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Oregon business group wants to keep SAG-AFTRA office open (updated)

May 07, 2013|By Richard Verrier
  • David Giuntoli, left, stars as Nick Burkhardt and Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin in the NBC series "Grimm," which films in Oregon.
David Giuntoli, left, stars as Nick Burkhardt and Russell Hornsby as Hank… (Scott Green / NBC )

Politics makes strange bedfellows, especially in Hollywood.

Case in point: A trade group representing the business interests of Oregon's major production companies has joined forces with local labor leaders -- to keep a local union office from closing.

In a recent letter to SAG-AFTRA Executive Director David White, Tom McFadden, executive director of the Oregon Media Production Assn. urged White to reconsider closing its Oregon office, contending that doing so would put the state's film industry at a competitive disadvantage.

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"As director of an organization that represents the business interests of Oregon's production industry, my request may be found odd," McFadden conceded. "However, we feel that growing and maintaining the U.S. share of business means supporting and protecting labor standards while holding performers to the standards of professionalism that our industry requires."

McFadden said Oregon's production business has a $1-billion economic impact in the state. Oregon currently hosts two high-profile TV productions, "Portlandia" and "Grimm." The now-defunct TNT show "Leverage" also filmed in Oregon. Movies filmed in Oregon this past year include "Redwood Highway" and Kelly Reichardt's "Night Moves."

SAG-AFTRA's board recently signed off on a plan to shutter offices in Oregon and around the country in an effort to reduce inefficiencies that were created when two actors' unions merged more than a year ago. SAG, which last month announced it was cutting 60 jobs, also said the consolidations were necessary to reduce costs in the face of a $6-million deficit.

In a statement, SAG-AFTRA defended its decision, saying it was not possible to maintain offices through the nation.

"Despite this, and whether or not we have a physical office in a particular locale, we are still responsible for enforcing our contracts, and ensuring that claims and payments are made to our members,'' the union said.  "This restructuring effort focuses our staff in 15 major media markets around the country, and allows us to provide better and more effective services to all members, wherever they work.  That is our goal and, with a better alignment of our limited resources, we expect to deliver on this goal more effectively as we move forward." 

[This post was updated to include a statement from SAG-AFTRA]

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