Spring 2023

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12 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2023 | A Letter from the Executive Vice President B E N W H I T E H A I R Hello Fellow Members! I n the midst of pending strikes, industry changes and threats to our livelihoods, know that SAG-AFTRA has your back. And, as a union, we have our strength by leaning on two fundamental pillars: solidarity and vision. Solidarity isn't just a slogan. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to get back to work safely because we collaborated with the Directors Guild of America, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Basic Crafts to produce The Safe Way Forward report. Let us keep in mind the benefits this unanimity afforded us as we move beyond our Return to Work protocols. Solidarity is imperative in this crucial time. As you read this, it's possible that the Writers Guild of America has gone on strike. Know that the SAG-AFTRA National Board recently declared that we stand strongly in solidarity as our siblings in the WGA battle for our collective future. In a recent communication with its members, WGA leaders defined the issue: "Over the past decade, while our employers have increased their profits by tens of billions, they have embraced business practices that have slashed our compensation and residuals and undermined our working conditions." Sound familiar? It should: We have the same employers as the WGA. We, too, are in a daily fight to ensure fair compensation across our broad membership: actors, voiceover artists, puppeteers, singers, dancers, stand-ins, broadcasters, stunt coordinators and more — the vast majority of whom make a hard-earned, blue-collar living, whether we ply our trade in small towns or bustling urban centers. Thanks to unity and solidarity, we've answered the challenge posed by the economic powers-that-be over many years: Our historic 2022 Netflix deal expanded our freedom to work, added a background zone (the first in 20 years!), and significantly increased compensation. I am confident we will continue this progress in the upcoming TV/Theatrical negotiations. We not only look to the future, we shape it. SAG-AFTRA has never shirked from grasping, with both hands, new technologies or innovation. In fact, in many subtle but crucial ways, SAG-AFTRA has already harnessed technology internally to make members' lives easier: the new Member Toolkit; an upcoming Events Calendar; an online joining process that encouraged recruitment; direct deposit systems; a contact center fielding hundreds of thousands of calls, emails and chats; and the soon-to-be-released Producer's Portal so employers will be able to more easily hire our members. Now, artificial intelligence beckons. Like all new technologies, AI poses both opportunities and risks. If AI processes can scan our bodies or use our voices, we can potentially do multiple projects more or less at the same time — and the landscape of future work and demand for our skills will grow. The risk, of course, is that AI will use scans of each of us without our consent and, crucially, without appropriate compensation. In this dystopian world, computers will learn how to act and no one will be able to tell the difference. That's where SAG-AFTRA comes in: We will fight tooth and nail to ensure more work and more income for each member in every single one of our 700 contracts — as we have done for nearly a century. I encourage you to stay engaged and informed as we meet the future by checking in with the Member Toolkit, your union's podcast, YouTube channel, and all our social media platforms. In solidarity, Ben Whitehair "SAG-AFTRA has never shirked from grasping, with both hands, new technologies or innovation."

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