Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Labor Pains

Just as the big Writers Guild conflict officially draws to a close, with 93.6% of the the WGA membership voting to ratify the new contract, the actors are starting to make some noise about their contract, which expires in June.

George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Mot Shank and Meryl Streep put this minimalist ad in the trades, urging SAG leaders to begin their negotiations early to stem a possible actor-walkout in the summer.

That's just part of it. Now there's an internal debate on whether or not to limit the voting pool within SAG. An excerpt, for the click-shy:
But another group of SAG members -- including A-listers and rank-and-file actors -- are asking the guild to make a key change before sitting down with the AMPTP. A letter to SAG leadership currently being circulated by actor Ned Vaughn asks the union to restrict voting on major contracts to only actors who regularly work under those contracts -- a practice commonly known as "qualified voting." As of press time, nearly 1,000 members -- including Ben Affleck, Kevin Bacon, Sally Field, and Gwyneth Paltrow -- have attached their names to the letter.

Vaughn states in the letter, "The challenging reality is that two-thirds of SAG's 120,000 members consistently earn less than $1,000 per year as SAG actors, and only one in five SAG members earns even $7,500 annually. But anyone holding a SAG card can vote on our major contracts... . If those who approve or reject contracts don't have a concrete stake in the outcome, they are vulnerable to manipulation…. What's more, the possibility of a job action is taken much more seriously if it comes from those who are actually doing the work."

Vaughn told Back Stage he does not intend to prevent actors who make under $7,500 per year from voting. "This is not a grievance of the working members against those who happen not to be working," he said. "There are top stars on our supporters' list, but there are also plenty of people who are struggling actors who have noted in their messages to us that they themselves might be excluded from voting on certain contracts -- but that they understand that this is critical to strengthening SAG so that it can obtain the best contracts for all of its members."
There are already actors voicing their dissent on this idea. I personally think it's a pretty outrageous idea, since almost all actors have to start out in that starving category. SAG's numbers are immense and they're essentially going to divide themselves. For what? The phantom concern that actors who AREN'T working on a regular basis are just going to say, "Fuck it, let's have us'selves a strike!"

Poppycock, I say.

For the SAG-card-holding actors who work only intermittently, a strike means the death of hope. No one wants a strike.

Even the threat of a strike hurts because it puts productions on limbo.

But the one thing the WGA had going into our strike was a public sense of unity. Whereas SAG is starting theirs with a sense of division. And that is no damn good.

In other news:

Brad Renfro Has a Posse and the Academy doesn't give two shits!

Extreme Virtual Celebrity Makeovers


Post a Comment

<< Home