Unity strengthens unions’ hand

Guest column

The vote on consolidation boils down to one simple question: are we stronger together? For me, and the overwhelming majority of the SAG and AFTRA leaders, the answer is an emphatic YES.

With one powerful union, we’ll be stronger where it matters most: at the bargaining table. Consolidation gives us the clout we need to negotiate for more jobs, better working conditions and higher wages. There is strength in numbers, and consolidation unites 150,000 actors, broadcasters and recording artists into a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Being strong has never been more important. Media conglomerates already have the upper hand, pitting one union against the other, forcing lower rates for digital work and limiting job opportunities. FCC regulatory changes will only make matters worse. With major contracts expiring within 12 months, we must fight back with consolidation now.

Over the past several weeks, the few, very vocal opponents of consolidation have gotten pretty desperate. They’ve even adopted the employer spin – and that’s a shame. This is a time for unity. But with so many false charges and mean-spirited attacks bouncing around the Internet and in the press, it’s no wonder a lot people are still trying to make up their minds. Here are a few key facts to remember:

1) Nearly 90% of elected SAG and AFTRA board members, support the Consolidation Plan.

2) Consolidation is our best and perhaps only chance to combine our health and pension plans. The independent feasibility study (reconfirmed by actor trustees on the Plan’s Board) concluded that a combination is possible, and SAG and AFTRA leadership are committed to making it happen. And remember, federal law protects pensions.

3) After consolidation, all actors will belong to SAG (the actors affiliate), and will be in total control of their contracts, management and strategic direction. They will also have the strongest voice in the umbrella organization, so actors will gain power, not lose it.

4) The alternative that the opposition offers is war between the unions, and that is not an option. Forcing individual actors to choose between the two will only weaken, and possibly destroy, both.

The bottom line is that consolidation means strength, and all the misinformation and management meddling in the world won’t change that. Is it a perfect plan? There is no such thing. But it is an excellent solution, created by and for members like myself with a personal stake in the future. It’s time to choose whether to go forward in solidarity and strength or remain stuck in the divisive mistakes of the past.

Go to www.PartnershipforPower.org and see for yourself how strong support for consolidation is. Everyone from major stars like Tom Hanks, Angela Bassett and George Clooney, to background performers working to build careers, to working actors, to top broadcasters and recording artists are all joining together to vote YES.

The world around us has changed, and we need to change with it. Please join me in voting YES on consolidation. Let’s build a stronger, more effective union — for all of us.