Actors' union in ugly blacklist scheme

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Fascistic union edict usurps workers' constitutional right to dues option

With the resumption of SAG's contract talks in limbo, the guild's toughening up its ban on members working for nonunion producers. The Screen Actors Guild recently notified its 120,000 members in a "Check Your Backside" message that, starting on Jan. 1, it will "vigorously" enforce the ban on nonunion work for new-media productions.

"Rule One states that 'no member shall work for a producer who is not signatory to the appropriate SAG agreement,' " SAG said in the missive. "Rule One is printed on the back of every SAG membership card. SAG members may also work on new-media projects if they are covered under an AFTRA collective bargaining agreement."

SAG's master contract expired June 30 - the same day the majors made their final offer - and members currently work under the expired contract's terms in features, primetime and new media. SAG's negotiating committee met Wednesday with federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez about its stalled contract negotiations, but no date's been set for restarting talks between SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

Earlier this year, SAG's national board unanimously OKd the move to launch the Rule One campaign. "The goal is to make sure that members insist on basic protections when they work in new media," national director of organizing Todd Amorde told Daily Variety.

Guild leaders have become increasingly concerned in recent years over actors circumventing discipline under Rule One. SAG announced last year that members filing for "financial core" status -- under which a member resigns SAG membership and withholds dues spent by the guild on political activities but can still work on union jobs -- generally won't be allowed back into the guild.

Aside from expulsion, Rule One violators can be fined or suspended after a trial board hearing.

With SAG and the majors awaiting the next step in the mediation process, the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees and the AMPTP will return to the bargaining table today -- seven months after they concluded three days of negotiations without reaching a deal. Both sides have set aside three days for the talks.

The current IATSE deal expires in August and covers about 25,000 West Coast workers in 18 locals. If the AMPTP can make a deal with IATSE, it will mark the sixth such pact signed by the majors this year, following deals with the DGA, WGA and casting directors plus two TV agreements with AFTRA.

Before turning to mediation, SAG unsuccessfully attempted to restart negotiations Sept. 30 by announcing a trio of "threshold" issues: new-media jurisdiction for all productions, rather than the $15,000-per-minute budget threshold the majors propose; securing residual fees for made-for-Internet productions when those productions are reused on new-media platforms; and continuing force majeure protections for actors, which the majors have sought to eliminate.

For its part, the AMPTP's insisted it won't change the final offer to SAG and stressed that its terms are similar to those in the WGA, DGA and AFTRA deals.


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