Tuesday, August 16, 2011

JEFF GURNER - ONE.STRONG.UNION. CANDIDATE for the NEW YORK SAG BOARD

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 naivet√© 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 www.onestrongunion.com.  And please visit us on Facebook for regular updates: http://tinyurl.com/3ndr7sg… another place you can contribute your thoughts, and help shape the future of our union and your profession.   It’s time.