LABOR WATCH-- I just got out of a special meeting called by SAG-AFTRA union leadership to share a TV/ Theatrical negotiations update with the membership. When I saw the letter on the website to all of us from Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White and Gabrielle Carteris, SAG-AFTRA President and Chair of the Negotiating Committee, I was surprised to see that it did not say that a reasonable agreement had been reached and we would be called upon to ratify. (Photo above: Jennifer Caldwell.)
Instead it said that the AMPTP has “responded with outrageous rollbacks that cut to the core of our basic terms and conditions.” It said that the National Board of SAG-AFTRA has authorized the Negotiating Committee to request a strike authorization referendum “unless a satisfactory agreement is reached by June 30, 2017.”
Now, anybody who keeps up with the trades in the Biz probably knows that we actors have had our differences. Some have said we are an opinionated and outspoken lot, without much reservation or hesitation in our self-expression.
From the background performer to the series regular, unwillingness on the part of the AMPTP to bargain fairly is for all of us, bad news. It’s not good for producers either; as we all have to work together to make this industry thrive. I hope we don’t have to have a strike. I will be hard. It’s hard enough to get work at all as it is.
But the rubber is meeting the road all around the world in every arena. No one wants a strike but we have to be able to make a living. I feel that our negotiating team deserves an authorization to use that tool if necessary.
I can’t really say much else about what went on at the meeting due to confidentiality. When it was over and I’d said my last goodbyes, I wound my way through the maze of buildings, courtyards, bridges and ponds that make up the Sportsmens’ Lodge in Studio City where I’ve been to so many meetings.
I thought about how much is hinging on this negotiation. I thought of all the shows I love and hope to work on. I thought of all the people everywhere who are fighting for a fair shake. I thought of the spirit of unity I felt in the room tonight with my colleagues. And I felt hope.
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(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Jennifer can be reached at email@example.com. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jennifercald - Twitter: @checkingthegate ... And her website: Jenniferhcaldwell.com)