'Working in the trade' proposal to be considered

A move to place limits on which SAG members can vote has been blasted as undemocratic by board member and former presidential candidate Eugene Boggs.

“The bedrock principal of union solidarity is mocked and undermined by explicitly and formally creating a hierarchy of membership such as this,” Boggs said.

SAG’s national board will consider a “working in the trade” proposal on July 15 to allow that panel to set criteria for members “affected” by a proposed agreement, such as a revamp in the Guild’s master franchise agreement (Daily Variety, June 17).

Agents have complained that April’s vote against the revamp of the franchise agreement was flawed because members with no discernible stake in the outcome were allowed to have as much clout as working actors. About 30% of SAG’s 98,000 members are repped by agents and 23% of guild members did not work at all during 1996-2000.

But Boggs, a three-term board member who tends to be unallied with SAG’s factions, said there is no merit to the notion that only represented members should be able to vote on agent-related questions.

“Qualified voting for agent-related referenda is but the latest step in the ongoing trend at SAG to whittle away internal democracy to the extent necessary to get policy changes those leaders desire,” he said. “The vast majority of members would like to have representation even if they don’t have it and may well believe a given proposal will improve or hurt their chances of securing an agent. That’s as real a stake as any other.”

No consensus has yet emerged among other board members on the “working in the trade” proposal by SAG’s agent relations committee. The vote against the franchise agreement revamp — which would have eased ownership restrictions for agencies — has left state rules as the only regs governing interactions between SAG members and talent agents, with no new negotiations scheduled.

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