Back Stage welcomes letters on performing arts issues. All letters should include the writer's address and phone number, are subject to editing, and must be limited to 250 words.
A Clear Voice
An issue came up between The Village Voice Obie Awards and Actors' Equity Association because, throughout decades of creating archival tapes of the Obies, we were unaware that Equity had rules governing such archival taping. Having now been made aware of those rules, we will follow them in the future.
President, The Village Voice
New York, NY
(Editor's Note: Mr. Schneiderman refers to a controversy which Back Stage covered in our June 19 issue. The Obie Awards press agent accused an Actors' Equity staff member of false statements and "a very strange agenda" in the union's assessing a breach penalty on an archival taping of this year's awards.)
SAG's OUTRAGEOUS SPENDING
In my opinion, Screen Actors Guild is being run like a huge corporation. Pushing more and more members out of the way. Pushing them out of the Pension Plan and out of the Health Plan.
I've been told SAG intends to raise the pension requirements from $7,500 to $10,000. Who does this benefit? I really wonder. Do the Pension and Health Trustees of SAG realize that they are Trustees for a union? Not a major corporation.
A union is suppose to work in the interest of its members. This is stated in the SAG Constitution. Why then is SAG gearing up for merger before a merger referendum has been sent out to the membership? Why have the offices in NY and LA both begun reconstruction for new employees? Why is there a new office space now being "Rent"ed at 1500 Broadway for the Pension & Health Plan and for a "research" dept.?
Why does SAG need a research dept.? Why pay one SAG employee $122,041.97 to be the Director of Research? That's $122,041.97 that should go into an emergency Health Plan Fund. What is that employee researching; is it how much we lost in the last contract? What a waste!
Contract enforcement should be the main operations of SAG. Why are members dues spent for $69,520 of donations to charities? That's $69,520 that should go into an emergency Health Plan Fund (to donate to struggling actors!).
Why does SAG spend as much as the members pay in dues? Is spending out of control at SAG? Who would know if the Federal Government didn't make SAG report their outrageous spending in the Labor Organization Annual Report (Form LM-2).
The SAG Board, SAG employees and their pernicious financial decisions have led this union into a $5 million deficit. SAG spends $428,310.00 a year on newsletters and magazines which are sent out to the SAG membership. That's $428,310.00 that should go into an emergency Health Plan Fund. $428,310.00 on newsletters but still SAG members know nothing about the cleverly calculated merger or how its financial effect; its competitive effect; or its long-lasting influence on the SAG membership.
How many more jobs will be lost to NY SAG members after the merger floods us with AFTRA competition? The answer? SAG should cut the fat and spend our money in the interest of the SAG membership. Outrageous!
New York, NY
I'm afraid it's time to complain. In the past weeks, Roger Armbrust's SAG-related articles have become almost pure editorials. I am not even a Screen Actors Guild member, but who can miss the anti-union slant his articles take. What happened to objective journalism?
In this week's Back Stage (9/11-9/17), his performers alliance article, subtitled "Recasting SAG into a More Open [!] Society," tells us "the way organizations should [begin] in America," and he assumes SAG members receive "more information than they wanted to know." Mr. Armbrust thinks he knows how many "rare trips" to New York the SAG national president makes and kindly assumes for his readers what helps get "pacts approved."
I'm honestly not at all interested in Mr. Armbrust's opinions. Even non-SAG members can see that his articles seem full of misleading misinformation. He needs to work much harder as a reporter (and especially as "news editor") and should cover something less personal for him and less crucial for others. Perhaps a nice restaurant review. Got another reporter?
New York, NY