Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Stranger in a Strange Land

Well folks, here we are again, almost a week after the National Board Plenary in LA and lots to report--well, sort of.

With one local Board Meeting, a detailed follow-up session on the recent National Plenary in LA, several teleconferences, and many emails, messages, and face-to-face meetings with concerned Members under my belt one thing becomes overwhelmingly clear: there are no easy answers, but lots of smart and tough questions are being asked of your Union leaders.

Like many of you, I'm pro-Merger. I believe the strength and health of our Union depends upon the end of jurisdictional warfare between SAG and AFTRA, and I know we are stronger together than we are apart. I'm happy to report that the concept of a merged Union enjoys broad-based support among our members and that the focus remains on our vision of a shared future. The challenge as I see it is, can we sharpen our vision of Merger? Can we benefit from hindsight, which, as my high-school history teacher liked to remind us daily, is 20/20? Can we ensure that Membership is given the clearest possible picture of what Merger will look like before you are asked to vote on the single most important issue in your Union's history?

The answer is YES---and also NO.

The committee members and chairs on the G1 are to be commended for their dedication and hard work in the service of Merger. As a rank and file member who also happens to be a local Board Member, I know about as much as any of you regarding the details of the G1's process and progress. Of the little information I do have, I am limited in what I am legally allowed to relay to you.  You see, on occasion, your NY Board President or Vice President may invoke "confidentiality," prohibiting participating board members from sharing the discussion with the Membership at large. Confidentiality has it’s time and place: it would of course be imprudent and impractical for the G1 to throw its doors wide open to membership, the Media, and the world at large as it seeks creative solutions to the problems inherent in Merging our two Unions.  To lay bare the hundreds of steps along the way to Merger--to involve Membership at this level of the planning stages--would surely be a waste of time and resources and would place an extra burden on the already heavily-taxed G1.

Confidentiality can, however, become a handy way to throw a cloak over contentious issues and leave Membership in the dark. It is not surprising, therefore, that the dearth of information has prompted a seemingly endless set of questions. I've been asked about everything from term limits for governance to the new dues structure to the nature of the Merger vote itself. Many of you are seeking the same answers: Is there a plan to merge the unions’ Pension and Health plans? Is there or will there be a feasibility study done regarding merging the P&H plans? Will Membership be told about the results of such a study and if so, when? If not, why not? When will the Merger vote occur, and will membership have any input before being asked to ratify? Who is on these G1 committees anyway, and why were they chosen to write this next chapter in our collective history? My excitement over seeing a smart, well-crafted Merger pass with flying colors is somewhat dampened by the extent of the confidentiality constraints around the process itself. These protocols make it difficult for me to substantively answer most of your questions, much as I'd like to assuage your fears and allay your concerns. As I said before, in many cases I myself am not privy to much of that information, and if I was I couldn't share it with you anyway.

What I can tell you is this: though the G1 is currently on target to deliver Merger documents to the Board in January 2012, details will be hammered out until the eleventh hour.  Once the documents are delivered, the Board will examine the plan with the diligence Membership deserves. I can't speak to the dues structure, the existence of a plan for Merged P&H plans or whether or not a Feasibility study will be undertaken. I can't tell you who the chairs of the G1 committees are. I can't tell you how the vote for Merger will be structured. I can't tell you exactly when the vote will occur. I can't tell you why, in some cases, I'm not allowed to tell you.

I can report that the NY Board feels confident that your concerns and questions have been sufficiently aired during the two listening tours provided to the NY Membership (if you were able to attend the open one and/or lucky enough to receive an invitation to the other.) In no way should this be construed to mean that Membership is now locked out of the Merger process--to the contrary, I'm happy to share with you an email address that has been provided to Members who feel they have something to add or who have pressing questions: (I wasn't told who will be monitoring or answering your emails but I was assured they will be received.) Another recourse open to Membership is the NY Board itself--you can communicate with any of us and we will relay your comments to the appropriate person on the G1 (even if we can't tell you who that is!) I hope these two avenues of expression will comfort those who of you who fear you are not being included in building your new Union from the foundation up.

An early 2012 vote would be a fine thing--if indeed the G1 can cross its t's and dot its i's, and if the Local and National boards have ample time to debate and discuss the many provisions the Merger documents will no doubt contain. If it becomes clear , however, that blind adherence to the January projection is detrimental to crafting a successful Merger--if the tail begins to wag the dog-- than I suggest we slow down and take the time this process deserves. I feel confident that most members would agree. Merger is like a marriage: A shotgun wedding can spell disaster for an ill-equipped couple, and unruly guests might interrupt the ceremony shouting "We object!" On the other hand, a long engagement can be used wisely to plan the details of a happy and healthy life together, supported by a wide group of family and friends. I know which relationship I'm betting on, and I know which one I'd vote for.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sweet Dreams and The New "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Phoebe Jonas here, reporting from the front lines of Board Service, making good on One.Strong.Union's promise to deliver transparency and accountability from your Board Members.

Our first Board Meeting of the new term occurred on Monday Oct 3rd. I was wary of the sentiments of those in the room against whom I had campaigned, but on most accounts I was welcomed warmly.

In truth, the meeting felt a little lackluster--Merger is the name of the game (more on that in a minute) and there's a bit of a lame-duck feeling in the room, as if the REAL work can't be done until Merger is achieved, and we're just biding our time until that happens. I hope that that we can function as a proactive and energized board while the G1 attends to the unruly task of shaping--or attempting to shape--Merger. With so few of your board members participating in the G1, there's no reason to be in a "holding pattern."

The approval of NY's local committee chairs, an important event that happens at the beginning of every board term, was mostly achieved by acclamation - in other words by rubber stamp, and with little to no discussion--rather than a roll call. We received a confidential report on the Pension & Health plans from National Executive Director and trustee, David White.

One noteworthy exception to the somnambulant feeling in room (one Board member was actually asleep for most of the meeting) was during the vote for your NEC representatives. The National Executive Committee conducts vital business between the quarterly meetings of the full board. NY has 4 seats on the NEC. As a stand in for the elected board, the NEC should resemble, as closely as possible, the political make-up of the full board. While they were not obligated to do so, it was an opportunity for Hodge and USAN to recognize in their NEC choices that the over-2000 SAG members who voted for OSU deserve representation on this important body.  Instead, the lone OSU supporter on the NEC, who had served on the NEC for many years, was removed from her seat without explanation. I was reminded of Mike Hodge's comment in the latest issue of Backstage-- "I do not believe in being punitive....I don't think that it serves a purpose. I think as long as you show a good-faith effort to do the job at hand, then we can move forward...” I couldn't help but question Hodge and USAN's true intentions in removing the only OSU supporter from the NEC and therefore disenfranchising thousands of SAG members.

But onwards! Next stop, Merger. I don't know about you guys, but this pro-Merger Board Member and dual card-holder is getting a little tired of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy being exposed by our Union's leadership. As in, you don't ask any questions about what Merger is going to look like, and we won't tell you any answers, especially when it comes to our Pension and Health plans! In light of escalating health care costs, unprecedented increases in eligibility and contributions, pending lawsuits and allegations of impropriety, I find it deeply concerning that Members of both AFTRA and SAG boards repeatedly "assure" me that rank and file membership will "simply have to trust us" and that no substantial information on the potential structure of the new union's P&H plans can be provided prior to the referendum.

In other words, you will be asked to put your entire financial future--and that of your family--in the hands of people who are not willing to put that vital information in yours. It's disrespectful, it's dishonest, and it fails to meet the basic fiduciary responsibility of the SAG Board to it's members. As a member of the NY-SAG Board, and as a member of OSU, I will do everything in my power to ensure that your YES vote on Merger stands on the firm foundation of due financial diligence that you deserve. Many of YOU have shared with me the same concern - and I welcome more feedback --  I will make sure you are heard.

SAG will hold a National Board Plenary in Los Angeles this weekend, Oct 22-23. I won't be attending as I am a local board member, not a national board member. One of your OSU representatives will provide you with a full report post-plenary.

Stay informed,
Phoebe Jonas

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Only Just Begun...


With your help, One.Strong.Union. has become an important movement that will continue to demand accountability from our NY SAG Board. Would we have liked to have gained more board seats in the election? Of course. But we always knew this was a David vs. Goliath battle, and we’re proud of what we accomplished. O.S.U. candidates landed an overall average of 40% of the votes cast in this election. Not too shabby for a movement that took formal shape only two months ago. We congratulate the O.S.U. candidates elected: Sam Robards, Matt Servitto and Phoebe Jonas.

Your One.Strong.Union. representatives look forward to working with USAN, and with all the members of the SAG Board, nationwide, to bring you effective representation and a successful merger. The four pillars of O.S.U.'s promise to you, the members, are that we will be transparent, inclusive, forward-looking and collaborative board members, committee chairs and committee members. We are hopeful that Mike Hodge and USAN will join O.S.U. in that promise, as they declared they would during the campaign.

The first NY Board meeting will be next Monday, Oct 3rd. Committee appointments will be made by the board at this meeting. This is your chance to get involved! Fill out a New York Division Committee Service Request Form at  Stay tuned. O.S.U. promises to keep you informed. 

Rather than clog your inbox, we’ll be posting regular updates on our Facebook page and we hope you’ll visit often to catch up. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at - we want to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

SAG National Board Member - RBD, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Endorses ONE.STRONG.UNION.

“The way to win the future is to have diverse voices, fresh eyes, intelligent discourse, and experienced opinions in every facet of the evolution of our unions. I think the One.Strong.Union. candidates represent our best chance to have that. They kick ass, which is why I am supporting their candidacies. I know and respect them all, and cannot wait to get to work with them, to build our future.”
– Holter Graham, NY Actor, dual card member


For many years I've supported USAN slate, and in fact had a hand in its formation. But times, goals and groups change, and I have grown uncomfortable with USAN's leadership style, finding it too exclusive; too opaque in its leadership; too determined to quell free speech and opinion, and too inwardly-focused to be genuinely service-oriented, as good union officers and a healthy board must be.

That's why I support the group of SAG members running as independents under the banner of One.Strong.Union., or O.S.U., and why I'm writing you today.

Thanks for taking time with my thoughts.

Great question! The NY Division makes up just over 25% of the SAG National Board (Hollywood makes up about 50%, and the Regional Branch Division – the RBD – just under 25%). It brings tremendous influence to SAG policymaking, and to the work of merger. As a member of the RBD, it's important that I can count on my fellow Divisions to respect and support my Division and its needs, and to act in integrity in all union matters. The incumbent union members running under the O.S.U. banner have already demonstrated this support and integrity, with the bright newcomers to board service that complete the O.S.U. team pledging to do the same.

And remember, when an opposing political party from the Hollywood Division held the majority on the national board, members of the board from all Divisions put their shoulders to the wheel to affect change in that Division, with members of USAN as leaders in that effort. Further, so long as members of the Hollywood Division are listed as endorsers on USAN's website, members of all Divisions have a right to comment on this campaign. Lastly, it's everyone's right, in a democracy, to the free expression his or her opinion.

So to attack any member's comments based on zip code simply affirms a disregard for democracy.

I serve on a *national board* comprised of three interdependent Divisions, and I trust O.S.U. to partner with my Division to support the union today, and tomorrow – for the work they will do for you in NY, and alongside us nationwide.

I'm especially excited by this. These 10 candidates – incumbents Sam Robards, Matt Servitto, Joe Narciso, Justin Barrett, Andrew Dolan, along with Corey Anker, Kelly Deadmon, Jeff Gurner, Phoebe Jonas and Gy Mirano – came to O.S.U. from many avenues. Some are former members of the USAN slate, who left it to run with O.S.U. Others were selected by the Nom Comm, yet chose to join O.S.U. Still others are candidates running on their own with years of committee experience, who elected to be a part of O.S.U.

Diverse perspectives, allied under the common goal of transparent, inclusive leadership. This is a team that recognizes and honors an entire spectrum of ideas and opinions; that values healthy debate; that deliberately avoids monolithic platforms – a powerful blend of longtime experience in the boardroom invigorated with fresh perspectives.
That makes this team adroit, adaptive, and responsive to the challenges facing us all.

With O.S.U., that's exactly what you have – with a bonus. Nearly half the team are incumbents – SAG/AFTRA dual cardholding board members with a track record of working on merger. The remaining O.S.U. candidates – also dual cardholders – stand ready to contribute their new ideas, energy, and creative solutions to the merger challenge.

Here’s the math: O.S.U. – 10 candidates, 5 incumbents + 5 bright newcomers. Five of these were Nom Com picks. So of the 10, 7 are either incumbent, Nom Com recommendations, or both. ALL have extensive committee experience. USAN – 10 candidates. Nine are either incumbent, or Nom Com – sometimes both, but not always. “Celebrity candidate” Lewis Black is not an incumbent, not a Nom Com choice, and has no committee experience.

Actually, several O.S.U. candidates were picked by the Nom Com, but felt that USAN had drifted away from its roots, and declined USAN's invitation to run with them. As one O.S.U.-er put it, "I interviewed both members running for president. Twice. Sam Robards is my president. That's why I'm running with O.S.U."

That candidate turned down USAN's invitation to join its slate to run with O.S.U., and the same is true for all other O.S.U. Nom Com picks.

O.S.U.’s Four Pillars detail the differences, and you’ll be hearing more about specific programs in the next day or so. Here they are, taken from O.S.U. literature:

TRANSPARENT – O.S.U. believes that policy is discussed openly in the boardroom, not whispered in back halls. And we believe in inviting your voice into the conversation, and sharing the results of our work, whether progress reports for on-going efforts, or the final results of concluded business, with you, the member.

INCLUSIVE – O.S.U. believes that a healthy board is a board that encourages diversity: of kind of performer and contracts worked; of philosophy and political view. We believe that from vigorous debate comes best solution; from synergy of strengths comes the most powerful entity. And we believe in including you, the member, in the process of shaping the future of Screen Actors Guild, and the NY Division as we move toward merger. That means increasing board member outreach, and member participation.

FORWARD-LOOKING – The O.S.U. team is made up of NY SAG board incumbents and bright young actors hard at work in New Media. Our perspective is both historical, with a strong understanding of our union’s history, and future-facing, with an up-to-the-minute understanding of the technology shaping our professional world. We will put our expertise to the work of crafting a powerful contract that achieves fair wages for today – and tomorrow.

COLLABORATIVE – This may be our favorite pillar. O.S.U. seeks partnerships with AFTRA and other industry allies. We celebrate diverse opinions, and thrive on rigorous analysis and spirited debate. We believe true collaboration is about hearing all voices, examining all ideas, including all partners… and in not leaving the table until we’ve reached consensus. That means, all stakeholders have a share in solution – and that means everyone is dedicated to success.

O.S.U. IS the “same guys” you voted for last time! The group is made up of incumbents, Nom Com picks and candidates rich with committee experience.

O.S.U. is in favor of merging ALL members of SAG & AFTRA into one union, but differs from USAN in how we get there. O.S.U. believes the members' voices need to be heard in this process. Really heard: It wants board members and rank-and-file from all contracts and all political persuasions on merger committees. It wants NY members to contribute their ideas not just at membership meetings but at frequent, open, town hall meetings, and through "suggestion boxes" on the SAG website. O.S.U. also wants regular progress reports to go out to the members via email, and online video, so you can monitor progress and continue to participate – not just vote merger "up or down" in a ballot.

O.S.U. is dedicated to merging SAG and AFTRA, and believes the way to do it is through an open process that involves all of us.

And remember: voters can't "just vote for the incumbent party" because both parties are made up of incumbents. The difference is, O.S.U. believes merger can be successfully passed only if we learn the lessons of the earlier efforts. It's the only way to avoid merger failing as it did twice before.

Broader board room diversity; open New Union discussions and reports; better board-member communication; effective member outreach and education; powerful intra-union partnerships; New Media and Interactive preparation; Spanish language organizing; Background Performer career development; an expanded PWD program… and more, which you’ll be reading about in great detail soon.

Thanks for taking the time to consider a fellow national board member’s opinion on this election – it matters to all Divisions, regardless of one USANer’s published insistence that folks from other regions don’t have a right to an opinion on the subject.

As you can see, I feel strongly that One.Strong.Union. is the team to take the NY Division of Screen Actors Guild into the future, alongside the Regional Branch and Hollywood Divisions. I hope you'll take time to visit them on Facebook at One.Strong.Union. and cruise to their website for more information:

In Solidarity,

Mary McDonald-Lewis

National Board Member, SAG
Regional Branch Division

Monday, August 29, 2011

OSU Candidate, Jeff Gurner, On Organizing The Next Generation of SAG Members

OSU Candidate, Justin Barrett, Responds To Richard Masur on Facebook

Richard Masur writes: This year a small group of disaffected SAG National Board members and Alternates who owe their incumbent status to USAN, have decided that they haven't gotten their way in the Board room, because "something is wrong". So they've mounted a counter slate. Please DO NOT BE FOOLED. They are doing this because of personality not policy conflicts. The proof is they cannot define a single policy on which they differ from USAN's. 

Well, there it is, out in the open.  This is the language those of us on NY Board have become accustomed to. Mr Masur's statement helps to shine a light on the absurdity of what seems to be, historically, the commonplace practice of many SAG Board Members and their supporters when they are challenged.  The claim, when they are threatened, is many times "this one or that one doesn't like me" or "they hate us" - that's why they're doing this.  It couldn't possibly be that they have a different point of view worthy of respect or examination.  This latest threat to the common good has taken the fearsome shape of unobstructed democracy.  Mercy... how terrifying.  The strategy of devaluing a differing opinion you feel threatened by is recognizable to me.  I remember having seen it during the first Bush administration, when Karl Rove was running domestic policy in our country.  The President himself was not capable of doing the job of leading the country, so an intelligent advisor was really at the helm.  

The proof Mr. Masur offers is as hollow as the policy of discrediting any who disagree with him.  Anyone who has read the literature that OSU has put out can tell there are in fact lots of substantive differences between these two groups, but the most important, is perhaps in the way we would choose to lead.  A true meritocracy is a system in which leadership candidates or policy decisions are evaluated based on qualifications and objective intellectual criteria. The NY SAG Board currently does not function this way. It should, but it doesn't and this ain't good news folks. For merger to be the best it can, for us to stay relevant in a new century with New Media, we will need to operate in the most professional manner possible.  

Here is why I am running with OSU this year.  I have zero political ambitions and I don't care what party or individual gets the credit for merger or successful contract negotiations.  I care even less for the personal politics that always seem to invade what should be straight business affairs of the Guild.  I don't have first hand knowledge about the political difficulty with MF and USAN and UFS over the years nor do I know well or care about the players in that drama.  The reason I serve the Guild is that my family of five is dependent upon the future integrity of our contracts.  There is nothing more important to me on the planet  than the well being of my children.  I care about business and money.  Who could honestly believe that I would allow the fleeting and absurd personality issues of a group of actors to effect my decisions about that?    

Richard Masur has been fond of saying outside of the boardroom that he does not care what the merger looks like as long as it happens - that's just not good enough for me.  This is an insanely complicated effort upon which the fortunes of over a hundred thousand people lie.  If it's not good enough for you either, then vote OSU.  

Friday, August 26, 2011


To be so blessed with an endorsement from Alina Segura-Bustamante is a high honor for Gy Mirano. Francisco Rivela was a LION in our SAG community, for HOLA members, and for the entire Screen Actors Guild membership. I know Gy will make Alina proud, and I know Francisco will be watching over her.
-- Paul Christie, former 2nd National V.P. and New York President.
Dear Colleagues and Friends,

When I decided to run in this year's SAG New York election, a very special person was in my thoughts: my dear friend and colleague Francisco Rivela. His memory gives me the strength and inspiration to get through the most difficult moments. It was his desire I run, and I'm finally here. Francisco’s wish is reality, and I'm glad to finally fullfil it. I'm running in his name, to carry the torch of his legacy.

Today I'm deeply touched to say I have the great honor to be endorsed by Alina Segura-Bustamante, Francisco's extraordinary wife. Alina, the love of his life and his biggest supporter, walked with him on the difficult path of being a responsible union leader, committed and passionate about his work.

Francisco was masterful in his craft as stage actor and voice-over artist. Audiences will never forget the magic he created when he stepped on stage or behind the microphone. The impact of his legacy is felt and lived everyday by actors everywhere.

Without Francisco we would not have a Spanish Language Organizing Department, or Spanish Language Media Task Force. It all started here in New York 10 years ago in his living room – a small start with huge potential, in that way great things are often created. He called his friends and tempted other actors by wooing us to a meeting to discuss community affairs over tapas and Spanish wine. That was Francisco: "Let's get their attention, here I am, this is what we need to get done."  Francisco de armas tomar. Francisco always took charge.

I met some of my OSU colleagues and friends back then, in the days of the strike: Paul Christie, Cynthia Vance, Paul Reggio and Sue-Anne Morrow. It was Francisco who took me to my first SAG rally and first picket line, and taught me the value of our union. He led by example: knowledge, passion, honesty, hard work, he was never afraid to take a stand. This is Francisco's legacy and gift to me, these precious friends and colleagues who supported him and cared for him deeply. Alina knows that, and we embrace her as our sister.

We all have each other now. Cynthia's words reflect what I feel: "I miss him often, the velvet throated, brilliant and charming man. Beloved..." Beloved and sorely missed by many.

It is an honor to still walk this path with the friends of our community, these exceptional union leaders who embraced Francisco, and all he stood for.  The story repeats itself. I'm lucky to have their support, and with Alina’s generous endorsement, I will carry Francisco Rivela’s message on.

Together we raise a goblet of fine Spanish wine and say with pride : Here is to you Francisco!!  You live in our hearts forever.

In solidarity,
Gy Mirano

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


With just about a week to go until ballots drop, it's time to let folks know why I am running for the board with the One.Strong.Union. team.

I earned my SAG card back in 1992, after getting cast in a couple of on-camera commercials. Acting was more of a hobby than a profession back then, but the experience was exhilarating. I went off to college, got a degree in Film & Video and found myself employed within the film industry - behind the camera. In 2001, I felt my creative drive kick in and I took a shot at voice overs. Fortunately, before too long I was able to carve out a new lifestyle and work at something for which I had great passion. And my union, SAG, was always there with total support. In 2009, I took part in the Commercials Wages and Working Conditions Committee and found myself on the negotiating team, going up against the monolithic JPC. We won a great contract in a very challenging time. Though approached by members of SAG to continue my service, I was there under the auspices of AFTRA and loyalty told me that is where I should begin. I have been on the NY local board of AFTRA since.

Over the past couple of years I have participated in SAG committee work, and I have always planned to give back to my mother union (the Guild) in an even greater way. As another merger effort mounted, I was asked to be on the New Union Committee - AFTRA's side of the merger committee, which along with SAG's Merger Task Force, makes up the G1. That's when I decided it was time to join SAG's board as well. The only way merger will happen is for both unions to agree on how to come together, and so much of this work is done in the boardroom. For me to be on both boards would help get this most crucial task accomplished.

So here I am.

If I were you, the questions that I would want answered are the following: Why me? Why O.S.U.? Why now? There is so much to say so I am just going to shoot from the hip. First, change is a very fundamental part of life. Whether it's the seasons, the aging process, fluctuations in the markets and our nation's economy, or politics, change happens. It must happen. Life is organic and in constant flux - and for good reason. Because without change, complacency naturally sets in. New faces and new voices are valuable for their much needed fresh perspective, and they bring new energy and the hunger and desire to work hard and get things done.

I know - and am even friendly with - a number of the current USAN leaders. Many of them are nice people. But this isn't about who I like. It's about who can do the best job. It's about who we want to make the choices that will affect tens of thousands of performers and our families. And I assure you that it isn't the current seat holders, at least not as a whole. In fact, if you were a fly on the wall in many of those meetings, you would be unhappy to learn what goes on behind closed doors. It certainly isn't the grand job USAN claims they are doing. No, I haven't been in that room either - not yet. But I have heard, witnessed and verified certain factual details from incumbents who are now on the O.S.U. team, and from other USAN members, past and present.

Keep something in mind while evaluating the current leadership - the one thing USAN themselves keep repeating - they have accomplished things that have gotten us to this point. Perhaps, but what have you done for me lately, USAN? How long are you going to hang your collective hat on the accomplishments of the past? We face an incredibly crucial time RIGHT NOW and the future absolutely depends on our levelheadedness, desire and ability to show up and do what is right.

In addition, despite USAN's begging them not to, five members of USAN have separated from the slate and are running independently with O.S.U. This glaring action cannot be ignored. First, those who left USAN clearly disagree with USAN philosophy. Second, these incumbents are also responsible for the very accomplishments that USAN waves like a banner in the air. But just as USAN has "borrowed" our marketing - from our web address to our platform of transparency - they want to take sole credit for gains that were also achieved by O.S.U. The difference is that when WE talk about the very necessary changes, it's because we are the original authors behind them and are aware of the methods to proactively implement them. USAN has conveniently decided to freshen up their website - after YEARS of dormancy - and in the eleventh hour to parrot our concepts as a reactive copycat tactic to attempt to undermine our campaign. They have felt threatened by our mere existence from day one, and perhaps for good reason. We are not here to form a social club. We want to revamp a dysfunctional process and turn it into nothing short of what it is meant to be - a host for democracy and open, collaborative discourse where real and effective leadership can do what is best for the membership. Period.

This brings to me to another distinction. I believe - and O.S.U. believes - that the Nominating Committee (Nom Com) does not serve a great purpose. In fact, it is actually part of the problem. Keep in mind, I served on this very committee in 2009 and 2010 and just this year came before it AND was chosen by it. Here's how it works: the board selects the Nom Com and the Nom Com essentially selects who will serve on the board! That's not democracy. That's not checks and balances. That's circular, back door politics. And it isn't good. The largest division of our guild - Hollywood - got rid of it, and AFTRA doesn't have one. So why is the New York leadership clinging to it? Because it keeps the party that's in power - in this case, USAN - in power.

Speaking of Hollywood: Ken Howard and Amy Aquino are doing a great job. I am glad that they hold the very significant positions they do. They are effective, they're helping us move toward merger and they're dedicated to the Guild - as a WHOLE. However, with all respect, none of that equates with knowing what is best for NEW YORK. They are 3,000 miles away. They wear LA-tinted glasses, and they believe - right or wrong - that they owe a debt to USAN, the very group that helped get them elected. So while I like them, I respect them and appreciate their service, their recommendation of USAN should not be taken as gospel.

I hope I've explained "Why O.S.U.?" and "Why me?," which leaves "Why now?" The answer is powerfully simple: because this is the most important moment for the Screen Actors Guild since its founding seventy eight years ago. We are creating the successor union that will represent all performers who work in recorded media - now, and for generations to come. USAN wants to encourage you to just, "Get it done. We'll fix it later." Scarier words could not be spoken. Am I pro-merger? 100% YES. I serve on the G1 Merger Committee - of course I am. Is the O.S.U. team pro-merger? Absolutely - every single one. We all believe it's the most important thing we will accomplish on your behalf. But it must be done right. O.S.U. promises to help craft a merger that considers all contracts, cares for all members and ensures the safety of our pension and health funds BEFORE it comes to you on the ballot... not "fix it later."

If we want a merger that will create the strongest new union possible, we must bring to the process the history and knowledge of experienced board members, and the energy and original perspectives that only fresh eyes can provide.

In closing, I want you to vote for me, for Sam Robards for President and for my fellow O.S.U. teammates. BUT much more important than my desire to serve you, what is TRULY the crux of this campaign: the return of democracy to the NY SAG board.

What I really want more than your vote for me, is your vote for what you believe is right. I hope that you will see that they are one and the same. But if they are not, I fully support your desire to vote for anyone. Just get out there and do it! Make a choice, take a stand and go for it. It is your right.

It is the only thing standing between the success of our present and hope for our future, and the dismal possibility of what may come if you don't.

In solidarity,


NY SAG Election 2011: A Comparison - An Open Letter From ONE.STRONG.UNION. Candidates for the New York Board

YOUR SAG BALLOT HAS ARRIVED, and for the first time in years, you have a real choice in this election. We are on the cusp of merger with AFTRA and a strong New York board is essential at this crucial moment. Here are just a few vital areas where ONE.STRONG.UNION. and USAN don't see eye to eye:


-USAN leaders appointed the same few people to represent NY on all the committees involved in this complex task, including a USAN candidate with no SAG work experience. By shutting out experienced and effective board members outside their circle, they have limited the varied and thoughtful input that will bring you the best merger possible. 


-The time to merge SAG and AFTRA is NOW and O.S.U. is 100% committed to one strong union representing all members. We support and will improve the current merger process by creating opportunities for all NY members to contribute your ideas. THIS IS YOUR MERGER. O.S.U. will make sure YOUR NEEDS are met. We know that only an inclusive, well thought out merger will pass and WE ARE NOT TAKING THIS MERGER FOR GRANTED. 


-During the last TV/Theatrical contract negotiation, USAN put this exploding medium on the back burner. 

-O.S.U. candidates work all SAG contracts and recognize the importance of capturing our fair share of this growing revenue stream. We're ready for the next negotiation with specific proposals to get you more money for your work in New Media. O.S.U. has what it takes to protect your future.


-USAN routinely appoints people to negotiating committees who DON'T WORK THE CONTRACT, often with disastrous results. In 2009, SAG LOST JURISDICTION over Interactive jobs. The NY chair of the negotiation - a current USAN candidate - had minimal experience under the contract and did nothing to prevent this debacle. He defended this disaster by dismissing the income potential of this MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR business.

-O.S.U believes everyone on a negotiating team must understand, value and work the contract being negotiated. ONLY QUALIFIED REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE PRINCIPAL AND BACKGROUND COMMUNITIES SHOULD REPRESENT YOU IN ALL NEGOTIATIONS. Merger gives us another shot at claiming a bigger piece of the gaming business for union performers - O.S.U. won't take that opportunity for granted.


USAN supports the flawed Nominating Committee system, and expects everyone selected by the "Nom Comm" to run with USAN. Here's how it works: the board majority selects the Nom Comm, which in turn “approves” the board majority as candidates! USAN refuses to re-consider this questionable system, because it keeps them in power.

-O.S.U. will abolish the Nominating Committee, which promotes entrenchment, not accountability. We will ensure that these kinds of unhealthy practices don’t find their way into the new merged union.


- USAN supported a new rule that allows a board member to replace themselves with anyone they want. A celebrity can run, resign and give a National Board seat to a member who didn’t even stand for election, disregarding your votes.

-The board is elected by the membership to protect member interests. When a National Board seat is vacated, it should be filled by an alternate YOU elected. O.S.U. will demand an objective replacement process that honors your choices.

Electing O.S.U. guarantees a board that values INCLUSION, demands TRANSPARENCY and anticipates the future through FORWARD-LOOKING vision. We will COLLABORATE with SAG board members nationwide and partner with AFTRA leadership to create the strongest New Union possible.

Here are just a few initiatives O.S.U. has planned to better represent and include you:

**Detailed email and video reports after every board meeting.**

**Regular merger updates and opportunities to tell the board what YOU want in this merger.**

**Opening the boardroom to NY members - bring your concerns directly to the board, IN PERSON.**

**Contract "Open Houses" - ask questions about the contracts you work and get answers. We need to hear from principal and background performers about what's working and what's not.**

**Predicting the future - we'll establish an "Innovations Committee," to research emerging developments in technology that will effect our industry and your paycheck.**

Visit for more information on how O.S.U. will serve NY actors.

You have your ballot.  Make your voice heard. Ballots must be received by Sept. 22nd.

Elect ONE.STRONG.UNION. It's time.




NY Board of Directors:











Monday, August 22, 2011


National Board, 2008-present.
2008 SAG TV/Theatrical Taskforce
2011 Joint SAG/AFTRA TV-Theatrical/Exhibit A Negotiating Committee
2011 Joint SAG/AFTRA TV-Theatrical/Exhibit A Wages & Working Conditions
Stunt and Safety Committee
HealthCare/SafetyNet Committee
National Disciplinary Review Committee - NY Chair

Dear SAG Brothers and Sisters,

My name is Sam Robards. I am a third generation SAG member and have been a working New York actor for thirty years. After three years as a National Board member, I have decided to run for New York President of SAG.

My first year as a National Director was eye opening, to say the least. I lived through the infamous "30-hour board meeting," joined in the Written Assent action that made it possible to replace Doug Allen with the impressive David White, and helped to finally bring home a SAG TV/Theatrical Contract as a member of the SAG TV/Theatrical Task Force. I was encouraged by the progress that we were making. There was the powerful sense that we, as union leaders and members, had turned a corner.

But then I began to notice deeply troubling trends in the SAG NY boardroom.

When I joined the NY board there was a lot of talk about "voting your conscience," and assurances from the leadership that "we listen to everyone." The reality was something quite different. The NY boardroom has become less and less a place where open, considered discussion and debate are encouraged. USAN representatives – those in the majority who control the NY board – seem to enter every discussion with a predetermined agenda and an entrenched and immovable perspective. Far from being an environment where independent thought is welcome, there is no possibility of changing minds or seeking out better solutions. Bloc voting prevails.

This lack of an inclusive process extends beyond the boardroom. It is reflected in our relationship with the members: the information you get is limited and lacks real-time accountability. For instance, almost a year ago we elected a new Pension & Health trustee to represent the NY Division. NY has only four actor trustees representing over 20,000 members. Trusteeships are lifetime appointments. The work of our trustees affects the lives of all working actors and will deeply impact merger.

Do you know who your new trustee is? O.S.U. believes you should.

We are serious about accountability and we intend to keep you apprised of what's happening in the boardroom. We will energize the board by bringing fresh, new initiatives that will provide you with more effective representation and ensure that the new union we'll establish with AFTRA will be focused on all our members' needs. You must be able to trust that your board will do what's in your best interest. I promise you that I, and the entire O.S.U. team, will honor that trust.

The four principles that guide O.S.U.'s approach to service are:


An open board process that allows ALL points of view will prevent past failures from recurring. Insularity and "old school" approaches won't get us to the strong new union all performers deserve. As your president, I will welcome independent, creative thought and I will support original initiatives. I will guide our board conversations rather than dictate them. In Los Angeles, the introduction of new voices through elections at both SAG and AFTRA during the past few years has been instrumental in getting us closer to a successful merger. It's time for NY to follow this promising trend. O.S.U. will ensure that you have the sharpest, most knowledgeable members looking after your interests by making important committee appointments based on meritocracy, not personal loyalties.


O.S.U. will establish a new practice of informing NY members of the progress being made on your behalf after EVERY New York board meeting. You'll hear from us via email and you'll also get NY SAG updates via video. We will also provide the opportunity for any NY member to have their concerns addressed and their ideas heard by speaking directly, in person, with the board. These are just a few of the many O.S.U. communication initiatives that we have planned.


As NY president I will pursue creative approaches to monetizing the ever-increasing slice of the pie that New Media represents. As a member of the AFTRA Exhibit A Negotiating Committee in 2008 and the SAG TV/Theatrical Task Force in 2009, I accepted that in order to complete the negotiations, we needed to give a little on New Media. I did so knowing that these New Media provisions would "sunset" in 2011.

But in 2011 we did not make great strides in New Media, which disappointed me as a member of the negotiating team. There was no effort to reduce streaming windows; no serious consideration given to alternate models for residuals payments, such as percentage-based residuals. I do not believe these concerns have been taken seriously by USAN leadership in New York.

That's why I'm so proud to be running with O.S.U. teammates Justin Barrett, Joe Narciso and Jeff Gurner. These gentlemen are fully conversant in the latest New Media developments and will be valuable leaders in this crucial area as we speed along the information superhighway. There is no one else currently in the NY boardroom who comes close to these three in their knowledge of, and experience with, New Media.

In our rapidly changing world, it's enormously important to maintain a dialogue with SAG performers BETWEEN negotiations. O.S.U. will hold regular Contract Open Houses where the board will hear from performers about their work experiences and their ideas for a future that compensates actors fairly for their work in New Media. If we don't actively engage our members and think outside the box, New Media could be basic cable all over again.

I am 100% committed to merger for all members of both unions. But after hearing some of the language coming from New York SAG Board leaders, I had grave concerns about whether this merger would succeed. I believe our members deserve something better than the "any merger" USAN might be willing to accept. We have the opportunity to create a new union that will not only combine the strengths of SAG and AFTRA, but will establish new standards and practices that will make it possible to serve our members more effectively than either union ever has before. We can make organizing, which should be our number one priority, an integral part of the structure of our new union. We can investigate and create a system of governance and service that considers the disparate needs of our members – this merger must protect and support all of us. We need a merger that not only incorporates all the hard work that has been done thus far, but includes and celebrates the new, energetic, informed points of view that in New York only O.S.U. can bring. Merger is THE critical issue for all of us. We MUST get it right this time. We simply cannot afford to fail.

I considered not running for the NY board this year. I was concerned that the personalization of service, premium on ownership of ideas and political game playing I witnessed left little room to get much good done. I saw qualified, smart, effective board members relegated to the sidelines, while those who "toed the party line" were promoted to leadership positions. But I, and the other four O.S.U. incumbents (Justin Barrett, Andrew Dolan, Joe Narciso and Matt Servitto) decided that we had a responsibility to the membership to stay in the game and improve the quality of service of the NY SAG board. How lucky we all are that five impressive, dedicated members joined us in this challenge – Corey Anker, Kelly Deadmon, Jeff Gurner, Phoebe Jonas and Gy Mirano.

O.S.U. promises to listen to, and really hear, the opinions of everyone, including those with whom we might not agree. If we limit the voices in our most important conversations, we will enter the future hobbled - we will not achieve the best possible new union, and we will fail to move forward into the future.

O.S.U. promises to embrace and defend the one thing that will save us from that failure: unobstructed democracy. That is what O.S.U., and I, will deliver.

Vote ONE.STRONG.UNION. It’s time.

With respect and in solidarity,


Saturday, August 20, 2011

OSU Candidate, Andrew Dolan, On The Challenges Of Working Overseas

Get To Know Candidate, Corey Anker, And Why He's Running With OSU

OSU Candidate, Andrew Dolan On Board Service And Why OSU


TWO MINUTES WITH JOE & JUSTIN - OSU Candidates Narciso and Barrett On Merger

TWO MINUTES WITH JOE & JUSTIN - OSU Candidates Narciso and Barrett On Negative Campaigning


Joseph C. Riley Award - Commercials Strike of 2000  
2006 Commercials Contract Wages and Working Conditions Committee
2010 TV/Theatrical Contract Wages and Working Conditions Committee

These are challenging times for our industry. The proliferation of non-union work, the explosion of New Media, and the coming merger are just a few of the issues that need serious attention.

I’m running for the SAG NY board because I want to take on these issues.  I’m running with One.Strong.Union. because I believe that the four pillars of our team’s platform – Inclusive, Transparent, Forward-Looking and Collaborative leadership– will get us to the best responses to these critical challenges. With O.S.U.’s combination of NY board incumbents and energetic newcomers, we bring experience and bold new thinking to the table.

And at this juncture, we need just that.

We need inclusive leaders to welcome a broad range of perspectives and ideas as we work to stem the non-union tide. We need leaders with current knowledge and experience to take on technology and guarantee that our members are fairly compensated for their New Media work. We need strong leaders to collaborate openly and confidently with AFTRA to make this merger the best it can be, the 21st century organization it is destined to be. We need transparency so that you, the members, know step by step and inch by inch what we are doing, how we are doing it – and how you can help!

I am ready and able to be one of these leaders: I work inclusively, am dedicated to transparency, am eager to learn and willing to partner with all.  I’m an independent thinker who wants to see the very best for SAG and the future of our unions. I became involved in this election for only the right reasons: I want to give back to the union that I have been a proud member of for more than 23 years. And that, dear readers, is the truth.

Through these 2+ decades I've worked nearly every contract. I am fortunate to have health insurance for my family and a pension for the future. I want that to continue, and I want it available to as many members as possible.

One of my biggest concerns for the future is that our union work stay just that: union. For years I’ve been talking to fellow actors, casting directors, producers and agents about the growing trend of non-union commercial work in our business. Like you, I'm distressed to see products that I pitched in the past going with non-union ads. A big part of keeping our work union is making union membership appealing to young actors. We were all non-union once, but most of us couldn’t wait to get our card. Now, there are young actors out there that don’t see the point of joining SAG. How can that be?! Let’s educate. Let’s inform. Let’s gather and spread information to get that work back.

Once elected, my O.S.U. teammate Phoebe Jonas and I are committed to addressing the non-union issue. I believe that we can turn that tide around.

One.Strong.Union. is an amazing group of people that will bring new life into the boardroom. It’s inspiring to be around this group’s passion. Passion for achieving stronger contracts, creating more work, making this merger the amazing success that it can be… and engaging you, the member, all along the way. It’s a passion for change. We love our work and our union too much to give anything less than one hundred percent. I’m excited and proud to be a part of One.Strong.Union.

I can’t wait to see what we will do.

Vote for Sam Robards and all the One.Strong.Union. candidates. It's time.

In solidarity,

Kelly Deadmon


Committee Service:
Commercials Contract W & W and Negotiating Committee-2009
National New Technologies
Internet/New Media Commercials Subcommittee
National Commercial Performers - NY Vice-chair
Commercials Contract Oversight Committee
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I've been on the NY board of Screen Actors Guild for two terms. The learning curve is steep and the time commitment is real.  It's been said before but it bears repeating: anybody who chooses to serve deserves the respect of a grateful membership. And the membership in turn deserves the purest form of democracy we can provide. In the coming election, for the first time in forever, we have the privilege to choose among many different candidates volunteering to serve in the SAG NY division. That cannot, should not ever be characterized as a bad thing for any democratic institution. Informed choice, and respect for another's choice, is at the core of how we govern effectively in a union. It is also the hallmark of a healthy, free society. 
What are the choices we face? Fortunately, there is agreement among ALL candidates that joining forces with AFTRA is essential. But how will our elected leaders approach merger? Will they engage these challenges with transparency, allowing the strongest solutions to rise? I believe that no one – no political party and no individual board member – can single-handedly provide answers. For that matter, no one should be handing us their solutions.  We must devise our future together, through open-minded exploration and full-throated discourse. 
“Why now?” Some have said this is an ill-chosen moment to think outside the box – that New York should stick with the plan and go with whichever candidates the Nominating Committee put out there. It won’t surprise members who’ve known me or my board service to hear that I challenge this orthodoxy. I don’t believe in “doing it the way we’ve always done it,” especially given repeated evidence that such an approach shuts down healthy debate, employs chastisement and secrecy in the name of unity, and cuts off new ideas at the knees, holding our careers back as the industry races forward. The board members we elect this fall will have a profound influence on our careers.  As we enter the merger home stretch we need to support the most courageous and qualified candidates, period. At this point, fealty and politics need to play second fiddle to our jobs.
There is only one moment in time where the constitution of a union is fluid. One moment to get it right.  At this moment we cannot fear our differences of opinion. They are in fact our greatest treasure. As a SAG member, to explore a differing view point is my right.  As one of your elected leaders, it is my job. To me, this is a requirement of a healthy merger process and also the best trajectory for the NY Board. We must practice leadership where every decision is made with dispassionate analysis, and every idea or individual judged on their merits alone. 
I left a board meeting one night last term and decided I had a very different idea of how governance could and should be handled in NY. I had sat through too many meetings where vital committee appointments were made with an utter disregard for the qualifications of the candidates. I had experienced too many times the current majority's disinterest in intelligent discourse and debate. I had witnessed too many bloc votes - had seen board members actually change their votes at the insistence of USAN leaders. My view of how best to represent the members as an elected leader differed so substantially from my USAN colleagues, running with them was out of the question.  
USAN has a goal of each year of occupying every seat on the New York board.  O.S.U. does not share that goal. On the contrary, we believe that only a range of ideas and opinions, in open deliberation, will provide the strongest and wisest solution. If O.S.U.’s goal was to replace USAN, we would have recruited and run 14 candidates. We did not do that, and it was on purpose. The 10 of us found one another (some NY board incumbents, others fresh new independents) and discovered we had similar concerns and a common vision for serving the membership as transparently and effectively as possible. O.S.U is not trying to lock down the NY boardroom. Far from it. We are trying to open it up.  
As regards the NY presidential race, from the moment I walked into the boardroom two years ago, Sam Robards struck me as an ideal candidate for NY leadership. I have served under Mike Hodge and, like many people, I feel he is a thoughtful and dignified man.  Sam Robards is a president. He is an original thinker, a gracious and jocular statesman. He is forthright and his capacity for decisiveness is perfectly balanced with his willingness to hear every concern regardless of the source. He is a true leader and I am proud to stand with him now. 
Now is the moment to choose - choose a strong NY board that will ask the hard questions about your Pension & Health in a new union, the hard questions about the constitution of your new union. Now is the moment to choose a strong NY board that won't play petty politics while fair compensation for new revenue streams hangs in the balance. Choose a strong NY board that brings real work experience into the room. Choose O.S.U.  
The choices we make today determine our relevance in the new century. Nothing less is at stake. As elected leadership we cannot disregard the opinions of those we disagree with, we must engage in informed debate and challenge each other to deliver the very best merger and contract negotiations that we can. And that is what OSU will bring you.  It’s time.
In Solidarity,
Justin Barrett

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I've been a member of Screen Actors Guild since 1997, when I graduated from Grad School, and was lucky enough to begin working almost immediately.

For many years I felt so grateful to be working at all that I happily signed whatever contracts were offered without question. I assumed whoever was "in charge" of such things had my best interests at heart and that there was little I could do to contribute or change them anyway. I voted the way I was told to by those in charge and went on my merry way...

...until that changed. At a certain point, I realized my career was not a fluke. That “luck” had nothing to do with it. Sure, every job has some luck in it, but I'd worked hard and was good at what I did. I began to see that when people hired me, they did so because I possessed a skill set that had value. I stopped feeling like a grateful and passive recipient and began to see myself as the steward of my own career.

Hugely instrumental in this shift of perception were my fellow actors. I saw people around me who were not only passionate about their work but who also cared deeply about creating a better environment in which we could all continue to flourish.

I found myself listening to (and, ok, butting in on) every waiting-room conversation about union service, contract negotiations, changing landscapes like New Media and the ever-present need to earn a decent wage. I leaned heavily on people I knew who were engaged in union service – texting them from the set when a producer asked me to do something I wasn't sure was covered in my contract, pulling them aside in auditions to ask about protecting myself in the wild and woolly world of conflicts, cornering them in callbacks for "Internet Only" commercials to ask what the rate was based on.

Yes, I have amazing agents, but when push came to shove I found myself returning again and again to the source... my Union and, specifically, the people I knew on the Board who demonstrated again and again that they knew the landscape better than anyone and were several steps ahead of the game as far as finding solutions to the many issues we as actors face today.

These people run with me today as One.Strong.Union. The rest of us are new to board service (but with years of combined committee service) and are solidly convinced that, along with the board incumbents on the O.S.U. team, our fresh perspective and ability to bring new energy to the table is a crucial ingredient in the recipe for a strong and relevant Successor Union.

We are the people with your best interests at heart – we are with you auditioning, working in the booth, hoofing it with you to that next call-back. We stand beside you as you get a check for a New Media or Interactive job that looks way smaller than it should. We share your concerns about your rising health care premiums. We believe you should know when vital decisions and appointments are made within your union, and we believe you deserve to know how and why they are made. We care deeply about your input, and want you to be a part of the process.
We intend to arm our specific committees with people intimately familiar with each particular landscape, to give membership every advantage possible in the face of new technology. We welcome healthy discourse and debate, and will not silence those with whom we do not agree. We agree with you that Merger MUST be accomplished now for all members of both unions, and it MUST be the best Merger possible.

My name is Phoebe Jonas, we are One.Strong.Union., and we look forward to serving you in 2011-12.

Elect Sam Robards, President, and the whole ONE.STRONG.UNION. team!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


By Gy Mirano
New York Division member

Recently, I read about a seminar that helps actors with work visas navigate the U.S. employment system.  There is already a continuous stream of foreign actors arriving to work on production sets from Miami to Manhattan for lower rates and unregulated conditions with non-union contracts.  As an advocate for U.S. actors, Screen Actors Guild is paying attention.

Last year SAG began a dialogue with several advertisers who tend to film English-language commercials under a SAG contract while doing the Spanish versions non-union.  SAG also reached out to several studios and other entities on behalf of the dubbing community, whose work is being outsourced to our Latin-American counterparts.

In addition to reaching out directly to producers, the Guild hosts several events throughout the year, some in partnership with other organizations, to promote cultural and business integration. For three years SAG has hosted a luncheon for filmmakers at the New York Latino International Film Festival.  We have also had the opportunity to work with Revolución Latina, AHAA (Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies), HOLA (Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors), and the SAG Foundation to strengthen the union presence within our community.  These events are a clever organizing tool which will bring positive results.

Using strategies to attract rather than antagonize is good business.  The more filmmakers, producers and companies SAG can attract, the more jobs we will have access to.  Actors need roles in independent films, but we also need those on-camera and voice-over spots that help make our salary for the year.  We want to book guests spots on episodic TV, but we also want the dubbing job when these shows are targeted to the Hispanic market.  Our community needs CBS as much as Telemundo, and shows like “Law and Order” as much as “Soy tu Dueña”, a telenovela that got the highest ratings of all television programs last year, and it was the U.S. Latin audience which drove those ratings.

Many work opportunities for Latino actors are here at home, but if these work pools are not organized under union contracts, we will not be able to enjoy our rightfully earned slice of the Hispanic market boom.  Now is the time for all Latino actors to unite and help organize our work.  Bravo, SAG, for helping us move ahead in the right direction!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Well my goodness!

Politics is really no place for the weak-stomached.  I am rapidly realizing that my own personal constitution is far better suited to actual service, while the political thing makes me want to run for the Alka-Seltzer.

Before I explain why I got involved in service, and with One.Strong.Union. in particular, let me just say that I am surprised at my own naiveté in what I imagined the political process of our union would be like.  “Ego-driven,” “petty,” “mean-spirited,” “selfish,” and my favorite, “elitist” - all words I’ve recently heard to describe the election effort of O.S.U. So with my status as a neophyte aside, and my pride as a 15-year veteran of our Guild at the forefront, I must say I’m just plain flabbergasted.

Look, I’m the new guy here.  To be frank, with regards to “personality politics” (another favorite I’ve heard bandied about): I.  DON'T.  CARE.  Put simply: I don’t have any interest in what has been - only what can be.  Looking ahead to tomorrow, it's service I'm interested in.  Because solid service is how together, board members and members alike, we will protect and preserve our professions.  My two sons, my incredibly patient wife and the contracts we all work - as on camera actors, background performers, voice actors and more - are why I’m in this thing.  I largely make my living in voice-overs, on-camera commercials, video games, episodic television and audio books. Additionally, I’ve worked background and nearly all of the AFTRA and AEA contracts. My family has its health insurance through SAG, and I know, one day (a day seemingly creeping up faster than I’d ever imagined) I’ll be thanking Dionysus and Thalia for my SAG pension.

In the face of light-speed changes and challenging times, I want One.Strong.Union. that continues to afford this opportunity to all members, and as a merged new union for all members of SAG and AFTRA, one that provides even more avenues to do so.

In that spirit, I got involved two years ago by volunteering my services to committee work where I thought my experience could make a difference - the Commercial Performers Committee and the New Technology Committee.  I got to see a bit of the sausage-making in action and assist some incredibly bright, committed people.  That inspired me to volunteer on an even deeper level, obliging me to throw my hat into the NY Board ring.  I followed all the proper channels, going before the Nominating Committee twice, to no avail.  All good, no “sour grapes” here (another of those pesky political monikers I’ve had slung at me in the past two weeks).  I knew this year, if the DNC did not choose to endorse me, I would pull an independent petition and seek election to the board.

The compilation of the candidates of O.S.U. was an organic process.  In casting directors’ lobbies, agents’ offices and on the streets we connected and came together with a singular vision: put the best and brightest into the boardroom to usher in the era of merger and to continue the honorable work of ensuring our contracts are smart, fair, and forward-thinking.

To that end, I highly recommend you read Justin Barrett’s article on New Media on the O.S.U. blog; here’s a working stiff who DEEPLY understands the need to think outside the box in order to stay ahead of the curve in our rapidly changing industry.

If I am elected, I intend to focus like a hawk on two vital areas: the proliferation of non-union work - developing creative ideas on how to streamline our connection with the seven major conglomerates, and addressing the changing face of how our work and compensation are defined in the massive, messy, chaotic realm of new media (a little chat about category 2 industrials or webisodes, anyone?).  I personally believe we are heading toward a world where all our media will be content-based, streamed to us in some sort of a la carte fashion via the internet.  Much of it already is. If we don’t jump out in front of that and define our terms, I believe we will find ourselves in the same caught-with-our-pants-down position we ended up in with basic cable television.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I have no interest in mud-slinging. I count many of the USAN candidates among my friends, and the ones I don’t know personally, I have no doubt are upstanding people with altruistic intentions.

But for all the reasons I've shared here, I’m running with O.S.U.  I respect my running-mates tremendously; I have watched their dynamism in the workplace, in committees and in this campaign process. Joining forces with them in an effort to serve on the board suited me because I know we are like-minded in our passion about the workplace, the work itself and about the kind of NY SAG board we want serving you: one that is forward-thinking, transparent, inclusive and collaborative.

So may the best candidates win.  That’s all.  If you see me in the weeks leading up to the election, I implore you to engage me.  I’m happy to discuss some of my specific ideas for organizing and what I think can be done regarding the critical issues facing SAG today and our shining New Union tomorrow.

Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz...

Jeff Gurner

PS! I hope you’ll join One.Strong.Union. candidates every Wednesday at Spoon (17 West 20th St. btw. 5th & 6th) anytime between 1 and 2:30PM for coffee and conversation – meet us, and bring us your ideas, questions, and input.  For more on O.S.U., visit  And please visit us on Facebook for regular updates:… another place you can contribute your thoughts, and help shape the future of our union and your profession.   It’s time.