Spring 2022

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10 SAGAFTRA | Spring 2022 | A Letter from the Executive Vice President B E N W H I T E H A I R "Our strength is only as powerful as our participation." Fellow Members, Y our union needs your help: Volunteering. Sharing your story. Voting. America is experiencing an extraordinary moment of union appreciation and activism, and a core reevaluation and honoring of the worth and power of the individual laborer. We see it at Amazon and Starbucks, and in nontraditional settings: workers uestioning a rigged system, seeking fair pay and life balance, with surging public support even in the face of millions of union-bashing dollars. Many out there had never thought to unionize. But after decades of ever-more-egregious exploitation, below subsistence wages, forced part-time and gig wor without enefits, and economic policies designed for the richest, the need to speak with a collective voice has never been more important. Add the pandemic, with its isolating remote work and front-line dangers, and our time is now. Let me share an open secret: We SAG-AFTRA members have been enjoying the fruits of collective bargaining since the 1930s nearly a full century. In a very real sense, actors are the original gig workers. We are an industry of freelancers who have contractual protections and access to health care and a pension that are the envy of many of our non-union peers. But only because our members had a vision, then and now, and a commitment to the dignity of every worker, relentlessly pursued. I am grateful for what previous generations have accomplished, and I hope you will stick with your union as we continue that fight Our recently negotiated Commercials Contracts are a tangible example of the extraordinary possibilities that arise when workers band together. As I write, members are voting on the tentative contract and have hoefully ratified it by the time you are reading this. This contract showcases the power of collective bargaining, reached remarkably enough during one of our country's heaviest periods of corporate consolidation, and where many argue that digital innovations moot the need for human performers. With this contract, for the first time, our members of color will no longer be forced to do their own hair and makeup. We blockaded absurd self-taping req uests I have been asked to self-tape an audition while driving, and other members have told me of eq ually ridiculous demands. We secured additional contributions to our Health and Pension Plans, adopted new standards for nude or partially nude work, and achieved new . More than that, the contract is forward-looking, with new compensation for digital use and modern, simlified terms for the digital age. These gains aren't just wishful thinking; they are now contained in a legally binding contract that will improve our members' daily lives. Kudos to the negotiating committee and SAG-AFTRA staff for all their hard work. But whether or not this contract is ratified, your right to even vote is ossile only because of the power of collective bargaining and SAG-AFTRA's efforts and resources. No single worker could bring so much enefit together for grou action, with returns to be paid out for years. And it serves as an example of the tangible results we are accomplishing for each of you. So, let's not simply celebrate the power of our collective voice, let's leverage it. As SAG-AFTRA members, we have the incredible privilege of nearly 100 years of top-notch negotiators, researchers and economists in our corner. But our strength is only as powerful as our participation. So volunteer to serve your union. Participate in our wages and working conditions meetings to give your feedback and share your lived experiences with our myriad contracts. Communicate with your board members. Vote. Support your fellow members and even workers in other industries however you are able. We are a union of the most effective communicators in the entire world in all the beautiful forms that can take. And, together, we are unstoppable. Together in unity, Ben Whitehair "TRANSFIXING" "TRANSFIXING"

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