Don't Get Played Cuz I'm Not Playin' Around
Every day somebody calls to ask me, "Is there going to be strike?" While I work for a non-profit that happens to have "SAG" in the name, I do not work for the Guild and I'm not "in on" the negotiations, so I really don't know anything more than the next well-informed individual. I did, however, almost throttle a guy who stopped by to ask how he should go about voting on the AFTRA agreement cuz he doesn't check his mail and his address "probably wasn't updated" with them. His attitude was so lackadaisical that I had to bite my tongue to remain professional...but I think I still rolled my eyes and gave him a death stare.
I applaud Mr. Kiesche for continually posting contract information on this blog and for keeping everyone informed. It's not light and funny, so hopefully your eyes don't gloss over it.
Until recently, I imagined SAG and the producers sitting directly across from each other in negotiations for 8 hours a day just staring at each other. No talking. Maybe some sneering. And then we all get an email notice that says, "Negotiations will continue tomorrow!" Well apparently that's not correct. I've been told they talk to each other for about a half an hour each day.
Alright, I'm not being flip. This is a really tense time, and humor is often the best way to diffuse tension. But for once, I do have a little inside information and I'm going to share it with you. Yesterday, I talked to a friend, colleague, SAG board member and fellow actor who has been in the negotiations since they started and I asked him if he thought there was going to be strike. His answer was surprising (albeit "unofficial," so take what you will from the information). He said that more than half of the producers/studios were willing to strike a fair deal in May, but a faction of the producers wanted to wait to deal with AFTRA individually first. Read: they intentionally stalled the process to play their hand. AFTRA played right into it and, essentially, created this current boiler room. No doubt, SAG & AFTRA screwed all of us by negotiating separately which is a whole other topic, but AFTRA members have the power to change that. Don't be played by the producers. Make SAG & AFTRA go back to the table together. My friend believes the producers have shown they are willing to negotiate fairly if AFTRA gets out of the way. And I don't know about you, but that's the first I've heard that they were willing to budge at all, which gives me hope.
Get the facts. Vote NO on the AFTRA contract. Voting no doesn't necessarily equal a strike. I "like her, I really like" Sally Fields, but who cares if she's voting YES? Something tells me money isn't an issue for her.