Spring 2011

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A LETTER TO MEMBERS From Secretary–Treasurer AMY AQUINO Dear Member, addresses today’s realities, and asking ourselves if creativity and technology offer us a better way to use the resources that we have to benefit our members. The processing of residuals is a good example of this. Unbelievably, our employers still T “ By taking the time to rethink the system, we were able to create more work for SAG members with less use of dues dollars.” insist on paying residuals the same way they did 40 years ago, in the days of three networks and five studios — by shipping SAG thousands of boxes of paper checks to distribute to members. Until recently, SAG processed these mountains of checks the same old way as well — manually reading each one, checking it against printed records, inputting the information and then producing cover letters to be stuffed in envelopes for mailing. SAG tackled this problem, researched solutions and, as of this year, is using electronic scanners to automate the process for nearly two-thirds of the checks it receives. We made a technological leap in the vital area of organizing as well. SAG’s traditional paper signatory process was simply too time-consuming, unwieldy and just plain old- fashioned to keep up with the proliferation of new productions, especially for the Web and small independent films. So we built a section on SAG’s website to address just this, with tutorials about the Guild’s contracts and a step-by-step online process that allows producers to sign onto a SAG contract without ever stepping into a SAG office. This feature is the first of its kind in the industry, and when it was launched this spring, the response was immediate, with hundreds of SAG productions signed this way in a matter of weeks. In other words, by taking the time to rethink the system, we were able to create more work for SAG members with less use of dues dollars. Win-win. But as terrific as it is that SAG is increasing its effectiveness and efficiency in virtually every area, the hard truth is that nothing that SAG does on its own can eliminate the ultimate waste of resources: the expense of two unions covering the same performers doing the same work for the same employers. If there is one thing that I’ve learned from the hundreds of SAG and AFTRA members across the country who have spoken out at the Presidents’ Forum for One Union listening tour meetings that I’ve attended, it’s that in today’s chaotic media environment we simply can’t afford this waste anymore. Performers need organizing, to bring back producers who are deciding to go without a union contract. Performers need enforcement to combat the signatory producers who are finding ways to dodge their contractual responsibilities. Performers need ways to stay connected and informed in a new world where actors are increasingly isolated, auditioning online and recording from home studios. For a union to take on all these challenges requires resources — human and financial. And the simple truth is that SAG and AFTRA waste far too much of these precious assets— and our dues dollars — by duplication of efforts. That’s one of the reasons that, as secretary- treasurer, I’m thrilled that both unions have committed to coming together as one. If we can gather under one roof all the talent, dedication, knowledge and resources that each of these unions holds, then — and only then — will performers have the powerful advocacy that they need in today’s world. hese are dynamic times for Screen Actors Guild, with elected leaders and staff looking at what the organization does with a fresh eye. “Because we’ve always done it that way” isn’t a good enough reason anymore; instead, we’re examining how SAG Amy Aquino 8 SCREEN ACTOR - Spring 2011

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