Saturday, February 27, 2010

AFTRA Board Approves Joint Bargaining With SAG

At a videoconference meeting today in New York and LA, AFTRA’s national board unanimously voted to approve joint bargaining with SAG for the Primetime Television Contract and the SAG TV/theatrical contract. The move comes a month after SAG’s national board voted, by a tally of 82% to 18%, to “seek engagement with AFTRA in a joint bargaining agreement for negotiation of the Television/Theatrical Contract.”

Assuming SAG and AFTRA sign a formal agreement to bargain jointly – which seems highly likely – the negotiations with the AMPTP (studio alliance) will be conducted under the terms of the Phase One agreement that had been used for decades, with the notable exception of the most recent negotiating cycle, in 2008-2009. That’s good news for an industry that can ill-afford another strike or year-long stalemate.

In addition, a non-disparagement agreement will be in place, which should help keep tempers from flaring publicly, particularly on the part of the SAG hardline minority. Again, good news.

In a statement, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon cited “productive discussions with our counterparts at Screen Actors Guild” and added, “I look forward to continuing our work with SAG President Ken Howard and the leadership and members of our sister union as we move forward to bargain the strongest possible contracts for professional talent.” SAG was equally enthusiastic, commenting through a spokeswoman that the AFTRA vote was “terrific news for the memberships of both unions and we look forward to an effective negotiation."

Negotiations between SAG and the AMPTP are currently scheduled to begin October 1 and run through November 15. Whether the date may have to be adjusted to accommodate AFTRA is unclear, since AFTRA’s own Network Code negotiations may bump up against the October 1 date, but shifting the October 1 date would cause the end date (November 15) to slide into Thanksgiving week. After weeks of talking turkey at the bargaining table, negotiators will probably be ready for their holiday.

The AFTRA press release is below.

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AFTRA National Board Approves Joint Bargaining with SAG on Primetime Television

Ratifies New National Public Television Agreement

LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK (Feb. 27, 2010) --- The National Board of Directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), a national union of more than more 70,000 performers, journalists, broadcasters, recording artists and other talent working in the entertainment and news media, met today by videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York.

The AFTRA National Board unanimously voted to approve a recommendation by a subcommittee of the AFTRA Strategy Cabinet to formally engage in joint bargaining under Phase One terms with Screen Actors Guild (SAG) for the AFTRA Primetime Television Contract (Exhibit A of the Network Television Code) and the SAG Television and Theatrical Agreement and under the existing AFL-CIO-facilitated No Raiding/Non-Disparagement Agreement between the two unions. No wages and working conditions meetings or negotiations are scheduled at this time.

The approved motion reads:

“The AFTRA National Board approves conducting the preparation for, negotiation and administration of the 2011 AFTRA Exhibit A Agreement and SAG TV/Theatrical Agreement jointly with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) under the terms of the Phase One Agreement, as Phase One has been applied in the past, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the AFL-CIO-facilitated Agreement for Negotiation of Commercials Contracts Under the Phase One Agreement (“The Commercials Agreement”). Staff is directed to prepare and execute an agreement that is identical to the Commercials Agreement to cover negotiations of the Exhibit A Agreement and SAG TV/Theatrical Agreement and forward same to SAG for its signature as soon as practicable (with the understanding that the escrow currently held by Amalgamated Bank will be utilized in connection with the EXHIBIT A/TV Theatrical Negotiations Agreement).”

After the vote, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said, “I applaud the National Board for taking this important step forward today following our productive discussions with our counterparts at Screen Actors Guild earlier this week, specifically with respect to AFTRA’s heavy negotiating schedule for 2010. I look forward to continuing our work with SAG President Ken Howard and the leadership and members of our sister union as we move forward to bargain the strongest possible contracts for professional talent.”

The National Board also unanimously ratified a successor agreement to the 2002 Extension to the National AFTRA Public Television Agreement. The new three-year contract, effective March 1, 2010, to Feb. 28, 2013, includes increases in minimum compensation and employer contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds, as well as jurisdiction over programs made for or reused in new media.

In her staff report the National Board, AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth reported on the union’s advocacy to combat Internet theft of intellectual property and copyrighted material including AFTRA members’ performances. Last August, the AFTRA Convention unanimously approved a resolution supporting broadband access for all Americans and calling on the federal government and its agencies to ensure that the nation’s regulatory policies regarding Internet broadband expansion include provisions that effectively protect against copyright theft.

Hedgpeth also reported that, for the period of May 1, 2009, to Oct. 31, 2009, the union has collected more than $6.6 million in claims, grievances, arbitrations, legal proceedings and negotiated settlements on behalf of AFTRA members.

In other action today, the National Board made appointments to the Sound Recordings Code Steering Committee and the Network Code “Front-of-the-Book” Steering Committee. In the coming month, each committee will discuss preparations and a timeline for negotiations of the Sound Recordings Code, set to expire on June 30, and the AFTRA Network Code which will expire on Nov. 15. In further action, the Board authorized the AFTRA Administrative Committee to update these committees as needed depending upon the calendar and needs for negotiations of both contracts.

Additionally, the National Board made appointments to the Broadcast Steering Committee, and the Financial Core and Actors’ Equity Association Relations Subcommittees of the AFTRA National Organizing Committee. The Board also received reports from the Strategy Cabinet and the Finance, Women’s, Broadcast Steering, Young AFTRAns and Equal Employment Opportunities Committees.

The Board also received a report on the successful outcome of the 2010 AFTRA Media and Entertainment Awards held in New York on February 22, the proceeds of which benefit the work of the AFTRA Foundation, a charitable and education organization funded through tax-deductible contributions, grants and bequests to support projects outside the scope of normal AFTRA activities. New York Board members Lainie Cooke, who also serves as the union’s National Recording Secretary, and Ed Fry were elected by acclamation to the AFTRA Foundation Board of Directors.

AFTRA National Vice President President Shelby Scott, who serves as Union Chair of the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds Board of Trustees, reported that the Trustees met at the beginning of February and determined that AFTRA H&R Funds are healthy, with the Retirement Fund more than 89% funded –well within the federal government’s “green zone” – and that the AFTRA Health Fund has more than a year’s reserve.

The National Board opened its meeting by expressing sympathy and concern for the citizens of Chile who suffered a massive 8.8 earthquake last night. President Reardon convened the meeting in remembrance of AFTRA members who passed away since Board last met in October, including recording artist Teddy Pendergrass, actor James Mitchell and former National Board members Jim Huston, Frances Reid, Conard Fowkes, among others.

The National Board is next scheduled to meet in face-to-face plenary session in New York in June 2010.

16 comments:

  1. This is not real news. This is fake news. The real news is the push to merge. You can't merge with a union you're at war with, right? So, we make nice, then we either merge, or we do 2011, then merge. That's the plan. But, the questions are mounting, and some interesting responses from some high-profile people are on their way in the next week or so. Those who know what is going on understand this is all show. The real questions about all the dirty deeds to get the SAG moderates, AFTRA and the AMPTP to this point, are about collusion. Collusion, as in, the conscious end-around of not informing the SAG membership that the real plan is to make nice, not stand tall once again for much of anything, then merge to achieve "strength in numbers." But, again, those on the inside know there is no "strength in numbers" planned, otherwise the AMPTP would not be helping SAG sell merger by giving all the pilots to AFTRA, despite a less expensive, and currently producer-friendly union at SAG. Are they "punishing them" Jonathan? Come on, you're smarter than that. They are helping them - SAG, that is. Where is the pushback from Ken Howard, Amy Aquino, David White on no pilots going to SAG? It's in "executive session" that's where, where no one can hear it or see it - because there is nothing to hear or see. The plain truth is the current government of SAG is doing everything they can to weaken SAG, so as to make merger a virtual inevitability. But there are problems - many, many problems. Among them, the SAG staff is none too thrilled they will very probably be out of a job once merger happens. And the SAG staff, regardless of their short-term allegiances, don't like that idea at all - and they know, more than anyone, where the bodies are buried. "You threaten my job via merger, I threaten merger via such and such information." It's not just anti-merger SAG members who will raise holy hell. Things will be coming to light soon, informing SAG members that "strength in numbers" is not exactly the plan. More like "producer-friendly contracts from a relatively static group of top office holders in a new union so tied up in red tape it is nearly impossible to strike" - the only true weapon any union has.

    It aint over. Not nearly.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Merger is upon us. Matt Mulhern is "under" us. (Hey Matt, that ski mask don't hide your horns).

    It's a done deal. Merger. Merger Now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. OH, OH, MATT MULHERN.

    This is not real news. This is fake news.
    The real news is the push to merge. You can't merge with a union you're at war with, right? So, we make nice, then we either merge, or we do 2011, then merge. That's the plan.

    SOUNDS GOOD TO ME.

    But, the questions are mounting, and some interesting responses from some high-profile people are on their way in the next week or so. Those who know what is going on understand this is all show. The real questions about all the dirty deeds to get the SAG moderates, AFTRA and the AMPTP to this point, are about collusion. Collusion, as in, the conscious end-around of not informing the SAG membership that the real plan is to make nice, not stand tall once again for much of anything, then merge to achieve "strength in numbers."

    SO POSE AT LEAST ONE OF THE QUESTIONS THAT ARE "MOUNTING." OH - THERE AREN'T ANY?
    I, FOR ONE, WOULD LIKE TO HEAR SOMETHING SPECIFIC FROM ONE OF YOUR "HIGH-PROFILE PEOPLE" ALONG THE LINES OF "DIRTY DEEDS" AND "COLLUSION."
    I MEAN, SOMETHING SPECIFIC - NOT YOUR TATTY LITTLE INFERENCES AND CATTY DIGS.

    But, again, those on the inside know there is no "strength in numbers" planned, otherwise the AMPTP would not be helping SAG sell merger by giving all the pilots to AFTRA, despite a less expensive, and currently producer-friendly union at SAG. Are they "punishing them" Jonathan? Come on, you're smarter than that. They are helping them - SAG, that is. Where is the pushback from Ken Howard, Amy Aquino, David White on no pilots going to SAG? It's in "executive session" that's where, where no one can hear it or see it - because there is nothing to hear or see. The plain truth is the current government of SAG is doing everything they can to weaken SAG, so as to make merger a virtual inevitability.

    But there are problems - many, many problems. Among them, the SAG staff is none too thrilled they will very probably be out of a job once merger happens. And the SAG staff, regardless of their short-term allegiances, don't like that idea at all - and they know, more than anyone, where the bodies are buried. "You threaten my job via merger, I threaten merger via such and such information." It's not just anti-merger SAG members who will raise holy hell. Things will be coming to light soon, informing SAG members that "strength in numbers" is not exactly the plan. More like "producer-friendly contracts from a relatively static group of top office holders in a new union so tied up in red tape it is nearly impossible to strike" - the only true weapon any union has.

    OH. SO NOW YOU'RE ATTEMPTING TO HANG YOUR "COLLUSION" BANNER ON SAG STAFF? SAG STAFF - WHO YOU'VE NEVER MET AND DO NOT KNOW?

    It aint over. Not nearly.

    FOR YOU, MULHERN, IT IS.

    ReplyDelete
  4. SAG and AFTRA merged into a single, unified performers' union is the only way that the conglomerates can be persuaded to negotiate fair contracts for actors.

    Until then, management will continue to attempt to exploit the competition between the two separate unions by deliberately increasing the divide of TV work between the unions - which they have the power to do as long as we are not unified.

    Those who resist unification, fight merger, and who are attempting to keep performers divided for their own selfish egotistical ends are aiding and abetting the exploitation of actors' work for unfair compensation.

    Those who are struggling, through costly nuisance lawsuits, to regain the power over SAG that they so egregiously abused over the past five years are traitors to the cause of organized labor.

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  5. This is a simplistic argument, based on the premise that the philosophical divide within SAG will suddenly disappear once merger is complete. It, of course, will not. One side, roughly speaking, the progressives, or "hard-liners" (hard-liners for... fairness!) sees the need for firmness with management, understands the devastating effect of losing the will to confront producers at crucial times (VHS/DVD, cable, now - new media) and understands displays of weakness, such as the outrageous behavior of the "moderates" and their complete disregard for unity and loyalty to elected leadership in a time of crisis, played directly into the hands of producers, who exploited the divide for their own substantial gain.

    We are currently working under the terms of a terrible contract, and it is the fault of the "moderate" faction, who fantasize that all SAG's problems will be erased by merger.

    Merger has been rejected for 70 plus years, simply because SAG doesn't want it. That's quite a record: 70 years. Two full votes of both SAG and AFTRA, and 14 failed attempts to push merger along the path to vote thwarted by SAG government.

    Which leads one naturally to the question: what do these people want? And why won't they take the hint and go away?

    Simple: they want what SAG has, while SAG doesn't want what AFTRA has.

    SAG has a world-wide brand name, a long record of improvements and protections for actors, every one of them the result of threatened or actual strike, SAG has a superior P&H program, the envy of AFTRA, who's pension accrues at a far slower rate. SAG has a reputation for toughness at the negotiating table.

    AFTRA is virtually unknown as a brand name outside the industry. No one is "proud" to be a member of AFTRA - it simply comes up at some point in your career and you have to join to do a job. The union is weak and slack in it's attention to actors needs, requests for information, it is secretive, it is extremely slow in gathering and distributing residuals, and that, of course, brings one to its contracts: why would anyone want to merge with a union whose record has been bad contracts for actors, with free windows for no residual payments, smaller residuals when they do come, and, all around, an extremely lackluster reputation in it's principal mission: to defend the rights of its members?

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  6. Why would SAG wish to merge with a weak, compliant union, that has made a habit of predatory, hostile moves to undercut SAG contracts to the detriment of all actors?

    The situation actors find themselves in right now is the direct result of the upswing of the sentiment that actors should regard producers as their "friends" rather than representatives of multi-billion dollar corporate behemoths, who have one goal: more profit for less cost.

    Anyone with eyes can see this push to merge is the effort of this poisonous element of "moderate" SAG, AFTRA and the AMPTP itself, which is helping the sale of merger by awarding all TV pilots to AFTRA, with a tacit understanding that a merged union will be producer-compliant, with no labor "trouble" for the foreseeable future.

    That kind of weakness is a death knell for actors who aspire to a middle class life with decent benefits and pensions. The actors and staff who struck and sacrificed to get actors those rights are not happy, those living, and those passed.

    This push will be countered, once again, by actors realizing through their wallets, a merger will not provide them with a "better" union, in fact, exactly the opposite: a much more AFTRA-style, top-down, instead of bottom up, dissent-crushing, corporatist, giant - alongside recording artists and broadcasters who couldn't give a rat's ass about actors and will never come to their aid if they need to strike, which will almost definitely be nearly impossible to do, given the binding anti-strike rules and regulations the new "union" will have.

    True unionists loathe this movement and can't wait for the day it is crushed, for the 17th time, and one only hopes, for good.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I know all the players, and I happen to find the "hardliners" (MeFirst) much less progressive than the "moderates." The MeFirst hardliners are always entirely and tiresomely predictable insofar as they repeat the same mistakes over and over again in anticipation of different results. That's the definition of insanity.

    We're NOT working under a "terrible" contract. It's not the best, perhaps, but it is what was salvaged from the MeFirst debacle. They blundered on the runup to negotiations and then fouled them up for months.

    There is no "SAG brand." And SAG most certainly DOES want what AFTRA has - over 50% of the contracted work by actors on TV.

    The MeFirsters declare their "enemy" to be those who write their paychecks. They only think in terms of "fighting" and "crushing" (see above) and cannot conceive of thoughtful, smartly-crafted negotiations.

    If only they would shut their whining yaps for one contract period perhaps the adults could get something done for the members.

    ReplyDelete
  8. How can Matt Mulhern claim to know all of these negative aspects of a merged union (his inventions) when those who actually want the merger don't know these details themselves?

    It's all flawed guesswork by Mulhern. He makes it all up just to knock it down. Why does he do this? Because he's made himself an outsider to this and most processes that serve the union by his own obstreperous behavior - on the blogs, especially. He finds himself a pariah, an outcast, by his own actions, and he has allied himself with others who have done the same. And he's trying to hang it all on somebody else, the same way his MeFirst cohorts do.

    Mulhern has never been inside a union boardroom, and yet, by this transparent bombast, he purports to know how SAG operates and how it will operate as part of a merged entity in the future. Ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think the facts are on Mr. Mulhern's side, the history is as he describes it, and the merger record is currently zero for 16, going back 70 years.

    I think, if you dug up Jimmy Cagney and asked him "it's 2010 - what would you guess is the principal thing SAG is arguing about now?"

    He'd say "don't tell me they're trying to push merger again?"

    Then he'd fall over dead. Again.

    I guarantee he'd guess that first.

    These people are a relentless nuisance to getting the business of the SAG membership done, and they need to be exterminated, never to darken the door of SAG governance again.

    SAG "isn't a brand name?" That's news.

    Plus, the logic doesn't scan, putting the aquisition of 85 (actually) TV pilots by AFTRA as a reason to merge, begs the question: why would the AMPTP give away the entire TV jurisdiction to AFTRA, when the current government of SAG is producer-friendly and bailed them out by ousting the previous administration by the illegal - at the time - use of written assent - so they (the AMPTP) could get a terrible contract for actors simply signed by the SAG moderates.

    Logic says they'd be rewarding the current administration, not punishing them by taking the entire TV jurisdiction away.

    Which leads to another obvious question: why isn't the SAG membership hearing the outrage over the loss of TV pilots from Ken Howard, Amy Aquino and others, since they ran on it the last election? They discuss the SAG pilot season "in executive session" - in private. They haven't sent out a single email or pamphlet or given any public expression of the outrage they should be expressing that, after all they've done to oust the so-called "hard-liners" - they are being stripped - in two years! - of SAG's entire jurisdiction in TV, the bread and butter of the SAG middle class actor.

    You can't have it both ways: either you come clean on your campaign platform, and admit it was all a shell to weaken SAG to facilitate merger, or you represent the members of the Screen Actors Guild.

    They are currently doing neither, which is not escaping the notice of the membership, and for which they will be held accountable.

    They "negotiated" nothing. They simply signed a terribly flawed document that will haunt SAG in their inability to confront strength with strength, as the previous administration was cautioning SAG it had to do.

    They themselves had forced this terrible contract on the SAG membership by publicly supporting the previous administration in its call for the absolute necessity of unity and toughness to fight off this disastrous deal, then privately working to defeat both the effort to get the SA, and to pin the lack of progress on Rosenberg and Allen, when they Rosenberg and Allen would have had a fair deal for actors in a relatively short amount of time if they had simply been supported by the people who elected them.

    That is not "not taking responsibility" for anything. That is simply a statement of fact.

    And, again, the fantasy this is all the sour grapes of one individual is laughable.

    They will find out how many individuals make up the opposition to their plans for merger soon enough.

    ReplyDelete
  10. There's substance for you:

    What Jimmy Cagney - risen from the grave - would say.

    Mulhern's need to "exterminate" other actors.

    Mulhernian "logic": the need for others' "outrage."

    The "hardliners" dire need for Viagra.

    The city is surrounded.

    The door is on fire.

    Bored yet?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Please Mr. Handel..get rid of Mulhern. He fouls all he touches. Each blog has banned him. Can't you follow the logic. He's ruining your site as well.

    I can't read his rants without calling the cops to report a psychopath

    ReplyDelete
  12. Rants against Mr. Mulhern are beside the point. These attacks come from people like Tom Ligon, who has now been barred from Showfax and Sagactor, and Marisa Redanty who is barred from Sagactor and Showfax. The hypocrisy is hilarious. Constant, endless, personal attacks, using a variety of aliases, recently exposed by the administrator of Showfax, regarding Tom Ligon, who then has the stones (or Marisa Redanty) to criticize anyone of promoting a personal agenda via anonymity or alias, and asking they be removed from a site.

    These people are clowns.

    Plus, the posts are nothing but personal, tit-for-tat childishness.

    Discuss substance, or zip it.

    On a substantive note, the New York Times has two tech/business articles today. One scrutinizes the accelerating implosion of Hulu. Viacom is dropping The Daily Show and The Colbert Report from Hulu. The Daily Show is their third highest watched show, and is a huge loss for Hulu. The trend is towards Hulu going out of business as they scramble to satisfy content providers by producing a profit. They are currently deep in the red, with no end in sight.

    The other piece of news is Tivo has just introduced a new box that will throw up on your TV screen an array of choices for any particular piece of content you may wish to watch. Meaning, you can watch a show, via the web, for free, you can watch the broadcast feed, you can watch a YouTube slice of it, any and all options for viewing: broadcast or internet will be listed, and you can choose.

    Will it catch on? Probably not, the article concludes. But, it's another upgrade in the Tivo experience, it's just must-have is probably not going to happen.

    I bring this up because the moderate merger-heads think this is all confirming their belief the internet will not be monetized, or that it's years and years away, and SAG or AFTRA or AIMA can live with the current new media terms.

    In fact, the exact opposite is true. The take-away from all this experimentation and research to monetize is proof that content providers have arrived at the firm conclusion that "free" is no business model, but a recipe for bankruptcy, which these articles make mention of.

    ReplyDelete
  13. So, once again, where will SAG be in new media, if it survives as SAG long enough to address it in 2011? (it will)

    Nowhere, that's where. And everyone knows it. Anyone thinking clearly understands the future is digital - in fact, the present is digital. The struggle is mighty, but it will be solved. Monetization is just a question of time, and SAG will have to do what it ran away from in 2008-2009 - the moderates that is: get a fair new media deal.

    The precedent they "negotiated" is a disaster: tiny fixed rates. There are foolish moderate partisans on Sagwatch and Showfax arguing SAG simply needs to go in with a well researched series of arguments and proposals, and that, somehow the AMPTP will say "well, we are truly awed by your research - let's make a deal that you like."

    This is the height of naivete, the same sort of dangerous, immature thinking that got SAG in its current situation: being bled dry by its supposed "leaders" to so weaken it, the next attempt to merge will succeed.

    But the membership of SAG is getting very, very restless. They want the current leaders of SAG to represent SAG, not undermine it, and the word is spreading that the leaders are, in fact, actively pursuing the weakening of SAG, by not fighting or even objecting to the wholesale give-away of TV pilots to AFTRA to facilitate merger, with the aid of the AMPTP.

    This plays directly into charges of failure in your responsibilities to your own membership. You were elected to strengthen and advance SAG, and you are failing in that task. Completely failing.

    The membership of SAG will not tolerate rank collusion to kill SAG. They want your best efforts to strengthen the union and get a fair deal in new media in 2011. That will take a complete reversal of the current approach of Howard, Aquino and White, who want to kill SAG via merger.

    The patience of the average SAG actor has already run out with these people. Despite everything they pulled off: admirable in a kind of cold, bottom-line, political series of moves - but it must lead to signs to the membership you took over to make their lot significantly better, not worse.

    And it's going from already downgrading, substantially, via big give-aways and roll-backs in the 2009 contract, to, quite possibly, worse.

    That's a recipe for expulsion from office, either as a result of the vote, or a lawsuit for undermining your fiduciary responsibilities to the membership who elected you to fight for them - not for AFTRA, and not for the AMPTP.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Angry Matt Mulhern.
    Banned from most legitimate websites.
    Fired from a play for obstreperous behavior.
    Failed career.
    Failed actor.
    Coward who has never participated in union processes.
    Can't even speak at a meeting.
    N9o agent.
    No committee work.
    No acting work.
    No life.
    Just posting threats of violence and mayhem.
    Wife divorcing him.
    Children fed up and going to the police.
    Police stations collecting evidence.
    In the gutter.
    Skid row.
    Fat, swollen and grotesque.
    Coming to a theater near you.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I don't know what to make of the above post, or it's being allowed on this site, but I think it supports the contention of the previous commenter. This is substantive?

    ReplyDelete
  16. That post accurately delineates the qualities of Matt Mulhern - the rant-poster above. that IS "substantive."

    ReplyDelete