A Letter from SAG-AFTRA L.A. Local President Jane Austin
March 21, 2018, 9:03am via SAGAFTRA.org
As we begin 2018, I am proud to see SAG-AFTRA members and staff aggressively leading the charge to keep our members safe in an industry that often has our members working in unpredictable and precarious circumstances. Safety is the word for the year and our union is pushing forward with several initiatives to protect our members.
SAG-AFTRA has developed a Code of Conduct that provides guidance to performers within their own work environment and defines boundaries for what is and is not appropriate. We are conducting educational programs to educate staff and members on how to handle workplace abuse and unsafe conditions in order to empower our members to confidently speak out against violations. Our leadership has developed relationships and partnerships within the industry to support those who have been harmed and also to join forces to eliminate abuses in the future. In addition, SAG-AFTRA is creating public service announcements. These are all small steps building to a larger goal of protecting our members.
Sadly, sexual harassment is not the only safety issue on set. The stunt community suffered heartbreaking loss of life last year when physical safety was not made a priority. In an effort to foster higher safety standards on set, I am thrilled that the union, at the behest of the National Stunt and Safety Committee that I vice chair, has established new guidelines for standards and practices for stunt coordinators. Just as members serve as the union's eyes and ears on set, SAG-AFTRA stunt coordinators are our front line of day-to-day stunt-related safety. This document is available online. Meanwhile, our staff continues to maintain the 24/7 hotline at (844) SAFER-SET and makes every effort to intervene when issues arise, often shutting down a production until problems are addressed.
I am very proud to be a part of the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Safety created by President Gabrielle Carteris. This nationwide body of SAG-AFTRA leaders have been working as a cohesive unit to review all work situations pertaining to safety that our members experience, form strategies and improve the workplace, while reaching out to employers and others who affect our lives. President Carteris and National Executive Director David White, who are playing integral parts of the newly formed industrywide sexual harassment commission chaired by Anita Hill, will provide updates on the commission's initiatives and programs.
Strength and solidarity must prevail. Harassment of our members and pressure to ignore the rules laid out in the codified contracts continues to be a problem. Not only are members, at times, failing to receive proper compensation, but some are being threatened with their job security. The union relies on members to use their collective voices, speak out and band together in order to create protection for each other, both emotionally and physically. Additional production, staff and member education are imperative, and I urge all members to keep informed and engaged in these ongoing developments by reading your emails, visiting the website and keeping apprised on social media. It will take the entire industry to make the much-needed change.
In closing, please keep safe out there, book the gig and remember if you see something, say something. Please let us know by calling the SAG-AFTRA hotline and don’t forget to record the name of the person you spoke to, the date and the time. Together we make up the eyes, ears and heart of the union.
SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer and L.A. Local President