“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
AN OPINION FROM ANOTHER DIVISION OF SCREEN ACTORS GUILD
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.
WHY SHOULD A MEMBER OF ANOTHER DIVISION OF THE SAG NATIONAL BOARD CARE ABOUT THE NY DIVISION?
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.
IF THEY'RE INDEPENDENTS, WHAT'S WITH "ONE.STRONG.UNION."?
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.
DON'T WE NEED INCUMBENTS AT THE HELM DURING THE MERGER PROCESS?
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.
BUT ISN'T THE USAN SLATE THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE’S PICK FOR ELECTION TO THE BOARD?
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.
SO HOW IS O.S.U. DIFFERENT FROM USAN?
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.
BUT IF BOTH GROUPS ARE FOR MERGER, WHY DON'T I JUST VOTE FOR THE INCUMBENT PARTY... THE SAME GUYS I VOTED FOR LAST TIME?
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.
FINE. WHAT ARE O.S.U.’s GOALS FOR THE NY DIVISION?
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: OneStrongUnion.com.
National Board Member, SAG
Regional Branch Division