Producers Protest Closure Of Portland SAG-AFTRA Office

Portland office is one of 10 slated to shutter

A producers group has taken the novel step of urging SAG-AFTRA not to close its office in Portland, Ore. — one of the 10 union offices that are due to be shuttered in coming months.

“As director of an organization that represents the business interests of Oregon’s production industry, my request may be found odd,” said Tom McFadden, exec director of the Oregon Media Production Assn. “However, we feel that growing and maintaining the U.S. share of business means supporting and protecting labor standards while holding performers to the standards of professionalism that our industry requires in those locations where the business is practiced.”

McFadden’s letter, sent to SAG-AFTRA national exec director David White, said that without a local office, SAG-AFTRA will lose relevance in the market. He also said that performers would run a greater risk of being improperly represented and protected against scams and other unfair practices.

McFadden also noted that the state’s production business represents a $1 billion economic impact on Oregon and that his group has teamed with the union to promote actor protections and to grow fair wage jobs in media production. “For  these reasons, it seems so incongruous to have SAG-AFTRA abandon its  Oregon representation through a state office,” he added.

SAG-AFTRA responded by saying it appreciated the positive collaboration with many partners across the country, including the Oregon Media Production Association but added that it will not not able to establish or maintain brick and mortar offices where all of its members live and work.

“This restructuring effort focuses our staff in 15 major media markets around the country, and allows us to provide better and more effective services to all members, wherever they work,” the spokesperson said. “That is our goal and, with a better alignment of our limited resources, we expect to deliver on this goal more effectively as we move forward. We are responsible for enforcing our contracts, ensuring that claims and payments are made, and supporting our members.”

SAG-AFTRA’s national board cited budget pressures in the wake of the year-old merger of SAG and AFTRA in approving the closure of the 10 offices on April 21. The union has noted that the remaining 15 offices are in areas where 93% of the 160,000 members reside.

Besides Portland, the offices being closed cover Houston-Austin, Twin Cities, San Diego, Nevada, Arizona-Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and New Orleans.

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  1. Karen Cotter says:

    Please note that New Mexico also voiced its opposition to closure of its office as evidenced by our presence on the telephone conference call of May 15th.

  2. Clear as Day says:

    Restructuring is natural and necessary component of successful mergers. Like other organizations, unions must be able to effectively deliver on core functions and provide key services to their members. Why is Portland so adamantly against this particular closure? I know that SAG-AFTRA does not have a “brick-and-mortar” office in North Carolina, yet the union has many productions filming there. It seems that a concrete office is not the main indicator of whether productions will stay in a certain region or not. The studios care more about tax incentives and rebates.

    Better to stabilize the union’s finances, increase efficiencies by reducing redundancies and focusing on critical objectives first. Fifteen offices throughout the USA seems more than adequate. At least for the foreseeable future.

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