how NOT to make it

notes from a working actor

The trials and tribulations
of Mike Vaughn

(this guy)

[Warning: this is overwritten, messy and filled with my stupidity… so get a nice cup of┬ácamomile tea and settle in for a long ride.]

Just got Esai Morales’ election email and in one sentence he says:

“…our union apparently is facing difficult financial challenges, including three years of deficit spending.”

Then, two sentences later adds:

“I believe [in] the hiring of part-time employees to drastically shorten the time it takes to receive residual checks will help to restore members’ confidence in the union, reducing the reported 16% – 20% drop-off in timely dues payments.”

Huh? So, HIRING more staff doesn’t add to deficit spending? I could use some freebie employees. Can someone let me know where Esai gets these employees? …. oh, right, I could just label the job as Modified ULB. Cool. Got it.

Actually, to “restore members’ confidence in the “union” (ps: it’s a guild), we could look at a few (ok, 8) minor things:

1. Allow ALL funds earned regardless of the type of contract to be applied to health benefits in total. I mean as fun as it is to try and qualify for TWO health plans, wasn’t this one of the primary points of the merger? Why the three-year delay? Or is SAG-AFTRA hoping everyone just gets on the upcoming government sponsored plan?

2. Cut the fricking mass numbers of reps on the national, local, and delegate boards. When’s the last time that many cooks in the kitchen ever did anything useful (ie: see US Congress or NBC for example). Idea: how about one to two reps for all locals, and two or so reps for each type of contract? I know, crazy radical idea right).

3. Educate ALL actors and performers about proper etiquette in “the biz” including educating everyone (producers included) on fair working wages. And how about a public campaign explaining to producers why they should hire union talent vs. non. Hey, yeah.. what are the benefits? What’s in it for them? You know, we could create DESIRE to use SAG-AFTRA talent rather than try to scare them into using unionized talent. Which brings me to….

4. How about a level/certification rating on union talent, so there’s less confusion about a talent’s experience and ability? Just a thought. I mean it’s not like there are SAG Conservatory classes, or a way to track actual work to figure out some sort of rank and rating. But then I’m sure NO ONE has ever seen a card carrying member who only does background work make other members look bad. Noooo never happens, right?

5. An actual functional database of members that could be used to assist those looking to cast quality actors and performers. Like a Facebook thing, or Google-whatcha-call-it… oooh, I’ve got it, Let’s call it iActor.com, but this time have it actually work and not sell out to Gary Marsh. A functional database should run between $40k to $150K depending. What did iActor cost us again?

6. No more voting on contracts you’ve never worked on! Pretty sure Stunt Performers don’t need me voting on their contracts, as much as I’m sure I need want ANYONE who hasn’t voiced or mo-capped a videogame, even talking about the interactive contract. How about this: you work a certain contract, and you’re automatically in the system to vote on those contracts, and if you’re really passionate about a category, then once you have a union audition in that category, then you’re free to vote in that area with a brief letter of explanation. Fair, right? Or we could just do what we did at the last interactive contract negotiations, and ask those who actually work the contract what they think, and when they disapprove at a 97.5% rate, just turn a blind eye and call all the actors outside of LA and tell them to vote for the new (crappier) contract cause it’s such a good deal. And continue the drop in overall earnings from videogames (thanks for that.. all you who DON’T work in games).

7. Assist others in getting fair wages and guilds. For example: NCAA athletes’ exact likenesses are used in games and they are paid a whopping: $0. Sure glad guys like Madden are stepping up and speaking out (oh, wait, he’s not? bummer). Also, when vo actors talk about games being union, they are met with blank stares from game developers who have been known to work 90 hours a week for an average of $30k a year, with little job security. Uhh, maybe they need a union, no?

8. And finally… open the oh-so secret P&H Board wide open. Make that shit transparent. We don’t need an anonymous group of bankers, producers, lawyers, and couple actors making these crappy health plan and retirement fund decisions. Unless, we ALL get free breast implants (see: http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/sag-members-push-pension-plan-independent-investigation-embezzlement-charges-33881 )

So, Esai, (or anyone else working at SAG-AFTRA)
Is anyone into these issues or is it just about getting those $0.17 residual checks faster and fun divisional rhetoric?

With love and a grin.
-Mike V

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