Winter 2021

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10 SAG-AFTRA | Winter 2021 | Letter from the Executive Vice President R E B E C C A D A M O N "Beware of catchy slogans. True solutions take time, consensus and a whole lot of work. Our strength really is in our unity." Dear Member, I was recently reminded of the old Schoolhouse Rock I'm Just a Bill song, and how solutions to problems, from idea to implementation, take time and a whole lot of committed people working together. The union recently achieved a major victory in New York, when Gov. Cuomo signed a right-of-publicity bill that expands the protections of members' images and voices (see story on page 18). It was the culmination of a yearslong effort. That's something I'm proud to say SAG-AFTRA has gotten pretty good at. With this right-of-publicity bill, the union built partnerships, enlisted allies and rallied member support. We took many trips to Albany to educate lawmakers and make our case. We worked with attorneys, elected officials, technology experts and, most importantly, our members. And we succeeded. Another example of a demonstrably successful resolution to a complex problem is the back-to-work safety protocols (see page 68). Working with our sister unions and employers, we were able to put into place science-based protocols that help protect members while allowing them to continue working. In a member-led union like SAG-AFTRA, these victories are only possible with member engagement. But members can only be effective if they educate themselves, because you can't successfully achieve new gains or protections in a contract if you don't know what the current contract contains. Conversely, misinformation deeply undermines our power. Most of the challenges we face are multifaceted and complex; if solutions were easy, we would have implemented them a long time ago. Beware of catchy slogans. True solutions take time, consensus and a whole lot of work. Our strength really is in our unity. This has been a difficult year for all of us. We are living through the unimaginable. I have felt this personally, as I have lost many friends and members of my extended family to COVID-19. So many people are suffering from financial and food insecurities. With the winter upon us, may we take a moment to check in on each other and make the extra effort to lift each other up. There's still a long way to go, but with the recent vaccine approvals, an eventual end appears in sight if we remain vigilant in the meantime. This pandemic has disrupted business as usual, and as tough as it has been, we must take the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. The entertainment industry is changing. What we return to won't be the same as what we left. And the union is in a moment of change, as well. We have been adapting to our altered reality and, under these difficult circumstances, meeting these challenges with innovation, imagination and inspiration. As we push to make it through this pandemic, please continue to be safe and look out for yourself and your fellow members. Wishing you all the best and a new year that's better than this last one. Onward together, Rebecca Damon

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