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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Unofficial May 2013 Report from National Board Member Art Lynch (part 2)

(First posted May 13, 2013)

We have been dealt a bad hand, but that does not mean that the union, unionism and our roles as talent have changed or that things will not get better.

A budget shortfall led to the cut of 80 staff members (as reported in the press) on a national level.

All locals lost staff.

Thirteen of us lost our local Executive Directors.

Steve Clinton deserves your thanks, reference and respect for the 24/7 dedication to each of us as member and to our union.

By a 66 to 34% weighted vote (Hollywood representing more than half that vote), and on only three days notice, the National Board approved National Executive Director David White's plan to conserve money due to a large decrease in dues paid and initiations received. This decline was not anticipated with the merger of the two unions.

The union has money, but those reserves are needed to be prepared for the strongest possible position moving into upcoming theatrical (film) and television contract discussions and serving various key contracts across the country.

We are not alone. Offices closed and executive positions eliminated include Arizona, Utah, Portland, New Mexico, Houston, Austin, San Diego, Colorado, Michigan, New Orleans as well as Nevada.

All other locals had staff cut by one third to up to three quarters (except Hollywood, which is also SAG-AFTRA's national offices...but there were reductions there as well).

What we need to do now, is let the union know how valuable Steve Clinton is, work with the new positions assigned to oversee shuttered locals (none locally based), fight for restoration as soon as financially possible, continue to teach the board members who voted to close offices of how valuable our executives are and we are to the overall union, and grow production in every way we can.

We cannot give up.

Nor should you change horses in the middle of this race. I do intent, with your votes, to continue to fight for Nevada, despite the deep budget cuts already made.

We need reserves to continue our national fight for stronger contracts, contract enforcement, large scale organizing and the rapid payment to members of all benefits, including your paychecks and residuals.


SAG-AFTRA is active in the battle against an aggressive spread of right-to-work legislation in traditional union security states and the overall erosion of union security, as illustrated by recent events in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Living and working in a Right-to-Work state Nevada members see firsthand how these laws allow those who are not union to work under out contracts. It is a battle for union jobs and the ability of unions to exist.

While Nevada membership fights for film incentives and the regulation of talent agencies and casting companies, there has been strong erosion in other states. The Screen Actors Guild National Legislative effort is working for members in every branch to strengthen film incentives and provide protection for members in the areas of talent agents, casting and employment.

An on-line production center has been launched and will expand. This center simplifies the process for producers to become signatory, starting with ultra low and low budget production, while making it easier for potential signatories to understand and work with the Guild. It does not take away the freedom to interact with local executives. Nevada has already benefited from at least one signatory production that used this on line process, with others in the works.

The end of talent paying fees to those who potentially employ us is a priority for the union. Each state has different laws and guidelines, however the industry standard is set in California. In California great progress has been made in eliminating and minimizing the fees background and all talent pay for talent listing and the promise of work. State and local regulations for Nevada are being reviewed and will be at the forefront as the “industry standard” stretches out into other states.

The Guild has made progress, in partnership with producers and others, to safeguard your intellectual property, which is to say your image and talents. File sharing, piracy and rights of ownership are at the forefront of national and international efforts for legislation and enforcement.

Progress is also underway to expand insurance coverage to include not only those who are vested in the union, but everyone who pays dues to the Screen Actors Guild. Thre are plans you can purchase, as well as policies (see the SAG-AFTRA web site) It is too early in the process for details, however additional forms of insurance will be available soon. And of course, once vested in the union, SAG remains the envy of other unions in the strength and benefits of our pension, health and retirement coverage.

Communication remains a personal priority, as budget restrictions limits traditional print and in person meetings. Both print and in person will remain, however changes will continue to be made to assure the union remains strong in contract negotiation and enforcement, and the overall protection of all talent in the workplace.

Screen Actor Magazine and a local newsletter will remain. Use of the website, e-mail and linked sites has increased and is constantly being improved. A Young Performers web presence now includes material that can be used by the performers themselves as well as parents and producers. As mentioned above, a Production Center assists producers in the signatory process. SAG TV has expanded as a resource with video of events, issues of interests to performers and on various questions frequently asked of the Guild. A link to the successful SAG Foundation LifeRaft series can be found on the site. Check out www.sagaftra.org.

To assist in communication with membership there has been progress toward returning to the policy where local presidents can have access to the list of local membership.Contracts, enforcement, adjustments, planning for the future, adjusting to changes in the industry, getting members paid, organizing and expanding work and providing services and benefits are the joint responsibility of elected and volunteer members and a trained professional staff. Economics have dictated that you, as members, are needed to step forward now more than ever, to help shape the future of your Guild.

Much of what the board deals with is ongoing and therefore confidential. Work is done at board meetings, in caucus, between meetings as individuals and on many committees, task forces, sub-committees and work groups. I remain active in many of these, and have gotten as many Nevada members directly involved as possible, We are the most active of any small branches and one of the most nationally active of any branch of this union.

Please send any questions or comments to my attention through SAG @ 
steven.clinton@sag.org (it will be forwarded to our representatives).

Solidarity;

Art Lynch


SAG-AFTRA National Board Director

(Unofficial, not approved by or
agreed to by SAG-AFTRA, written
as an individual.

Nevada

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