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.

Sucke Rebuts Sloan

Dear Editor:

I am responding to Chuck Sloan's comments in last week's "Letters" column. He implies that SAG National Vice President Maureen Donnelly and I presented only "half the truth" by pointing out that both SAG and AFTRA are anticipating current budget deficits. Our point was that both unions will be forced to propose dues increases soon if the merger is rejected. Therefore, members should not simply compare the proposed merger dues to their current dues because neither union can afford to continue full services at the current dues level for much longer.

No, neither of us "would have you think a deficit is prudent business policy" (speaking of half-truths!). We were underlining the fact that, absent merger, both unions do have sufficient financial reserves now to cover their anticipated deficits. Likewise, the proposed merged union also would have sufficient financial reserves to handle such a deficit in the beginning; however, no one wants that to be necessary.

The merger plan was not "ill conceived and ill prepared." It is just that, for both unions, member services (expenses) and earnings under our contracts (affecting dues income) have changed significantly in the years since the dues structure was created. Consequently, reappraisal and possible adjustment of the finances in light of these changes will provide members with the most current information possible upon which to base their merger vote.

John H. Sucke

Executive Director

SAG/New York

Low-Vote Concerns

Dear Editor,

I'd like to know if anyone else in the Screen Actors Guild is disturbed by the small percentage of members who participated in the vote for the new contract. Recently, I spoke to another SAG member who said, in essence, "I'll worry about SAG issues when I have more SAG work." Apparently, he is not alone.

I do not like the fact that members voted for a contract that I am not happy with, but at least the people with whom I disagree, in theory, spoke up. We formed a union to support each other's rights as actors. I do not always agree or understand the actions of the present Board of Directors, but I know that the original ideas and foundation of Screen Actors Guild is good. The existence of SAG has produced the possibility of security in business fraught with insecurity. If we only act when we are immediately affected as individuals, we should not be offended when the opportunity for decision that we ignored creeps up and slaps us in the face.

To the people in SAG who lifted the evidently enormously weighty ballot and took the long cumbersome trek to their post box, I thank you no matter what your vote was. To the members who ignored your options, thanks loads for the contract that makes me extremely wary. You may have been the voice to change it. Now, I hope it doesn't sting you with your own apathy. I hope that it turns out for the best.

For heaven sakes, please think twice when elections come about for the Board of Directors. If you are a member of SAG, who you vote for will affect all of us. If you don't and you do get SAG work where the circumstances are not to your satisfaction or you are unfairly represented or you are treated badly, remember that you may have had the chance to change it by choosing who represents you. We can only be powerful as a union if we act like a union.

Jessie Robles

Brooklyn, NY