Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Dish on Some of the Latest SAG/AFTRA Stuff from Jonathan Handel's Digital Media Law Blog

SAG’s Hollywood branch, dominated by the hardline Membership First faction, has passed a motion forming a task force to explore “acquisition of actors of AFTRA,” reports SAGWatch. The purpose of the awkwardly-phrased motion is evidently to eliminate AFTRA’s jurisdiction over television acting (long a stated goal of MF), leaving it with only broadcasters (newscasters, weather reporters, etc.), singers and others, but not actors. To the same end, various MF-ers, including some who supported the motion, are running in the now-in-progress AFTRA board elections, the better to dismantle AFTRA from within.

All in all, it’s yet another anti-AFTRA campaign, courtesy of the faction whose record of accomplishment includes no ratified contracts, continued opposition to the approved deal on the table, a ten month stalemate, a national board meeting featuring a 28-hour filibuster, a lawsuit against their own union (which continues to this day despite rejection at both the trial and appellate levels), a gaping budget deficit, a loss of almost all pilots and new series to AFTRA, contract rates that are lower than AFTRA’s and will continue to be so for at least the next two years, a loss of tens of millions of dollars in wages to date (due to lower rates in effect during the stalemate), a virtual halt to studio theatrical production for the duration of the stalemate, denigration of the union’s own membership as “frightened little children” and of the union’s own lawyers as “liars,” continued factionalism and infighting, disparagement of AFTRA as a “scumbag union,” and the fostering of enmity from members of other unions (particularly IATSE, obviously AFTRA, and, no doubt, the DGA) throughout the industry. Quite a platform for the upcoming SAG elections.