Recent decisions made by national SAG AFTRA were positive and not necessarily so positive for the talent unions that merged in early 2013 after 30 years of discussion and now representing more than 165,000 members in front of and behind the camera.
On the plus side, the union’s National Board and the advertising industry’s Joint Policy Committee in late April agreed on terms of a new television and radio contract.
The new contract gives the union $238 million in wage increases and other payments for all performance categories, increases for cable use, new media platforms and late payment fees.
On the minus — but not entirely unexpected — side, the union has begun “strategic restructuring” whose plan corrects a roughly $6 million deficit between revenue and expenses relating to pre-merger legacy costs of the prior organizations.
Consequently, the union will close of 10 of 25 offices and eliminate about 60 jobs nationally, starting now. The closed offices of Michigan and Minnesota will be consolidated with Chicago.
Office closures will not mean reduced core services or scaled-back representation in the long-term, said David White, the union’s National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator.
“The action will strengthen the and grow union activities in eight major markets and seven emerging/broadcast markets — representing more than 93% of the union’s membership – and ensuring that institutional resources are focused on core operational functions and improved member services,” he said.
The major markets still standing are Los Angeles, New York, Washington-Mid Atlantic, Chicago, San Francisco, New England, Philadelphia, and Miami.
The broadcast/emerging markets are Dallas-Ft. Worth, Seattle, Atlanta, Nashville, Hawaii, Ohio-Pittsburgh and Missouri Valley. The geographic restructuring process will take place over the next several months.
The restructuring plan calls for the creation of a member review committee that will work with the professional staff to review the impact of the transition and report back to the Board in April 2014.
Chicago SAG AFTRA co-president Ilyssa Fradin was one of nine union representatives during the contract negotiations. She is co-president with Craig Dellimore, former AFTRA president.
National co-presidents are former SAG president Ken Howard, and AFTRA president Roberta Reardo.n