It was inevitable in this bitter SAG election between Membership First and Unite For Strength that both slates would find red meat in the just-as-bitter relationship between SAG Hollywood and the NY Division. At issue now are remarks made by SAG national president Alan Rosenberg at two Membership First campaign events — August 23rd (a fundraiser at Nancy Sinatra’s house) and 24th (an informal meet and greet) as reported by Back Stage. (I’ve noted Back Stage has a very obvious anti-SAG leadership bias, not surprising since it’s a sister Nielsen Business Media publication of the equally biased Hollywood Reporter. Nevertheless, I’ll assume Rosenberg was quoted accurately.)
BACK STAGE: “In his address to the approximately 95 guests at the fundraiser, Rosenberg called the current board elections “the most important elections in the history of the Screen Actors Guild.” He said of UFS’s slate of candidates, “To elect people who have never been near this union, never served on a committee, know nothing about negotiations, and to replace valuable people…it would be absolutely a tragedy.” … “Unite for Strength is a hypocrisy; we all know that,” said Rosenberg, who later referred to the party as “Divide for Weakness.” “These are people who say they want to unite something, then come in and take away people’s right to vote on contracts… They say they want strength, yet they want to merge with a union, AFTRA, which just ratified a contract that’s going to kill actors… They don’t want to unite this place, and they don’t want us to be strong.” He continued, “MembershipFirst takes that title very seriously. They really stand up for the members, each and every time on each on every issue…. The other people want to turn this into an organization that only represents the top 2% of the wage earners in this business. [They] are forced to lie, they’re forced to misrepresent, they’re forced to launch character assassinations…. They really talk about qualified voting. They really talk about giving away residuals…. In order to get elected, if that’s your agenda, you have to lie.”
“… The national president also criticized national board members from the New York and regional branch divisions, who abstained from voting on a referendum to reject the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ ‘final’ contract offer during a meeting Aug. 21. The motion to reject the AMPTP’s offer passed, as did a resolution to send a post card in a bulletin about the negotiations, polling members about their thoughts on the AMPTP deal. The board voted to reject the New York and regional board members’ request to bring a mediator into the negotiations between the guild and the studios. … On Saturday, Rosenberg said of the New York and branch members, who are more sympathetic toward UFS and AFTRA, “If you stop telling lies about us, we’ll stop telling the truth about you. And that’s what people want to say to these people in New York, people in the regional branches, and people in this Unite for Strength party.”
In response, the NY Division issued this press statement today:
“SAG President Alan Rosenberg’s statements in a recent Backstage article were grossly irresponsible and make two things abundantly clear: he has no respect for any SAG member who disagrees with the increasingly destructive agenda of Membership First; and his perspective on the nationwide dissent against Membership First is as delusional as his perspective on our ‘phenomenal’ TV/Theatrical negotiations which continue to go nowhere. Those of us who were elected in New York to serve SAG’s membership were alarmed by the tone and content of Mr. Rosenberg’s statements and we question his ability to represent our entire, National union in our currently stalled TV/Theatrical negotiations.”
Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.