Spring 2015

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6 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2015 | A Letter from the President K E N H O WA R D "An educated membership is a powerful membership." Dear Member, S top reading this letter for a moment, and take another look at the picture on the cover of this magazine of the building that houses our national headquarters. What you see is a powerful symbol of our growing success and one of many signs pointing to a bright future for SAG-AFTRA. You might wonder how a simple picture of a building — even one as striking as our newly dedicated namesake building housing our national headquarters — can hold so much promise. First, we must take a look back. When I began serving on the Screen Actors Guild board in 2008, actors were divided and our unions were facing off in a confrontation that could easily have left us permanently weakened. Instead, SAG and AFTRA members seized that turbulent, risky energy and used it as a springboard to greater unity and strength through our historic merger. On April 16, under a perfect blue sky, surrounded by a host of current and former national officers, board members and union staff celebrating the dedication of SAG-AFTRA Plaza, I reflected on the moment three years earlier, when we made our merger official, and then back to the start of our drive to merge SAG and AFTRA. We changed course in 2008, working our way to something better, and now the fruits of that labor are becoming evident: As a merged union, no longer fighting among ourselves, we have established first-ever combined SAG-AFTRA contracts in Commercials, TV/Theatrical — incorporating the Cable contracts into one master contract — Network Code, Animation, Corporate/Educational and numerous Broadcast contracts from across the country, and are currently engaged in the Interactive Contract and the Sound Recordings Contract negotiations. We have reorganized staff, creating staff efficiencies, and have put the union on a solid financial footing. We are now seen as a stable, important voice in the lives of our members and in the lives of our country. We were invited to the White House as part of President Obama's A Call to Arts to mentor young storytellers in the cinematic arts. We are backing legislative initiatives like the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015. We are stable and we are strong. None of this would have been possible if we hadn't made the smart decisions, moved on from the dysfunction that surrounded us, and merged our two unions, setting ourselves on the path to greater strength and influence. We can and should be proud of our accomplishments. However, your elected leadership, as good stewards, must also listen and be mindful of areas that you, our members, tell us need improving. With the President's Task Force on Education, Outreach and Engagement, we're already conducting educational seminars to better help elected leaders listen, communicate, organize and engage all of us in the direction and responsiveness of our union. An educated membership is a powerful membership. SAG-AFTRA is responding to the challenges facing us. From staying on top of the changing technologies in our industry and better communication between our staff and our membership, we are moving forward. Just like the smart decisions we've made previously have allowed us to turn challenges into opportunities, we are making progress on the consolidation of our benefit plans, which would not have been possible without the merger of the unions. I continue to be proud and honored to have been your president through the transition, consolidation and first term of a great union. As we approach SAG-AFTRA's second election cycle, I urge those of you who are interested in running for office to do so. Whether for your local board, National Board or as a delegate, serving your fellow members as an elected representative is a worthy and important undertaking. Be bold and make your voice heard. SAG-AFTRA is not just good. It's good and growing. In unity, Ken Howard

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