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Dear Ms. Bubbette: SAG Strike questions "Producers pay health benefits - not SAG". Linda McAlister - Dallas Talent Agent
by Ms. Bubbette
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I have a strike question and concern. I fully support the strike. Large corporations have always taken advantage of the "common human" while the government and the "common human" allows this to happen.
On the other hand, my concern is that it appears as though when an A-list SAG member, for example, Shaquille O'Neal or Elizabeth Hurley, crosses the picket line, they receive only a slap on the wrist or they are allowed to get away with the pathetic excuse of "I didn't know there was a strike going on." (comment made by Hurley).
SAG "encourages" actors like me (w/little experience and no SAG membership) by threatening us that we will never be allowed to become SAG members if we cross the picket line. To me and some of my other non-union friends, it appears as though SAG is guilty of the same tactics of taking advantage of the "little human" that it is accusing the corporations of.
Please give me some more information/guidance/advice/whatever on my concern. I am certain that my friends and I are missing some important point here, but I don't know what.
Dear (Name Withheld),
There are so many tons of correspondence on this subject heaving its way through cyberspace, it's a wonder the airwaves aren't completely bogged down.
I am going to throw your question out to the public - anyone? Send your thoughts on this letter to Opinions/Letters to the Editor.
My personal opinion on all this? Well, he who walks down the middle of the road gets hit by traffic on both sides! But I'm quite content to sit on the fence, unbiased, and watch this great drama unfold.
Meanwhile, here are some clips from two people I highly respect - it's OK to disagree and still be friends!
Quote from Tim Simek, talented Austin actor now working in L.A.
<Another great experience I had with SAG was right after my supporting role in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape." Several months after wrapping the film, I received a letter in the mail from SAG stating that I was now eligible to receive free health insurance based on wages earned in the current twelve month period. What a gift that was, as I wasnt covered under any health plan at that time. Would that have happened if there was no union?>
Answering quote from Linda McAlister, one of the hardest working talent agents in Texas.
< "SAG Producer Health Plan is available to ALL who book about $10-15,000 a year in SAG contract work, whether you are a SAG member or not. Again, I have 8 actors who are on full health benefits for a year because they've booked enough SAG work but they are not required to join the Union. The producers pay for the benefits, NOT SAG.
< Many celebrities including Richard Dreyfuss, Elliott Gould, David Hyde Pierce and Charlton Heston (I think he kept his rifle at home while striking recently at McDonald's in Studio City) have been on the picket lines and continue to show their support.> Tim
< As far as the stars are concerned, this strike doesn't affect them. They can shoot in another country. We don't have that option. They also make enough money to ride out the strike. They don't walk the picket, they have their pic taken and go home so I'm not impressed." > Linda
Take heart! It can't go on forever?
Hey Ms. Bubbette,
I sent you a question that had to do w/punishment for "A-list" scab SAG members. I also sent it to Mona Lee who forward it to the Houston SAG Prez and he responded!
Just thought I'd forward you his response, in case you were looking for answers to my original question.
First, I appreciate the support that you expressed in your message. I hope that, someday soon, you will join us as a member. We need more who share your point of view. As to your other concern, there are actually two separate issues. The first has to do with the disciplinary action that SAG will take against its own members who violate the strike by performing in struck work commercials. It's not accurate to say that anyone has been let off with a "slap on the wrist". This is because the disciplinary action has not yet begun. This process involves appropriate "due process" protections for the member and ordinarily takes a long time. Because of the strike, however, the whole process is being speeded up. Initial hearings are slated to begin in early August. If you will check out the SAG web site (www.sag.org) you will note an announcement to this effect, along with a call for information about members who have violated the strike. As the process unfolds, each case will be considered individually and appropriate punishment levied.
The second issue has to do with SAG's stance that non-members who take struck work will be prohibited from joining. The rationale for this position is that performers who violate the strike by accepting work from our signatory employers are acting counter to the best interests of SAG and prolonging the strike. Under those circumstances, we see no reason why we should allow such a person to join.
You're welcome to message back if you have further questions.
And I would say that is their final answer... Ms. Bubbette