Why SAG/AFTRA merger had better not fail this time

Posted on May 11, 2011 by

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Once again, SAG/AFTRA are eyeing a merger, and this time around, it had better not fail, for the very sake of the careers in SAG and AFTRA. Why? Perhaps, Backstage Espresso may have had the most interesting outtake in this article: “actors only win fights when choreography is involved”. At such a time, where new forms of media cannot be ignored, there has to be a collaborative effort of industry professionals across generations, to figure out what is being done, who profits, and how much a voice over talent should be paid now, and for longevity of career. In short, every bit of knowledge is required from all corners of the industry to make sense of it. Dismissing knowledge is a mistake, and right now, they could be going about this the wrong way.

Why?

By 2011, the human race has pretty much figured out a plan based around our life expectancy of 75-90 years. We basically earn the money we do throughout our entire lives to take care of ourselves, careers, family etc. with the goal of one day retiring and never having to work again. I say this because right out of the starting gate, I worry SAG made a mistake:

  • The first move SAG’s national board of directors decided to do was establish a 13-member task force to work with AFTRA in developing a plan to merge.
  • Now, in a business environment online, that includes as many as 600 million Facebook users, is this 13-member team going to know how to adapt these unions to the changing business environment?
  • Are they going to dismiss the various ways artists can make money on their own, because they need to be acknowledged?
  • Will they understand how to protect talent in new forms of media involving mobile devices, on-demand, web TV, and downloading of content?
  • Or will they take action to protect what they have been doing traditionally, because they know exactly when they plan to retire?
  • Will those who hold higher places, above task forces, be thinking of “the union of tomorrow”, or just dismiss it, and protect what they have in place already?

Regardless, “united in unemployment”, does not make sense. In a time where people are very short on trust, and lacking something to believe in, just as times were in the 1930’s, the SAG/AFTRA merger will give people something to believe in, unless of course it fails. Another failure would cement a separation of markets between “established traditional method”, and “the established voice talent of the future”. Change is the only constant in life, and this is not the time to remain divided.

“A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand”
Abraham Lincoln
June 1858