LOS ANGELES (Sept. 29, 2013) --- Day three of the SAG-AFTRA National Convention featured a keynote speech by Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez., who thanked the leadership for their work during an exciting time for the union.
“As you embark on this remarkable journey together as one, the fact of the matter is people can’t play you off each other anymore. That’s really important,” he said. “I want to thank you for the work that you do. While I go into the court of law, you go into the court that is much bigger. That’s the court of public opinion – winning the minds and hearts of the people.”
Perez went on to recognize the work of the union on behalf of people with disabilities, members of the LGBT community, veterans and the labor movement as a whole. He recalled the Lights! Camera! Access! program, which brought entertainment industry unions together with the U.S. Department of Labor to discuss entertainment industry to explore strategies to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Mentioning television series that feature LGBT characters such as Will & Grace, Perez spoke of the It Gets Better program saying, “As a result of your work, it has, indeed, gotten better.”
Perez discussed all member categories—broadcast, performer, stunt performer, sound recording artist—saying, “The issues that confront SAG-AFTRA are the same that affect all workers. We are one and you have a partner in the United States of America.”
Following Perez was a video greeting from Vice President Joe Biden who said, “You are a vital part of the labor movement in this country.” Discussing intellectual property laws Biden stated, “As technology changes, we need to make sure these laws mean something for you and protect what you do.” Quoting former SAG President James Cagney Biden stressed the importance of progress in the digital landscape saying, “Learn your lines, look them in the eyes and tell the truth. That’s all we have to do.”
Organizing was the topic of the day. Videos were presented on Government and Public Policy and Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity. Jeff Spurgeon of WNYC and Robert Schaefer of NPR spoke regarding KPCC and John Rafter Lee spoke regarding Audiobooks, both with a video presentation.
An interstitial break in the afternoon session brought to stage members of the National Seniors Committee and National Singer’s Committee who got delegates to their feet for a fun musical tribute to our senior members. The committee members performed Suddenly Senior, sung to the tune of Suddenly Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors, sang a musical tribute to senior members. The song was led by Jackie Joseph, who starred as Audrey in the original 1960 film version, Susan Boyd-Joyce, Dan Navarro, Bobbie Bates, along with Ken Howard.
Delegates also continued discussion of the various constitutional amendments and resolutions being presented for consideration and voting. Complete results of convention business will be released on Monday.
The inaugural national convention concludes Sunday with reports from the national president, national secretary-treasurer, national executive vice president and national executive director.