Summer 2021

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8 SAG-AFTRA | Summer 2021 | A Letter from the Executive Vice President R E B E C C A D A M O N "Never has the union done so much to improve the day-to-day lives of members." Dear Member, I was recently watching a beautiful sunset on the Hudson River, and it made me think how every sunset leads to the next day and to new possibilities. That had me reflect on the worldwide pandemic we have all endured for nearly a year and a half. It has been a challenging time for SAG-AFTRA performers, with production shutdowns and an uncertain future, while broadcasters have faced their own serious challenges and stresses. As an industry, as a union and as individuals, we have experienced moments of suffering and loss. But as difficult as these moments have been, they also present an opportunity: the chance to reevaluate what's important and take the steps needed to achieve great things. In moments of crisis or distress, external forces often propel change that would meet too much resistance in quieter times. In fact, that's our origin story: The union was founded in a moment of crisis, when performers were being exploited by ruthless studios, and working conditions became unbearable. Since then, decade after decade, we have faced numerous challenges — yet somehow come back stronger each time. That notably played out in our recent history, when what started as a conflict culminated in the merging of SAG and AFTRA. We came together and are stronger for it. Despite hopes that we are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's clear that it's not over yet, and may well be with us for a while. But when I reflect on where we were at the beginning of the pandemic, it makes me realize how far the union has come — despite the challenges everyone has faced personally and professionally. Work is coming back for performers, and SAG-AFTRA members' earnings have achieved a new record high. Simultaneously, the union has been working on all fronts to improve members' lives. SAG-AFTRA members have helped raise money for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. SAG-AFTRA has leveraged relationships and innovated through technology, and made significant strides toward protecting members from sexual harassment. Throughout the pandemic, the union helped bring relief to members with sustained lobbying efforts for the CARES Act, the HEROES Act, pandemic unemployment assistance and much more. Never has the union done so much to improve the day-to-day lives of members. When this pandemic is at last a memory, I am convinced that we will emerge stronger than we were before. Collective action is what SAG-AFTRA is all about, and when we unite, we can achieve anything. When we focus on unity, we realize our full potential. And just as it takes us all working together to do great things professionally, we must also come together to beat this virus. Please get vaccinated and follow safety protocols so we can not only stay healthy, but continue returning to the work we so dearly love. COVID continues to take lives and leave survivors with long-term health problems, and for anyone who is medically able to be vaccinated, those outcomes are preventable. Almost daily you can read heartbreaking stories of people who rejected the advice of trained medical experts until it was too late. We have always been at our strongest when we work together, and whether it is pulling through the pandemic or ensuring our work is protected and fairly compensated, we're all in this together. We get to create the future we want to see. That's what collective action is. Onward together, Rebecca Damon

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