Thursday, 14 February 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On... #51: SAGa of the Divided Union

Things are getting heated inside the Screen Actor's Guild with one faction trying to push the union to get negotiations with the AMPTP over with before the contract's due date gets too close.

Now there's even talk of "Qualified Voting," where the right to vote of SAG members will depend entirely on the amount of money they make during the previous year.

Actor Ron Livingston gives his view here. (Hat tip Nikki Finke)

Have you read it?

Good, now we can continue...

Now I'm the last person to be a "union or death" kind of labour activist type, having a grandfather who was screwed out of his job and left unemplo
yed by a union during the Depression with 12 kids to feed, but I have to admit that Livingston makes good points.

What's the good of a union when 65% to 80% of the rank and file are disqualified from having a voice in union matters simply because they don't make enough money. Qualifying for SAG membership alone is hard enough, giving it a caste system stricter than medieval India based on income is an abomination to the very idea of a union.

The role of a union, and for minimum basic agreements are not for the top tier money makers, who have others looking out for their interests but for the rank and file character actors who will never see their name on a star on Hollywood Blvd.

Although their motives may be entirely pure, this move has the faint whiff of institutional putrefaction to it. Like those old time crooked elections where only landowning white males could vote, and they usually sold theirs to the highest bidder.

I've already expressed why I think the A-List has been avoiding getting involved in these contract disputes. They think that any re-evaluation of how business is done in Hollywood could threaten their huge sala
ries, since the bulk of today's "stars" fail at any real box-office appeal.

So here's a new thought.

I say bring in qualified voting, but change the qualifications.

If an actor makes more than $1,000,000 in the past year, they don't get to vote on union business. They have agents, lawyers, managers, accountants, and others to look after their interests, they don't really need the union.

Let those who need SAG run SAG.

(That's what you call a trial balloon, please leave your outrage in my comments section so I can see if I can get away with tossing this particular fox into the SAG henhouse)

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