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LETTERS : Back Stage welcomes letters on performing arts issues. All letters should include the writer's address and phone number, and are subject to editing due to space limitations.

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Dear Editor:

I am responding to SAG member Ben van Bergen's passionate defense of his negative vote on the contract ratification referendum, which includes several inaccuracies:

1. No one is "avoiding" the fact that Cable residuals are small. We all agree on that. The study proposed in the new contract will give us important information necessary to craft a new, more productive residuals structure next time.

2. The cost of the study is not unlimited. The unions can and will limit the cost based upon the value of the information it begins to produce.

3. The CPI was cited only to show that proposed wage increases should easily outstrip the expected cost of living increase over the term of the contract.

4. Mr. van Bergen's guesses about what waivers will or won't be granted in the future are not more accurate than anyone else's crystal ball. However, we expect there will be far fewer and smaller waivers because of the new numbers.

5. He is also wrong in disputing the statement "on most shooting days, all extra performers would be union-covered." For example, during the first two weeks of January in New York, a fairly typical period, there were 4 TV series and 9 Theatrical Films shooting.

Series: 515; Extras Job Days/33; Calls = Average of 15.6 Extra Jobs per Call.; New Contract # is 25!; Only 7 of the 33 calls exceeded 25.; Features: 2140 Ext. Jb. Days/70 Shoot Days = Average of 30.5 Extra Jobs per Call

New Contract # is 85!

Only 7 of the 70 calls exceeded 85.

Not only do the new numbers exceed the typical average, but the numbers were exceeded on only 20 percent of the TV calls and ten percent of the theatrical film calls. Clearly, on most shooting days, all extra performers would be union-covered under the new contract terms.

6. Finally, the "multiple episode" comparison to staff is flawed. Working five weeks for one week's pay is hardly similar to working on 10 episodes of a series in a single day for a single day's pay. In the first instance, staff has put in at least 175 hours for only 35 hours of pay while the performer has put in 10 hours (including overtime) for 10 hours of pay.

A contract ratification vote should be based on facts, not hypotheticals and fears. Seen on that basis, I believe a positive vote is the obvious choice.

John H. Sucke

Executive Director

SAG/NYBabs' CanonDear Editor:

I agree heartily with almost everything Steve Luker from KIC says re: extra workers in NYC v. LA. However, he mentions Barbra Streisand as being involved. Wrong!

On "The Mirror Has Two Faces" she truly took excellent care of the extras' pocketbooks. Plus, she's known as a friend of the less fortunate (like extras).

Just wanted to set the record straight.

Barbara Johnson

Nutley, N.J.

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