deliberately try to weaken the Guild as it negotiates the contract we depend on is preposterous.

With great effort and careful consideration we’ve crafted a proposal that is unquestionably reasonable and fair. Isn’t it just common sense that contracts should be decided by those who work under them? Of course it is – and it is now up to the Board to maximize SAG’s strength and credibility by implementing this overdue reform.

The SAG-AFTRA split:

As you probably already know, our unions will now negotiate separately, and perhaps competitively. This is perhaps the most damaging problem facing actors who depend on union contracts.

Much has been said about the collapse of cooperative negotiations, with mutual accusations of bad behavior and mistrust. But this much is clear: it’s the predictable consequence of having two independent unions representing the same employees doing exactly the same work for exactly the same employers. The months of public squabbling that brought us here have been a boon to the studios, and have weakened both unions’ negotiating positions. This makes it all the more important that SAG and AFTRA each adopt our proposal. By ensuring that contracts are decided by those who work under them, our unions can best position themselves to secure the strongest contracts possible – even if they must do so in the risky environment of separate negotiations.

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.