Spring 2013

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A Letter from the Executive Vice President N E D VAUG H N "We pursue some of the most challenging careers imaginable, and if any group has learned that the ebb and low of our work does not determine our worth as individuals or artists, it is the professionals of SAG-AFTRA." Dear Member, D o you believe that letting your union know you are afected by a particular contract, and therefore choose to vote on it, hurts you in some way? I don't, and I'd like to tell you why. he SAG-AFTRA National Board has unanimously recommended approval of the 2013 Commercials Contracts, and all paid-up members have the opportunity to cast their votes until May 31 (5 p.m. PDT). I hope you'll join me in voting yes. But what about letting the union know you are afected by the contract? hat won't be necessary because the National Board has determined that all paid-up members are afected by the Commercials Contracts, including those who have never worked — or even pursued work — in that area. If this seems odd, perhaps it's because the SAG-AFTRA Constitution requires that such contracts may only be ratiied by "the members afected thereby." Many naturally believe this means members with some kind of work-related connection to the contract — but some National Board members see it diferently. Another option was considered, however. he board considered deining "afected members" in a way that recognizes the direct connection of those who work under the contract, but would still allow any paid-up member to vote if desired. I hope this superior approach is adopted for future contracts. Here's how it would have worked. All paid-up members would have received a postcard notiication that voting on the Commercials Contracts was about 8 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2013 | to begin, just as they have now. he only diference is that the notiication sent to members with any earnings under those contracts during the last seven years — even a penny — would have automatically included access to the online ballot materials. Any other members who wished to vote would be free to do so by simply logging on to the website and indicating that they are afected by the contract. hey would then have access to the same online ballot materials. his is a better approach because it gives a reasonable deinition to "afected members," while still providing lexibility for those who may be afected by the contract in other ways. Why was such a simple and inclusive alternative rejected? Some National Board members felt it would be hurtful to ask those with no Commercials Contracts earnings in the last seven years to airm that they are still afected by the contracts before voting on them. Astonishingly, some even equated this with a poll tax — a comparison that utterly trivializes a system once used to deprive citizens of their constitutional rights. On the contrary, this proposal faithfully honors the SAG-AFTRA Constitution and includes every member who wants to vote. he idea that members will feel hurt if they are not automatically included among those with earnings under a contract, or that making a couple of extra mouse clicks before voting will somehow alienate them, well ... that just doesn't square with my experience of SAG-AFTRA members. We pursue some of the most challenging careers imaginable, and if any group has learned that the ebb and low of our work does not determine our worth as individuals or artists, it is the professionals of SAG-AFTRA. As real-world experience repeatedly teaches us, it's not personal. Members also know that our contracts are strongest when they are negotiated and voted on by those who best understand the issues at stake. Doesn't it make sense to look toward the members who are connected to a contract through work? In the case of the Commercials Contracts proposal outlined above, that would include more than 65,000 members — hardly an exclusive few. And if any of the remaining 100,000 members were to indicate that they, too, were afected and chose to vote, their proactive interest would be relected in the outcome. Do we really help strengthen a contract by equally seeking the input of those with no connection to it, who don't have enough interest to indicate that they are afected by the contract before voting on it? I don't think so, and I know that many of you agree. Today, I hope you will join me in voting yes on the 2013 Commercials Contracts. And when our next major contract is due for ratiication, and the board once again determines which members are "afected thereby," I hope you will join me in calling for a common-sense approach like the one described above. Onward together, Ned Vaughn

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