VOTE NO ON THE FINANCIALLY DAMAGING AND UNSAFE CONTRACT
A Letter from Pete Antico, SAG-AFTRA National Presidential Candidate
I was born in New York City and I pursued a career in the film business, in lieu of going to law school or pursuing a career in finance as much of my family did. I have worked for over 38 years as a Background Artist, an Actor, a Stunt Coordinator, and a Stuntman on such shows as Die Hard 2, Lethal Weapon 3, and Pearl Harbor to name a few. I have also performed in many commercials as an Actor and as a Stunt Performer.
I am running for the position of SAG-AFTRA National President in the upcoming election, and I am concerned about the financial future of our union and the future prospects for our performers, both young and old, to make a living. I am committed to restoring our union's strength, so that our older members can eventually retire with the assurance that the pension which they have contributed to their entire career will survive and be paid to them. I am committed to giving back to the community and to making sure that out union is strong and secure for the younger generation.
The following are areas of concern I have with the current contract, and proposed contract.
- Background did not get a job increase. The pay for Background Actors is very close to what it was 40 years ago, and the vehicle reimbursement has gone up $2.50 in 30 years. We are also only being reimbursed .34 cents per mile, while the federal rate is currently 53.5 cents per mile.
- The Dancers asked for better representation on set with more rest time, and got nothing.
- The voice over artists requested better representation and rest periods, to protect their vocal chords, and got nothing.
- The Singers got nothing.
- The Radio Announcers got nothing.
- Our pension is currently funded at 80.08%, which is less than 1% from being underfunded. With the monetary rollbacks in the proposed contract that we are being asked to vote on, the plan will soon be in the endangered zone. I am very concerned about this, as we are close to the danger zone with the market at all-time highs. When the market corrects and it surely will, our pension could be in serious trouble.
- The staff currently receives over double the pension cap that the members do. 210k for the staff, and only 96k for the actors who gave it to them. This evidences the lack of fiduciary duty present with our current leadership. SAG-AFTRA is a member run entity, and currently its business model is being run for the benefit of the staff. As President, I will return the control of SAG-AFTRA back to the membership where it rightfully belongs.
- Currently the Background Artists have no representation on the National Board. I will change that so everyone has representation on a National level.
- The increase of 2.5% the first year, 3.0% the second year, and 3.0% for the third year does not keep up with the cost of inflation. The increase in food prices alone over the previous twelve months is 7% according to the FAO FOOD PRICE INDEX.
- Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest safety concerns, yet this proposed contract only pushes us deeper into the danger zone. If the Producers and SAG-AFTRA cannot figure this out, maybe it's time for OSHA and/or the Labor Commissioner to step in.
- SVOD/New Media contracts: In past negotiations, Marvel had a licensing agreement that SAG-AFTRA thought just covered four shows, but then after negotiations were over, Marvel produced a list four pages long with a licensing agreement dated before the new contract began. This allowed the New Media companies to pay the previous contract sub-par rates by circumventing the new agreement. Marvel, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon may all have licensing agreements for shows that are not yet in production with predated licensing agreements, and can grandfather in years of content at sub-par rates, making the proposed contract worthless.
- The number one concern of performers at the wages and working conditions meetings was cable TV, and yet our negotiators stated that “cable is dead”, when in fact 45% of our performers work is garnered from Cable TV. The evidence actually indicates that Cable TV is very much alive on channels such as HBO, Showtime, Stars, etc. This also evidences that our representatives didn’t listen to any of the requests of the members they are bound to serve, which is why we need to replace them.
- Currently, SAG-AFTRA is behind the times. The technology implemented at SAG-AFTRA is nonexistent. If elected President, I will live stream the meetings so that all members can participate. If you cannot attend or tune into the meeting you will be able to watch it at a later date. It’s arcane that we still need to produce our social security numbers and personal data on every job, when this can be done with the swipe of a SAG-AFTRA card. I will revamp the entire system with tools that can track content across all media platforms with the use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, in addition to creating a national membership portal that will transform I-Actor into a 21st century one stop shop for casting and other bankable marketing ventures. It’s about time members got their fair share of residual income. I will also repair the Unclaimed Residual problem. How is it our staff can find your address for your dues and to send you voter cards, yet cannot find your address to mail you “lost residuals”?
- Stunt Coordinators will receive a 5% increase in the proposed contract. This amounts to $200 per week. They have not received an increase in the past 12 years, (with the exception of a standard cost of living increase) and when you divide the $200 per week over the 12 years, it amounts to a $16.66 per year increase. Television stunt coordinators also receive a minuscule portion of a very tiny residual pool compared to the maximum residuals ($3450 per episode) of the actors they supervise. The stunt coordinators also have a 9-hour turnaround commencing 1 hour after set wrap. This is unsafe, and endangers all crew members, stunt performers, actors, and pedestrians, as the stunt coordinator must drive home after working these long hours and is sleep deprived.
- Currently, our contract does not protect the performers by the fact that the stunt coordinators are being worked obscene hours and are getting very little sleep. These men and women are in charge of the safety for all SAG-AFTRA members while on the set, as well as for the crew members. It is a dangerous situation for everyone, and it’s getting worse every time we renegotiate the contract.
- The most recently proposed contract gives the performers on television shows even less time to rest at the end of each day. There currently is no safety language written into our collective bargaining agreement, and it is not mandatory to have an ambulance on the set when action is being performed. I believe Dar Robinson might possibly be alive today if medical attention had been available on the set, as opposed to having to wait for it to arrive. This is just plain negligence by the Producers and the production companies. Saving lives is much more important than saving nickels and dimes.
- SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating team used all of the claims filed over the last year as a bargaining tool in the current negotiations. The claims filed were in regard to the $75.00 travel day, and pay for travel time from the hotel to the set, and for travel time after set wrap back to the hotel. When members called SAG-AFTRA to inquire about what to do, SAG-AFTRA instructed them to go ahead and work on the show and to file a claim. They assured our members that they would be compensated for their pay as this was illegal, and the current codified basic agreement clearly stated this. SAG-AFTRA gave all of these claims away in the negotiations as a bargaining chip to get something else.
- There are also huge rollbacks in regard to travel on overnight location television shows, which will ensure that our members work longer hours, for less money, further weakening our finances and our pension funds. These losses are approximately $3,700 per week for each performer if they were to work the same on set hours in comparison with the current contract. This will add up to millions of dollars lost over the next three years affecting our pension, and our member’s ability to qualify for their medical insurance, and far outweighs any minimal gain achieved in the negotiations.
- The travel day has been reduced in the proposed contract to $500.00, which is a reduction from the current $695.80, which is 1/5 of a weekly ($3479.00) and which is in the current contract and has been for over 50 years.
THE MYTH OF THE DISAPPEARING PORTAL TO PORTAL AND YOUR LOST INCOME:
- Portal to Portal by definition is a new term used to describe the "Travel Provisions". Portal to Portal refers to the travel time from your place of lodging while on an overnight location to the set, and your return to your place of lodging at the end of the day from set.
- They have put wording into the proposed contract that you will be required to provide your own transportation to and from set while on an overnight location.
- Producers Base in our current contract refers to the Los Angeles, CA area. In the new proposed contract, they have expanded the Producers Base to include San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, etc. The etc. refers to any place the Producers set up as their principal place of photography. At one of the wages and working conditions meetings, Ray Rodriguez was asked what the definition of a Producers Base was? He responded, “any brick and mortar building.” Ray was then asked if a hotel could be counted as a Producers Base? His response was, “yes.” This means that a Producers Base can be anywhere in the world where a production company sets up their production office.
Proof of this is that right now, the TV show "The Brave", is shooting in New Mexico and is calling their production office the Producers base, and SAG-AFTRA is doing nothing about this. Further proof of this is the fact that they allowed the productions over the last year to call Mexico City, Savannah, GA, Wilmington NC, Atlanta GA, and many other cities a Producers base and did nothing to enforce the current contract for the millions of dollars in claims that have been filed against such practice by the members. This is clearly breaking the current SAG-AFTRA codified agreement rules, and yet our current administration did nothing about it.
So basically, according to the proposed contract, anytime you are flown to the Producers Base, which means anywhere in the world, you will be paid $500.00 for your travel day, will not receive travel pay from the hotel to the set and back, and you must supply your own transportation to and from the set. You will be on the clock only from the time you arrive on set, until your set dismissal. If you have an hours drive to and from the set, your turn around will be reduced to 10 hours from the 12 hours that it currently is in the existing contract. If you crash and kill someone on the way back to the hotel, you are not on the clock, and therefore are not protected by the productions companies insurance.
- The provisions in the current contract have been in full force for the last 50 years, and yet SAG-AFTRA is selling this contract by deceptively stating that the “Travel Provisions” never existed in our collective bargaining agreement. The following language is taken directly from our current collective bargaining agreement that is still in full force.
- Schedule B
Page 278 - Section G
Travel Time is Work Time
Except as otherwise provided in this Schedule, all time spent by any performer in traveling at the request of the Producer between any place at which he is required to and does report and any location, both to and from, shall be travel time, and as such, shall be work time, subject to all deductions, limitations and exceptions for which provision is made in this Agreement.
Page 278 - Section P
Transportation and Travel Time on Overnight Locations to and from Hotel or Camp
On Overnight locations, the Producer shall provide transportation to and from the hotel or camp and, except as in this Schedule otherwise provided, the time to and from the hotel or camp shall be travel time. The Rest Period may be reduced to ten (10) hours (under Section 14.D (2)
These are the reasons I am running for SAG-AFTRA National President. To achieve for all of us a safer, more secure contract, whether you are Background Artists, Singers, Dancers, Actors, Stunt Performers, News Presenters or Radio Artists. We are all in this together, together, we can make this a better union for all of us.
For truthful information, go to www.peteantico.com and click the link on my fact page.
Click the link to view the recent article by leading tech authority, Shelly Palmer, in which he supports the above analyses of the current contract. https://www.shellypalmer.com/2017/07/sagaftra-vote-no-heres/
Candidates I support:
LA National & Local Boards: In this order -- Gregg Smrz (Stunt Seat), Louis Herthum, Pete Antico, Francis Fisher, Robin Riker, Cupid Hayes, Michael Bell, Esai Morales, Debbie Evans, Richard Hatfield, David Jolliffe, Matt Kavanaugh, Samantha Hartson, Linda Harcharic, Maria Fink and the rest of the Membership First National board slate. Delegates: Mary Karcz & M1st slate. LA local Board Stunt Seat: Pete Antico
LA President: Jane Austin / LA Vice Presidents David Jolliffe & Pat Richardson
NY National Board: Pat Walsh, Billy Lake, Jeremy Sample, and the NY Action Alliance slate.
NY President: Kevin Cannon
Atlanta: The entire Voice of Atlanta slate.
Atlanta President: Scott Hunter
New England President: Chuck Slavin, Vice President: Rick Burtt