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Perspectives on a Polarizing Actors' Strike

September 04, 2000

The Hollywood unions have hurt themselves ("Rancor Moves to Center Stage in Actors' Strike," Aug. 25) with their exclusionary practices and now have an opportunity to correct past mistakes.

A union should not exist to keep others out. It instead should be an association of trained professionals united to protect the integrity of their profession and to negotiate collectively for a fair wage.

The "scabs" aren't the bad guys. They aren't the enemy. In fact, why hasn't the union ever welcomed these aspiring actors into its ranks? No wonder people have no loyalty to a union that doesn't want them even if they are a credit to the profession.

LEANNE JEWETT

Santa Monica

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The actors seem to be adopting a somewhat elitist view of their worth when in fact this is a classic case of supply and demand. The striking actors' position is similar to that of air traffic controllers and baseball umpires in the past--they assume they cannot be replaced. When only 80% of union members earn more than $5,000 a year, there are more SAG members than the market requires. As a result, their leverage for bargaining is limited.

Perhaps SAG members should talk to the directors, cameramen, gaffers, key grips, art directors, production managers, caterers, transportation coordinators and all the other trades that work a full day for a full wage with no residuals. They continue to work because that is how they make their living, And just like the quality SAG actors who work continually, they work because they are good and their services are requested. Commercial SAG actors should be willing to accept a similar full wage for a full day's work--and negotiate for more on an individual basis. All SAG is accomplishing is pushing the production marketplace they supposedly serve out of the Los Angeles area and it may never come back.

GARY NEPA

Los Angeles

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Thank you for choosing actors and quotes that dignify our profession instead of making us look stupid, uninformed, greedy or crazy.

The advertisers have become extremely slick (as is their job) during this battle, and have lied and lied to the press about the impact of the strike and the terms of the contract. They are offering us a pay cut, spinning it as a pay increase, and undermining our credibility and leadership to the public. For now, they seem to have the money and power to avoid public scrutiny, but they underestimate our commitment to each other, our craft and our unions. We will prevail if we stay united.

JENNIFER MAXCY

AFTRA and SAG member

Santa Monica

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Reed Johnson failed to interview any of the hundreds of nonunion actors who are working on the strike effort. They, unlike the nonunion performers mentioned, know that an actor who works under a SAG contract is guaranteed a fair wage and decent working conditions. When [interviewees] Paul Tackleu or "Ron" work nonunion and go double overtime without getting paid for it or are filming in 90-degree heat with no lunch break or just plain don't get their checks, they won't have the union to back them up. Then they'll finally understand why this strike is so important to us.

MIRIAM BILLINGTON

SAG member

Santa Monica

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The nonunion actors scabbing in commercials need a good lesson in labor history. They must be taught that they are only cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Their strike-breaking actions help the producers resist the demand for residuals, so that they themselves will be underpaid in the long run. They need to learn that instant gratification destroys the solidarity necessary to win the best provisions for themselves and their colleagues.

JULIE MAY

Los Angeles

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