PROTECT OUR FUTURE
ISSUE: We have lost hundreds of millions of dollars because our contracts have not kept pace with exhibition platforms as they have evolved. A change in leadership is imperative, in order to prevent history from repeating itself.
WHY IS THIS AN ISSUE? How we receive and watch entertainment (Broadcast Television, Cable-TV, DVD and Blu-Ray), are quickly becoming a thing of the past, as new streaming options and virtual reality experiences have become mainstream. It is negligent to think we are always going to be entertained in the same way through film and television.
WHAT IS OUR SOLUTION? It is time to stop playing catch up and start getting ahead of the negotiating game. We must anticipate the changes in industry technologies. Matthew Modine, Jodi Long and MembershipFirst have the vision, courage and conviction to forge ahead with all future contracts designed to capture any and all new platforms created to exhibit our work. Our goal is to deliver stronger contracts that result in more money in your pocket and larger contributions into our Pension, Health and Retirement Plans.
IMPROVE OUR TV/THEATRICAL CONTRACTS
ISSUE: There is more scripted dramatic programming produced now than ever before... a lot more work, for a lot less money. Without smart and aggressive negotiators, our contracts will continue to erode.
WHY IS THIS AN ISSUE? The past few TV/Theatrical Negotiations have failed us in many areas. There have been way too many givebacks. Bringing the same negotiating leaders back to the bargaining table will only yield the same poorly negotiated results.
WHAT IS OUR SOLUTION? We will approach this negotiation from a position of strength and are determined to correct the mistakes of the past.
ENFORCE OUR CONTRACTS
ISSUE: SAG-AFTRA is supposed to protect its members when production fails to meet its contractual obligations. When it comes to enforcement, too many times members are left to fend for themselves.
WHY IS THIS AN ISSUE? There is a real threat of retribution and retaliation to performers who have to stand up for their contractual rights, on their own. It’s the Union’s duty to be our enforcer.
WHAT IS OUR SOLUTION? We have to fix the disconnect between what our employers are getting away with and our Union whose job it is to protect us. We will empower our staff to be aggressive in enforcing our contracts knowing they have a new, strong leadership supporting them.
FIGHT FOR RESIDUALS
ISSUE: For decades, residuals have been the lifeblood for performers. There have been many hard fought victories to ensure our financial well-being based on the continuing use of our performances. These formulas have eroded over the past 20 years. Countless amounts have been lost in made-for-cable residuals, Home-Video/DVD, and now New Media (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc.) The residual formulas for all New Media demands action. It is imperative that our residuals for the future exhibition of our work fairly compensates us; wherever, or however, that work is viewed.
WHY IS THIS AN ISSUE? We are losing untold monies because of these eroding residual formulas, making it harder to qualify for health insurance and earn pension credits. Our pension is losing millions of dollars in contributions, causing it to continue to decline.
The 2017 negotiated SVOD increases in residuals only counted towards newly licensed shows (NOT episodes). If you work on a high budget SVOD Amazon show like “Bosch” that has been in production for 4 years, you will never see any benefits from the 2017 increases. Your residuals on these shows will be forever calculated and based on exceptionally low and poorly bargained rates. The concept that only new shows, NOT new episodes of existing shows, get newly bargained increases has never happened before in our union’s history and we will not let it happen again.
WHAT IS OUR SOLUTION? Same work should receive the same pay. These degrading residual formulas starve your wallet and starve the pension and health plan. MembershipFirst believes in strong negotiations and protecting residuals.
ISSUE: Background Actors are not protected nationally under all SAG-AFTRA contracts. In addition, they do not have a guaranteed seat on the National Board, as do all other categories.
WHY IS THIS AN ISSUE? Every other performer has the benefits and protections of a union contract regardless of what part of the country (or the world) they work in, except Background Actors. They are only protected in seven (7) zones in the United States: Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Hawaii. Outside of these zones, non-union performers are taking jobs that should go to union members. In Atlanta alone, 455 projects were shot in 2018-19 with no union protection for background. Some contracts, like the newly negotiated Telemundo deal, specifically exclude background actors.
When production companies are allowed to use non-union performers instead of SAG-AFTRA members, the whole union suffers, not just background actors. Every dollar earned by a non-union worker not only deprives a union member of a living wage, but also short-changes our pension and health funds. In non-covered zones, like Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami, Seattle and New Mexico, principal performers who need that one last job to qualify for benefits do not have the opportunity to work a union background acting job to reach their thresholds.
Background Actors are a fundamental constituency group within SAG-AFTRA, but unlike Dancers, Stunt Performers, Actors, Singers/Recording Artists, and Broadcasters, they do not have a guaranteed voice in the National Board room. Without this, Background Actors have struggled to have their basic needs met. They are on an unequal footing with the rest of the membership and cannot even weigh in on matters that directly affect their lives and livelihoods.
WHAT IS OUR SOLUTION? MembershipFirst believes it is time for all members, whether they speak on camera or not, to have the same benefits, protections, and representation with a guaranteed board seat on the National Board. We will continue to advocate strongly in the boardrooms for Background Actor issues and insist that Background Actors be represented on negotiating committees including the TV/Theatrical, Music Video, Commercial, and Special Contract Negotiations.
MembershipFirst successfully pressed for adding coverage of Background Actors under the Music Videos contract.
MembershipFirst spearheaded the re-establishment of a separate Background Actor Department with a full staff of 7.
MembershipFirst pushed to update and expand the Background Digest.
MembershipFirst facilitated the distribution of smaller contracts rate sheets (which were previously unavailable) to Background Actors.
ISSUE: Dancers are losing contract benefits, wages, penalties and set safety consideration.
WHY IS THIS AN ISSUE? As Dancers lose benefits and protections that were fought for over the years, their principal status on the set diminishes. Standards such as hazard pay, dressing rooms, rehearsal space, which were once written into contracts, are now having to be negotiated on set. If dancers speak up, there is often retaliation by employers. Breaks and safety issues are being ignored causing more injuries. Dancers are being relegated to parking lots or other unacceptable areas as holding areas or rehearsal spaces, with dangerous results.
WHAT IS OUR SOLUTION? As physical performers, it is time to have similar benefits, protections, and representation as do stunt performers, in terms of rehearsal time, safety, etc. Implement the role of a guaranteed Dance Coordinator on the set, similar to a Stunt Coordinator, to determine if there are potential safety hazards, or if additional stipends, such as hazard pay, meal penalties, break penalties, etc. are due on set. We will advocate strongly in the boardroom for Dancer issues and insist they are represented on all negotiating contract committees.