“He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

I’m nowhere close to Hollywood’s “A” list, but when they opened it up to the rest of us, I signed this letter:

Dear SAG Board Members, officers and staff:

We feel very strongly that SAG members should not vote to authorize a strike at this time. We don’t think that an authorization can be looked at as merely a bargaining tool. It must be looked at as what it is — an agreement to strike if negotiations fail.

We support our union and we support the issues we’re fighting for, but we do not believe in all good conscience that now is the time to be putting people out of work.

None of our friends in the other unions are truly happy with the deals they made in their negotiations. Three years from now all the union contracts will be up again at roughly the same time. At that point if we plan and work together with our sister unions we will have incredible leverage.

As hard as it may be to wait those three years under an imperfect agreement, we believe this is what we must do. We think that a public statement should be made by SAG recognizing that although this is not a deal we want, it is simply not a time when our union wants to have any part in creating more economic hardship while so many people are already suffering.

Let’s take the high road. Let’s unite with our brothers and sisters in the entertainment community and prepare for the future, three years down the line. Then, together, let’s make a great deal.

Sincerely,

[About 130 actors who are on the "A" list, according to the people who decide what the "A" list is. And your pal Wil Wheaton, who is not on the A list, but still struggles to qualify for his health insurance every year.]

Allow me to give a little perspective on where I’m coming from: I’m a former member of SAG’s Hollywood board of directors. I’ve chaired committees, and I’ve sat in on negotiations. I’m about as pro-union and pro-actor as you can get, and I hate the insulting offer the AMPTP has given us. But I’m also a realist. If we go on strike in February, we won’t hurt the moguls enough to force them to negotiate with us, they’ll just fill up on “reality” programming and produce new works under the disastrous contract those idiots at AFTRA agreed to, while SAG’s health and pension plans are destroyed. We’ll definitely hurt our own members, and all of our friends from other departments who work with us on the set. Yeah, I realize that SAG’s first responsibility is to its own members, but we don’t exist in a vacuum, and we have to acknowledge that fact.

Let me be clear: The moguls can go to hell seventeen different ways for being greedy and unreasonable, and trying to bust our unions. In three years I’ll be the first in line to fight them as long as it takes … but we aren’t coming from a position of strength right now, and everyone knows it, especially the AMPTP. Producers and networks won’t feel the pain of a strike in any significant way, but a – and we all know that they’ll do whatever they can to drag it out as long as possible; look at what they did to the WGA – will likely ruin the lives of more middle and working class people than I care to think about.

For the SAG board to even consider voluntarily stopping work when we’re falling deeper and deeper into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression isn’t just stupid, it’s recklessly irresponsible. SAG needs to face the reality we’re stuck with: AFTRA sold us out. AFTRA fucked all actors everywhere by negotiating with the AMPTP on their own and agreeing to shockingly horrible terms. The AFTRA negotiators failed all actors, whether they’re currently SAG, currently AFTRA, or are still hoping to join. Those “negotiators” should be ashamed of themselves, and they shouldn’t be allowed in the same building as a contract ever again.

I believe the things SAG is asking for are entirely reasonable, I believe they reflect the reality of the entertainment industry in 2008 and beyond, and I believe that they are vital for actors to continue to make a living in the future – especially internet jurisdiction and residuals. In any other economic environment, I’d be willing to walk out in a heartbeat to get them. But we have to be realistic. People are losing their homes, can’t afford basic healthcare, and are struggling to support their families. SAG is not negotiating from a position of strength (thanks again for that, AFTRA, you’re awesome) but in three years, we can join our sister unions and we will be.

Sun Tzu teaches us that “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” SAG leadership needs to be responsible and realistic; this is not the time to have this fight. If you’re a SAG member, I urge you to vote no on the strike authorization vote, and be ready to fight like hell in three years.

31 thoughts on ““He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.””

  1. Good on you, Wil. I wholeheartedly support getting a decent deal, but you’re right — on every point you make. Tom Hanks is with you and so are other “A” listers — so maybe SAG will listen. In the mean time, the AFTRA negotiators can burn in 7 kinds of hell for the Insane Deal they cut. For those of us not part of SAG, but “SAG-Friendly” – is there anything we can do to help at this point?

  2. Thank you for a great post! I look at all of the really great scripted shows ABC cancelled this season and they were all SAG shows. And then NBC decided to replace all their scripted 10:00PM shows, SAG shows, with Leno. I was working on a pilot and rumblings around the set were that the show would be picked up just because it was AFTRA. I have this conspiracy theory that the networks are battening down the hatches so that they don’t get stuck holding the bag like they did with the WGA strike, and boy does that suck, especially as it seemed like we were juuuust starting to crawl out of the reality television hole of suckage. As a(n occasionally) working actor, thank you for saying it better than I ever could!

  3. There’s too much at stake in this economy to pick new battles in a war that’ll be (deservedly) hard-won. It’s a smart letter, Wil, and the best thing for the people you’re concerned for (your own family included).

  4. Seconded, Dawn.
    Unlike the WGA, I can easily see the SAG being painted with the same brush as the UAW, no matter how little they deserve it.
    Here’s hoping that the bigwigs in the union let cooler heads prevail.
    And in 3 years, the fans are likely to stand behind you as well.

  5. Thanks Wil. As a member of one of your sister guilds, I am pleased to see this stand of solidarity with *us* this time. We all stood by the WGA for a cause that was right, and in time we will hopefully all stand together and agree across the board to what is fair…and then we’ll fight the good fight once again. No one guild should be entitled to more than another, and a united front is the loudest voice.
    ~LV

  6. I’m so glad you wrote this… I completely agree with you, and I know a lot of our mutual friends agree too. I’m crossing my fingers that people vote the right way.

  7. For everyone else who hasn’t been following up on this news, I’ve done a series of (little-read) blog posts about these negotiations since I started writing for Movie Make-out.com this summer, and the first post I did is here:
    http://www.moviemake-out.com/2008/07/11/the-latest-on-the-sagamptp-contract-negotiations
    I know that none of the MMO regulars are reading these posts, and yet I still keep writing about them because it’s important.
    @Wil: Is it cool if I hijack some of your letter to add to my post from today?

  8. You’d probably have the moral high ground either way, but this is just so incredibly decent of you guys.
    Now, I recognize most of the names on that list, but I thought the A list consisted of maybe five or six people? In any case, nice to see you (and Garret Dillahunt, and a few others) up there.

  9. I’m glad you wrote this post and expressed your opinions. I think you’re very right that sometimes it’s just not the time to fight. I hope other SAG members read this and see a different side to the coin.

  10. @Trisha Lynn: It’s not Wil’s letter, it’s an open letter from some of the SAG membership that Wil has also signed. You’d have to go to the source to find out what the quoting permissions are, although since it’s an open letter, I can’t see how quoting part of it would be forbidden.

  11. GOTTA LOVE YOU, WIL.
    You’re so right there’s not much insight or personal opinion I can add to enhance your remarks.
    Thanks for explaining it to all involved and to all, like your fans not in the business, who DO care.

  12. Wil it’s hard as hell for me to write this because I generally respect you and your opinions but I have to totally disagree with you.
    This vote for strike authorization is a test of the actors’s mettle. It’s very true that the whole industry is running in a really wonky way but what you might not grasp is how fricking scared the moguls hiding behind AMPTP are right now that actors will call all their bluffs i.e. strike and you’ll hurt the crews and support industries (like their unwillingness to deal with the WGA and send them into an unnecessary strike had nothing to do with that?), strike and we’ll just go AFTRA (uh hello AFL-CIO and Federal labor laws plus a new Democratic president and mostly Democratic Congress who are theoretically more pro-union), strike and we’ll run crying to Congress to make you stop (they’ve already started that process hoping to be bailed out of even one exec coming to the negotiating table and having to deal fairly and honestly with actors), strike and we’ll put on more reality shows (hint advertisers are pulling sponsorships of these because they get crappier ratings and ROIs than scripted shows), strike and we’ll fire even more employees at the conglomerates…you get the idea.
    It’s all BS. And there are so many tells that you can tell they’ve clearly got a crappy hand that it’s not even funny. Letters to Rep Pelosi and Senators Boxer & Feinstein, $100,000+ a pop trade ads in the entertainment journals, a mainstream media that they own or support with ads that is being forced to spin the stories their way (many of my talented entertainment journalist friends have been fired and you should see the drecky reporters they’ve kept at the LA Times, the NY Times & The Hollywood Reporter who will write what they say even though some of them are glorified hacks), advertisers who are in open revolt over the fact that ad rates keep going up while viewership is down (Leno gets lower ratings — 1.4 than My Own Worst Enemy did –2.0– but NBC killed the scripted show that advertisers were cool with and more viewers watched to replace it with a lower rated show), shareholders and investors who are mad about losses in general but particularly mad when they find out the losses were preventable (hello 2007-2008 WGA strike).
    I doubt I’m convincing you here but answer me this. You shoot down the strike authorization and then what?
    A magical SAG AFTRA merger takes place? Sure one actors union sounds cool but how will you make that happen?
    Try for a better deal in 3 years with all the other unions and if it doesn’t work with them then you go strike? What makes you think the DGA, IATSE & AFTRA will join up with you then? Because they weren’t motivated to join with you this time so what in 3 years will change that? And if you have to strike what makes you think the WGA wants to go out again in only 3 years? I talk to my good friends I made on the WGA strike all the time via email and while they’re cool with helping actors out now or in the very near future, that boat may have sailed in 2011.
    And I wouldn’t count on the fans who have experience with fighting these battles wanting to do this in 2011. Wil my ass is extremely tired of keeping up on the news of this (I’ve been at it for a solid year), my friend Jill who is battling cancer and running charity auctions to benefit the Actors Fund is not going to want to have to relaunch them in 2011, shows will change and people’s interests will too. We cannot be expected to volunteer for this long for you all because as much as we love you actors we have families and friends and lives outside of fandom. You’ll likely have to rely on newbies to help you and they’ll make mistakes that prolong getting you deals, especially if you’re on strike. There is a point that for us it stops being worth it.
    Anyway that’s my perspective. If you don’t want to heed it that’s your business, but you of all people know how fast things move online (in ~3 years YouTube has gone from zero to worldwide household name that makes money in under a year Hulu is making cash from US viewers and wait til it goes worldwide). You are also privy to the inner workings of SAG, perhaps some of its history (the screw job actors took on home video in the 1980s and before that the screwing that was delivered to actors in films made pre-1960 when the idea of showing movies on the then ‘new media’ of TV was born…to this day only films made after 1960 pay residuals to actors when they are shown on TV). And you exemplify an upper middle class actor. I really really thought you of all people would get it having had down times in your career and to some degree depending more on residuals than new acting gigs. I guess I was wrong.
    Anyway if my words don’t convince you maybe Eric Bogosian’s will. I wish I could write as brilliantly as he does.
    http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/letter-from-eric-bogosian-to-sag-members/
    Good luck to you Wil…I hope it all works out okay for you in the end but hope is not an effective strategy in dealing with the money grubbing execs either in the short term or the long term
    And I sure hope your fans don’t hate on me for disagreeing with you or speaking my mind but that’s a risk I’m willing to take (most of them I don’t think will, they seem like smart reasonable polite people).

  13. Wil, I haven’t read many of your entries, but I’m already hoping the political stuff will be far and few between. I’m sure it’s NOT why you are adored by your fans. Rather, political opinion is something we all endure, with great suffering, from our loved ones… occasionally. No politician can provide you hapiness. I’m sure this truth has revealed itself to you since November. Please continue to inspire us with your OWN works.

  14. Good luck on this Wil. I just saw a posting where NBC might already be planning on feeling any programing holes with BBC material.
    While I’m a fan of many BBC shows, it just frustrates me that a US network would fill time with their shows without any regard to the local actors, crew members that are out of work during a strike. Not to mention all the other companies that rely on the entertainment industry in Hollywood.
    I found this at http://www.sliceofscifi.com/2008/12/17/bbc-renews-merlin/

  15. The economic situation is not likely to improve significantly in the next three years. Now is the time to fight for a fair wage and working conditions.
    Is S.A.G. there to worry about the public, the producers, the studios, or their performer members? Then let’s stand tough and resolute that these terms need to be met today. There will just be another excuse to not stand tough three years down the line.
    What haven’t we learned from past negotiations with producers for VHS and DVD residuals? We got punked then, and we are getting punked now.
    What would the motivating factor be for those 130 actors to ask us not to authorize a strike? Maybe they aren’t actually affected by these low level deals, and rarely ever work for scale or have to rely on residuals to pay the bills.
    The 130 or so actors that signed this petition are also of the level to be producers themselves. In fact, many of the names on that list are actually producers.
    130 vs. the needs of over 70,000 actors.
    Without our strength of unity, what do we have as a labor union?
    Now is the perfect time to twist their nuts over the coals and extract that which is owed to us.

  16. Wil, I’ve read your blog for ages… since WWdN was in its infancy (pre-broken). I’m a military man, but I’ve done some acting on the side. I’m SAG-eligible from my work on ARMwSL (Alien Robot Movie with Shia LeBeouf). I’ve done stage and television as well. If I had the spare cash, I would absolutely join SAG. However, I’m with VDO on this.
    Years ago, AMPTP swore that if actors took the home video residuals at the rate they were given, they would be readdressed in the next contract. Never happened. AMPTP in the WGA negotiations asked the writer’s to take the DVD residual increases off the table and didn’t offer a SINGLE thing in return. So, my currency with believing the AMPTP is spent. They say, sure we’ll talk more about new media next time around… but in the meantime, we’d like to take force majeure away from you. It’s hard to know which direction to be facing when you bend over because there is no shortage of studios who want to frak actors in the arse.
    I made more in residuals on Transformers than I did the day I actually worked on set. The studios want to take your work on Criminal Minds and rerun it ONLY on the Internet. What does that do to Wil’s resids? Makes them thinner. AMPTP doesn’t want to pay you for shows streamed online, and you’ll make only a fraction on iTunes downloads.
    Who do I blame for all this? AFTRA. Yes, they screwed you. You know it, I know it, Sam Rubin knows it, EVERYBODY knows it. I agree that their shitty deal is causing nothing but pain for SAG members. However, now is not the time to take it in the ass just because some other people like taking it in the ass.
    The worst thing that can happen is that actors begin in-fighting. Yet here we are. Ultimately, SAG may end up having to take the shitty deal. But I wouldn’t give up without a fight, and I’m not sure why so many A-Listers (who don’t have to worry about minimums because they make their own deals … and some of whom ARE producers) are so quick to wave the white flag.
    Dude, I love you in a non-gay way. Regardless of your opinions, I will always read your blog. However, I’m just floored that someone with SO much at stake in this negotiation would sign on so quickly to a NO.
    Thanks for reading… and take care! Like you, I hope all this BS ends soon.

  17. As merely a fan of drama and acting, I’m beyond appalled at NBC. I was prepared to hold my nose at the prospect that when ER ended NBC would drop the satisfying Grant Tinker Thursday formula for something cheap and awful, but I never imagined they’d destroy all of prime time as we know it.
    It’s horrible to think how many creative people will have to look elsewhere for work because NBC isn’t interested in being creative.
    When you think about how many guest actors passed through NBC Thursday dramas: Hill Street Blues (criminals and victims of the week), LA Law (litigants and opposing lawyers and judges of the week), and ER (patients of the week), it’s staggering. Now NBC has closed the show and everybody has to find other work. Jay Leno? They might as well put on infomercials.
    It’s sadly ironic that just as HDTV and digital surround sound are achieving market penetration so millions could see TV drama as more cinematic and exciting than ever, the networks are less interested than ever being dramatic, let alone cinematic. The cheap shit they want to put on might as well be on black and white vacuum tubes.
    In conclusion, fuck NBC for not even trying. May viewers revolt and may the next head of NBC be maybe actually interested in television. I’ll be over on Fox.

  18. I completely agree with you on this topic. I was raised Union (Elevator workers/mechanics 1801) and am now a teacher. Unions will only continue to be viable and protective if we know when to use and when not to use the power behind it. In the current economic crisis the last thing any union needs is to appear greedy in any way. Unfortunately, if SAG were to strike, the people would focus on those getting $20,000,000 a picture, not the guys struggling to meet minimums for health insurance. I’m glad you wrote this Wil and I applaud your position.

  19. As a fan, I really hope a strike doesn’t happen. The WGA strike killed more good TV than even Fox’s talented programming directors had (Firefly, RIP). That being said, who do you think the bad guys in a SAG strike would be? It won’t be the actors. The studios and producers pour way too much cash and effort into making the big name actors likable in the press so that people keep going to see their movies. They won’t trash them, because they know that the strike will end, and they’ll have to undo that damage.
    Besides, as the WGA showed, it’s easy to make the moguls into the bad guys. Even in professional sports, where players are paid more for one game than their fans make all year, to play a game that those fans play for fun, the fans still side with the players. They complain about them, call the greedy jerks, but they still side against the owners.
    Yeah, a SAG strike will hurt a lot of other people. Crew, writers and people in various ancillary jobs and industries. Yeah, the economy really sucks right now. But ask yourself this, given 3 years to prepare, do you really think that the producers won’t manage to put themselves into a position where a strike will hurt you far more than them? Right now, they’re hurting just like everyone else.
    The AMPTP is slowly choking writers, actors, and other laborers to death. Compassion is a noble impulse, but it needs to be examined in the larger picture here.

  20. I’ve read a couple news stories on this – but I really don’t know much about it. I don’t work in this industry, I have been a union member in the past (UFCW) but am not one now.
    I do have a question that I’m sure someone here can answer. This letter – is basically saying not to let everyone vote on if they should do this or not? Is that correct? Or is it saying that some subset of the union should not vote on it?
    This confuses me because I tend to want to let everyone have their say whenever possible and when I read the letter it seems to say that people should not even have the opportunity to choose.

  21. I agree with you, Wil. I also have to say that anyone who makes their living doing something other than working a dead-end 9-5 in a cubicle should be thankful. Some people in Los Angeles throw a tantrum and forget how lucky they are to be part of something creative AND get paid for it. This is not the case in the rest of the country. I recommend that the SAG members who want to protest drive back to Auburn, Alabama and stand around if they don’t want to work. That will give them some perspective.

  22. Well put. I think it’s easy to be passionate about yourself and your causes, in this case SAG negotiations, but the real measuring stick of a rational thinker is one who can take those passions temper them with perspective.
    Oh and btw, you get +2 ranks to your writing cred by including the Sun Tzu quote.

  23. Why should we vote to authorize a strike?
    We need to show management that we are willing to fight to preserve our ability to earn a living as union performers; otherwise, management will take that away from us. Nearly half of our earnings as union performers come from residuals, but management wants us to allow them to make programs for the Internet and other new media non-union and with no residuals. This means that as audiences shift from watching us on their televisions to watching us on their computers and cell phones our ability to earn a living will go away and future generations of actors may never be able to earn a living through their craft. This change will happen faster than you think.
    To add insult to injury, management also insists that we eliminate force majeure protections from our contract. These protections have existed since the first SAG contract in 1937 and protect you when production stops as the result of an “act of God” like a natural disaster or a strike by another union, such as the WGA strike earlier this year. This is an enormous rollback that will leave actors without one of the most basic protections of a union contract.
    What is the effect of voting “yes” to authorize a strike?
    Voting “yes” does not mean that there will automatically be a strike. A strike authorization is a tool that gives us more leverage in negotiations and we intend to use it to try to get a fair deal. If we receive “yes” votes from at least 75% of the members who vote on this referendum, the National Board will have the ability to call a strike, but it must vote to do that, and that won’t happen before we attempt further negotiations to reach a deal with management.
    Why does management believe we should endorse non-union, residual-free work in New Media?
    Management claims this bad deal is necessary because they need to “experiment” with new media and they claim they will renegotiate these terms with us in the future. We have already agreed to most of management’s new media terms, however, and have proposed, in the areas where we still disagree, extremely flexible terms for new media based on our successful low budget theatrical contracts and our nearly 800 made-for-new media contracts with independent producers. Our terms will allow management the latitude to experiment using union actors.
    And how can we believe that management will ever improve these new media terms when they still won’t improve the home video residual formula after 22 years? Right now all the actors on a given cast share 1% of the revenue generated through DVD sales because of a formula we agreed to in 1986 when management needed to “experiment” with home video. In this negotiation, we have asked only that management at least make pension and health contributions on DVD residuals, rather than making us pay them ourselves out of our paltry 1%. They have refused even that!
    The basic cable residual formula was also negotiated early in the history of that medium to reflect the then “experimental” status of basic cable programming and pays only a small fraction of network television residuals. It is now over 20 years later, 27% of all television ad dollars are now spent on basic cable, and the basic cable formula still pays only a small fraction of network television residuals. Management simply does not have a history of ever ending their “experiments” and paying us fairly.
    The reality is that management is opportunistic and they believe they can force these concessions on us because they believe we are weak and divided. We need your vote to prove them wrong.
    Don’t all these terms just go away at the end of 3 years anyway because management has agreed to a “sunset clause”?
    All the “sunset clause” means is that if management wants to maintain in future negotiations the bad new media deal they want to force on us now, they must write those terms down on a piece of paper and give it to us as a proposal. Do you really believe that this will provide us with any protection in a future negotiation if management decides that they like making non-union, residual-free programs in new media? The fact is that once management establishes a business model that relies upon non-union, residual-free production, it will be even harder to change their minds. Just look at how hard they continue to fight to avoid improving the home video formula, well after DVD’s have become their richest source of revenue.
    Haven’t the other Hollywood unions accepted this deal already? Why do we need a better deal?
    We are not looking for a “better” deal. We are looking for a deal that is different and that recognizes the unique needs of actors. No other union represents the actors who appear in motion pictures or the actors who account for over 95% of the earnings in primetime network television. While management likes to pretend, when it suits them, that “pattern bargaining” is somehow obligatory for unions in this industry, the fact is that we have a legal right to negotiate our own contract. And for good reason—the “pattern,” in many cases, affects us differently:
    The impact of sanctioning non-union made-for-new media programs is different for us. Many performers must rely on the collective bargaining power of the union to obtain fair terms of employment. Unlike the writer or director, a day performer or background actor may not have the leverage to negotiate fair terms for themselves. Performers, especially stunt performers, also have health and safety issues on the set that aren’t shared by writers or directors and they rely on the union to look out for them. And unlike writers or directors, our union faces a significant threat from non-union performers who want to provide producers with an alternative workforce they can use to make their product without having to comply with union terms and conditions. Allowing our employers to make non-union new media productions will allow these non-union actors to gain credits and experience, which will make non-union production easier and more attractive and thereby reduce the opportunities for union actors like us to get work.
    Allowing residuals-free new media production also impacts performers differently. Unlike writers and directors, most performers don’t earn enough in initial compensation to live on. Instead, we rely on residuals to get us through the lean times. As production inevitably shifts from traditional media to new media, the lack of residuals in new media will eventually choke off that vital source of income that enables us to stay in the profession even when we aren’t working so that we can audition, hone our craft and remain available for new roles. In such a world, many of us will be reduced to amateurs working day jobs to support our acting habit.
    There are already lots of differences between management’s new media proposal to us and their deals with the DGA and WGA. For example, management has agreed to set minimum payments for writers of made-for-new media programs, but refuses to do so for actors. Why doesn’t the pattern apply to this critical issue? There are other differences. The minimum residual for a TV show rerun on the Internet for six months is over $600 for a director or a writer, but only $22.77 for an actor who works as a day player. On the other hand, use of clips of an actor’s work on the Internet requires consent by the actor, but a director’s or writer’s work can be used as a clip on the Internet without their consent. Is that better, worse or just different? Management talks about their new media template like it is exactly the same for each union and can’t be changed. In fact, management has proposed varying new media provisions to different unions when it suited them, but they have refused when we have proposed reasonable and modest changes, like making sure all made-for-new media productions are done union and pay residuals.
    Are we sure that we have exhausted every opportunity to make a deal before asking for this authorization?
    We shouldn’t have to exhaust every opportunity to make a deal before asking for a strike authorization. Most successful unions ask for a strike authorization early on, sometimes before they even start bargaining, because management is more likely to take the union seriously if they know the members are willing to fight. We didn’t do that this time because the WGA strike had just ended, but our union needs to get back to the routine practice of approving a strike authorization well before we get to the expiration of the current contract. Actors elected by the membership to the SAG National Board decide by a vote if and when a strike should be called.
    As it happens, we have absolutely exhausted every possible opportunity to make a deal before asking for this authorization. We spent 42 days between April and July in hard bargaining with the AMPTP. In the months that followed, we bargained informally, met with CEO’s and educated our membership about the issues. Finally, we asked for a federal mediator to intervene. After nearly a month, management agreed to return to the bargaining table for a marathon mediation session that ran late into the night on two consecutive days until the mediator finally declared that it was pointless to continue.
    After all of that, management’s positions on the fundamental issues at stake in this negotiation are the same as they were on the first day of bargaining. On the other hand, we have pared down our demands, made painful concessions and offered compromise after compromise, all to no avail. It is crystal clear that without the support of our membership for this authorization, we will have no choice to but swallow whatever management sees fit to give us lock, stock and barrel.
    Is a strike really feasible considering how bad the economy is right now?
    The bad economy hurts management just as much as it hurts us. As uncertain and anxious as our employers are about the future of their businesses and of their own jobs, the prospect of a SAG membership willing to go to the mat and fight them is the last thing they want. Yes, the bad economy means that it will require more of a sacrifice from some of our members if in fact a strike becomes necessary, but remember that this union was founded and obtained its first contract during the depths of the Great Depression. Hard times do not mean that we stop demanding fair treatment from management.
    What can I do to help?
    Vote “yes” on the strike authorization referendum. It’s our best hope of obtaining a fair contract. Talk to your fellow SAG members wherever you can find them and convince them to vote “yes” too. Read your email and visit the SAG website to stay informed and learn about town hall meetings and other events in your area and make sure you attend. Better yet, bring another member with you. If you can’t attend, or prefer to express yourself in writing, email your thoughts and suggestions to [email protected]. We read every email that comes in.
    And most importantly, stay strong. Do not let management intimidate you into accepting less than you deserve. If we stay united, we will prevail.
    Stay informed by visiting SAG’s website to view new videos at SAG TV click http://www.sag.org/sag-tv and new posts at SAG Talk at http://www.sag.org/sag-talk and to see current information regarding the TV/Theatrical contract negotiations at http://www.sag.org/tvtheatrical-negotiations.
    Please email [email protected] with your questions or suggestions.

  24. Wil, long time reader, first time poster, I’m not an actor or involved in the entertainment industry at all, but this post took me out of lurker mode and made me register…
    You are obviously perfectly entitled to you opinion, and as a member of you union are perfectly entitled to express that opinion, certainly more entitled than I am, but the only power a union has is unity.
    “The union united will never be defeated”.
    A vote for strike authorization allows the negotiators to go into negotiations with a strong hand, it allows them to sit at the table with the ultimate weapon available to them (the threat of a srike) sitting openly in front of them like a colt 45. The opposing side would know that they entire SAG union has authorised them to strike if their demands are not met, and it gives the union the basis to fight from a position of power.
    In 3 years time it might be too late for you and your comrades because the precedent will already have been set.
    As a union member you have the right to voice your opinion, but if the vote is for strike authorization please support the majority, because if the union splits you will never win, not now, not 3 years from now.
    As for NBC buying BBC content, I don’t see how that would work. The BBC employs SAG members, and those who are not in SAG are in Equity or some other actors union, why would they allow themselves to be potentially blacklisted in America for being scabs? I can’t see the BBC risking a strike over here for the sake of bailing NBC out, I could be wrong of course, but I can’t see it happening, British WGA members supported the strike and I would expect British SAG members and members of affiliated unions to support the strike too.
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6KO90EdKB-g&feature=related

  25. RAH RAH SIS-BOOM-BAH! *waves crappy pom poms left over from aborted cheerleading career*
    You’re completely right about this. I hope that in three years I’ll be part of SAG and I’ll be there to fight right alongside you!

  26. Great post Wil.
    My brother is an AC in the movie/tv biz and I saw how crappy it was for him during the writer’s strike. While I was always very supportive of the writers (and remain so) it was also frustrating to see how them fighting for their justified cause created significant financial hardship for EVERYONE involved in the movie making process.
    It’s nice to know the actors- while they will and should eventually fight this fight- are indeed thinking of all the folks who make the magic.
    Love the blog, been reading for years, never posted. It inspired me to create my own years ago. Thanks!
    David

  27. I always advocate that one decide in one’s best interest, but few things warm the cockles of my heart like a broken union.
    Virtually all unions nowadays are more destructive than constructive for its members – look for no further referendum on unions than the disasters that are k-12 education, airlines, and LOL, Detroit.
    A SAG strike now would mimic the backlash as that seen from the writer’s strike. Meh – let ‘em do it. Better for all that it’s broken sooner than later.

  28. Wil, thanks for explaining your position so well to those of us who don’t act and really didn’t know anything about the strike, other than that it would mess up our TV and movie watching.

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