Screen Actors Guild

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Screen Actors Guild
[1]

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) was an American labor union which represented over 100,000 film and television principal and background performers worldwide. On March 30, 2012, the union leadership announced that the SAG membership voted to merge with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) to create SAG-AFTRA.[2]

Background

According to SAG's Mission Statement, the Guild sought to: negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements that establish equitable levels of compensation, benefits, and working conditions for its performers; collect compensation for exploitation of recorded performances by its members, and provide protection against unauthorized use of those performances; and preserve and expand work opportunities for its members.[3]

The Guild was founded in 1933 in an effort to eliminate the

movie studios. Opposition to these contracts included that they did not include restrictions on work hours or minimum rest periods, and often had clauses that automatically renewed at the studios' discretion. These contracts were notorious for allowing the studios to dictate the public and private lives of the performers who signed them, and most did not have provisions to allow the performer to end the deal.[4]

The Screen Actors Guild was associated with the Associated Actors and Artistes of America (AAAA), which is the primary association of performer's unions in the United States. AAAA is affiliated with the AFL-CIO. SAG claimed exclusive jurisdiction over motion picture performances, and shared jurisdiction of radio, television, Internet, and other new media with its sister union AFTRA, with which it shared 44,000 dual members.[5] Internationally, the SAG was affiliated with the International Federation of Actors.

In addition to its main offices in

Beginning in 1995, SAG began to award the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which are considered an indicator of success at the Academy Awards. It continues through SAG-AFTRA.[citation needed]

History

Early years

In 1925, the Masquers Club was formed by actors discontented with the grueling work hours at the Hollywood studios.[6] This was one of the major concerns which led to the creation of the Screen Actors Guild in 1933. Another was that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which at that time arbitrated between the producers and actors on contract disputes, had a membership policy which was by invitation only.

A meeting in March 1933 of six actors (

.

Many high-profile actors refused to join SAG initially. This changed when the producers made an agreement amongst themselves not to bid competitively for talent. A pivotal meeting, at the home of

National Labor Relations Act
, the producers agreed to negotiate with SAG in 1937.

Actors known for their early support of SAG (besides the founders) include

.

Blacklist years

In October 1947, the members of a list of suspected

Hollywood Ten", refused to cooperate, and were charged with contempt of Congress and sentenced to prison. Several liberal members of SAG, led by Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Danny Kaye, and Gene Kelly, formed the Committee for the First Amendment
(CFA) and flew to Washington, DC, in late October 1947 to show support for the Hollywood Ten.

The Hollywood Professional Building housed SAG headquarters in the 1940s

The president of SAG – future

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), issued a press release
: "We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party or group which advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional methods."

None of those blacklisted were proven to advocate overthrowing the government – most simply had

omit from the screen
the name of any individual who had failed to clear his name before Congress. At a 1997 ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Blacklist, the Guild's president made this statement:

Only our sister union, Actors Equity Association, dared to stand behind its members and help them continue their creative lives in the theater. ... Unfortunately, there are no credits to restore, nor any other belated recognition that we can offer our members who were blacklisted. They could not work under assumed names or employ surrogates to front for them. An actor's work and his or her identity are inseparable. Screen Actors Guild's participation in tonight's event must stand as our testament to all those who suffered that, in the future, we will strongly support our members and work with them to assure their rights as defined and guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

— Richard Masur, Hollywood Remembers the Blacklist[8]

1970s to 2012

The Screen Actors Guild Ethnic Minorities Committee was co-founded in 1972 by actors

The Screen Actors Guild Women's Committee was founded in 1972.

In 1980, SAG and AFTRA held a strike over issues regarding profit sharing from home media and pay TV.

Marquez v. Screen Actors Guild

In 1998, Naomi Marquez filed suit against SAG and Lakeside Productions claiming they had breached their duty of fair representation. The claim was denied by the Supreme Court.

Merger with AFTRA

The membership of the Screen Actors Guild voted to merge with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on March 30, 2012.[2]

Composition

Membership (US records)[10]
     Total      "Active"      Total other (     "Honorable Withdrawals"      "Suspended")
Finances (US records; ×$1,000)[10]
     Assets      Liabilities      Receipts      Disbursements

According to SAG's Department of Labor records since 2006, when membership classifications were first reported, 30%, or almost a third, of the guild's total membership had consistently been considered "withdrawn", "suspended", or otherwise not categorized as "active" members. These members were ineligible to vote in the guild.[10] "Honorable withdrawals" constituted the largest portion of these, at 20% of the total membership, or 36,284 members before the merger in 2012. "Suspended" members were the second largest, at 10%, or 18,402 members.[1] This classification scheme is continued by SAG-AFTRA.[11]

Rules and procedure

Becoming a member

An actor was eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild by meeting the criteria in any of the following three categories: principal actor in a SAG production, background actor (originally the "three voucher rule"), and one-year member of an affiliated union (with a principal role). The basic categories were:

  • Principal actor: Any actor who works as a principal actor for a minimum of one day on a project (film, commercial, TV show, etc.) under a producer's agreement with SAG, and the actor has been paid at the appropriate SAG daily, three-day, or weekly rate was then considered "SAG-eligible". A SAG-eligible actor could work in other SAG or non-SAG productions up to 30 days, during which that actor was classified as a "Taft–Hartley". After the 30-day Taft–Hartley period has expired, the actor could not work on any further SAG productions until first joining SAG, by: paying the initiation fee with the first half-year minimum membership dues, and agreeing to abide by the Guild's rules and bylaws.
  • Background actor: For years, SAG had the "three voucher rule". After collecting three valid union vouchers for three separate days of work, a background actor could become SAG-eligible; however, employment must have been confirmed with payroll data, not vouchers. SAG productions required a minimum number of SAG members be employed as background actors before a producer was permitted to
    benefits and pay that the union actor would have received under that voucher. This was called a Taft–Hartley voucher. The SAG-Eligible background actor could continue working in non-union productions, but after obtaining 3 Taft–Hartley vouchers were given a 30-day window where they were allowed to work as many SAG jobs as they wish. After the 30-day window had expired the actor became a "Must Join" with SAG, meaning they could no longer work any SAG projects without formally joining the union. They could continue to work non-union jobs, however, until they officially became a SAG member.[12]
  • Member of an affiliated union: Members in good standing, for at least one year, of any of the other unions affiliated with the AAAA, and who had worked as a principal at least once in an area of the affiliated union's jurisdiction, and who had been paid for their work in that principal role, were eligible to join SAG.

Initiation fee and membership dues

Members joining the Los Angeles, New York, or Miami SAG locals were assessed an initial fee to join the Guild of $3,000. At the time of initiation, the first minimum semi-annual membership dues payment of $58 must have also been paid, bringing the total amount due upon initiation into the Guild to $3,058.[13] All other SAG locals still assessed initiation fees at the previous rate. Members from other locales who worked in Los Angeles, New York, or Miami after joining were charged the difference between the fee they paid their local and the higher rate in those markets.

Membership dues were calculated and due semi-annually, and were based upon the member's earnings from SAG productions. The minimum annual dues amount was $116, with an additional 1.85% of the performer's income up to $200,000. Income from $200,000 to $500,000 was assessed at 0.5%, and income from $500,000 to $1 million was assessed at 0.25%. For the calculation of dues, there was a total earnings cap at $1 million. Therefore, the maximum dues payable in any one calendar year by any single member was limited to $6,566.

SAG members who became delinquent in their dues without formally requesting a leave of absence from the Guild were assessed late penalties, and risked being ejected from the Guild and could be forced to pay the initiation fee again to regain their membership.

Global Rule One

The SAG Constitution and Bylaws stated that, "No member shall work as a performer or make an agreement to work as a performer for any producer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the Guild which is in full force and effect."[14] Every SAG performer agreed to abide by this, and all the other SAG rules, as a condition of membership into the Guild. This means that no SAG members could perform in non-union projects that were within SAG's jurisdiction, once they became members of the Guild. Since 2002, the Guild had pursued a policy of worldwide enforcement of Rule One, and renamed it Global Rule One.

Unique stage names

Like other guilds and associations that represent actors, SAG rules stipulated that no two members may have identical working names. Some actors use their middle initial in their stage name, or have stage names that differ from their legal name to comply with this rule. Notable examples include Michael Keaton, Michael J. Fox and Emma Stone, whose birth names "Michael Douglas", "Michael Fox" and "Emily Stone", respectively, were already in use.

Member benefits and privileges

SAG contracts with producers contained a variety of protections for Guild performers. Among these provisions were: minimum rates of pay, adequate working conditions, special protection and

auditions
and hiring.

Standardized pay and work conditions

All members of the Guild agreed to work only for producers who had signed contracts with SAG. These contracts spelled out in detail the responsibilities that producers must assume when hiring SAG performers. Specifically, the SAG basic contract specified: the number of hours performers may work, the frequency of

dressing rooms
, and adequate rest periods between performances. When applicable, and with due regard to the safety of the individuals, cast and crew, women and minorities were to be considered for doubling roles and for descript and non-descript stunts on a functional, non-discriminatory basis.

The Producers and the Pension and Health Plans

Performers who meet the eligibility criteria of working a certain number of days or attaining a certain threshold in income derived from SAG productions could join the Producers Pension and Health Plans offered by the Guild. The eligibility requirements varied by age of the performer and the desired plan chosen (there were two health plans). There were also Dental, Vision, and Life & Disability coverage included as part of the two plans.[15]

Residuals

The Guild secured

TV shows, and TV commercials
through clauses in the basic SAG agreements with producers.

Major strikes and boycotts

Early strikes

In July 1948, a strike was averted at the last minute as the SAG and

major producers agreed upon a new collective bargaining contract. The major points agreed upon included: full union shop for actors to continue, negotiations for films sent direct to TV, producers could not sue an actor for breach of contract if they strike (but the guild could only strike when the contract expires).[16]

In March 1960, SAG went on strike against

the seven major studios. This was the first industry-wide strike in the 50-year history of movie making. Earlier walkouts involved production for television. The Writers Guild of America had been on strike since January 31, 1960 with similar demands to the actors. The independents were not affected since they signed new contracts. The dispute rested on actors wanting to be paid 6% or 7% of the gross earnings of pictures made since 1948 and sold to television. Actors also wanted a pension and welfare fund.[17]

In December 1978, members of SAG went on strike for the fourth time in its 45-year history. It joined the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists in picket lines in Los Angeles and New York. The unions said that management's demand would cut actors' salaries. The argument was over filming commercials. Management agreed to up salaries from $218 to $250 per scene, but if the scene were not used at all, the actor would not be paid.[18]

Strike and Emmy Awards boycott of 1980

In July, SAG members walked out on strike, along with AFTRA, the union for television and radio artists, and the American Federation of Musicians. The union joined the television artists in calling for a successful boycott against that year's prime-time Emmy awards. Powers Boothe was the only one of the 52 nominated actors to attend: "This is either the most courageous moment of my career or the dumbest" he quipped during his acceptance speech. The guild ratified a new pact, for a 32.25% increase in minimum salaries and a 4.5% share of movies made for pay TV, and the strike ended on October 25.[19]

The commercials strike of 2000

The commercials strike of 2000 was extremely controversial. Some factions within SAG call it a success, asserting that it not only saved Pay-Per-Play (residuals) but it also increased cable residuals by 140% up from $1,014 to $2,460. Others suggested almost identical terms were available in negotiation without a strike. In the wake of the strike, SAG, and its sister union AFTRA, gathered evidence on over 1,500 non-members who had worked during the strike. SAG trial boards found Elizabeth Hurley and Tiger Woods guilty of performing in non-union commercials and each was fined $100,000.[20]

Beyond the major studios

SAG Principal members could not work on non-union productions. Union background actors were not fully covered nationwide and could work non-union outside the background zones. These background zones included the state of Hawaii, 4 zones in California, Las Vegas NV, and a 300-mile radius around New York City. Many

US Trade Representative
to investigate Canadian film subsidies for their violation of trade agreements Canada signed with the United States.

Financial core

Financial core, or Fi-Core, was a payment to a union to allow someone to work in a union environment without being a member of the union. The concept was defined in 1963 by Supreme Court case Labor Board v. General Motors[21] and clarified for the communications industry in 1988 via Communications Workers of America v. Beck.

Approximately 96% of normal union dues must have been paid to be a Financial Core member of the SAG,[21][22] and Financial Core members may not "represent themselves as Screen Actors Guild members."[23] Additionally, the Screen Actors Guild said "Fi-Core/FPNM are viewed as scabs ... by SAG members, directors, and writers—most of whom also belong to entertainment unions".[23] This statement had been met with skepticism by some.[21][24]

Former SAG President Charlton Heston was apparently a supporter of Fi-Core.[24][25][26][27]

National Women's Committee

Entertainment remains among the most gender unequal industries in the United States. The National Women's Committee operated within the National Statement of Purpose to promote equal employment opportunities for its female SAG members. It also encouraged positive images of women in film and television, in order to end sexual stereotypes and educate the industry about the representation of women, both in numbers and quality of representation.[28]

SAG Women's Committee had been dedicated to working towards strategic objectives adopted from the

Fourth World Conference on Women Beijing Platform of 1995. These objectives included supporting research into all aspects of women and the media so as to define areas needing attention and action. The SAG Hollywood Division Women's Committee also encouraged the media to refrain from presenting women as inferior beings and exploiting them as sexual objects and commodities.[28]

Woman's Committee timeline

  • 1972: The Screen Actors Guild Women's Committee is founded. Brigham Young University conducts a study that reveals 81.7% of television roles are male, versus 18.3% female.
  • 1974–1976: In conjunction with the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild compiles statistical surveys that explicitly document the disenfranchisement of their women members, often linking the data to a specific studio, network and in several cases individual television shows. These efforts are spearheaded by the two organizations' individual Women's Committees.
  • 1975: Kathleen Nolan becomes the Screen Actors Guild's first female president.[29]
  • 1979: A study reveals that between 1949 and 1979, 7,332 feature films were made and released by major distributors. Fourteen, a mere 0.19%, were directed by women.
  • October 10, 1979: Women and Minorities Rally. President Kathleen Nolan leads protest rally, with signs reading "Women and Minorities: Not Seen on the American Scene"..."Window Dressing on the Set"...and "TV: it's Time for a Facelift".[29]
  • 1981–1985: Leslie Hoffman, first stuntwoman elected to the Hollywood Screen Actors Board. She works towards hiring more women, minorities, seniors, and disabled performers as stuntpeople. She is blacklisted by the Screen Actors Guild Board and Stuntmen Groups.
  • 1984: SAG creates additional low-budget motion picture agreement, giving advantages to productions that hire more women, minorities, seniors, and disabled performers. SAG's New York branch forms Women's Voice-Over Committee to study why women get only 10–20% of voiceover work.[29]
  • 1986: Women's voice-over study by McCollum/Spielman and Company indicates "it makes absolutely no difference whether a male or female voice is used as a TV commercial voice-over", destroying long-held advertising industry assertion that male voices "sell better" and carry "more authority".[29]
  • 1989: A SAG report reveals that 71% of all roles in feature films and 64% of all roles in TV went to men. The report said the combined income of men more than doubled that of women ($644 million to $296 million).
  • 1990: At the SAG National Women's Conference, Meryl Streep keynotes first national event, emphasizing the decline in women's work opportunities, pay parity, and role models within the film industry.[29] She lashes out at the film industry for downplaying the importance of women both on screen and off.
  • 1996: Composition of female leading roles rises to 40%, but supporting roles for women decline to 33%.
  • 1997: SAG contracts for actresses exceed $472 million, while male SAG contracts receive more than $928 million.
  • 2004: Only 37% of all SAG television and film roles go to women.[30]
  • 2008:
    Oscar for Best Director of a Motion Picture, after being only the fourth woman in history to secure a nomination. Statistics show that only 9% of directors are female.[31]
  • 2009: Dr. Martha Lauzen of the Alliance for Women Film Journalists, conducts a study revealing that, of 2009's top 250 films at box offices, women comprised only 16% of the directors, producers, writers, and other top jobs. This represents a 3% decline from the 2001 study showing 19% female composition.
    Warner Brothers Pictures and Paramount Pictures did not release a single film directed by a woman.[33]
  • 2010: A study carried out by the Annenberg School for Communication and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media finds that male characters outnumber female characters by 2.42 to one in top-grossing American films.
  • 2010: Ex-Board Member Leslie Hoffman successfully fights to get Disability Health Plans for two stuntmen and a reimbursement for a disabled stuntwoman.

Historical leadership: 1933-2012

Presidents of SAG[34]
President Term
Ralph Morgan 1933
Eddie Cantor 1933-1935
Robert Montgomery 1935-1938
Ralph Morgan 1938-1940
Edward Arnold 1940-1942
James Cagney 1942-1944
George Murphy 1944-1946
Robert Montgomery 1946-1947
Ronald Reagan 1947-1952
Walter Pidgeon 1952-1957
Leon Ames 1957-1958
Howard Keel 1958-1959
Ronald Reagan 1959-1960
George Chandler 1960-1963
Dana Andrews 1963-1965
Charlton Heston 1965-1971
John Gavin 1971-1973
Dennis Weaver 1973-1975
Kathleen Nolan 1975-1979
William Schallert 1979-1981
Edward Asner
1981-1985
Patty Duke 1985-1988
Barry Gordon 1988-1995
Richard Masur 1995-1999
William Daniels 1999-2001
Melissa Gilbert 2001–2005
Alan Rosenberg 2005–2009
Ken Howard 2009–2012

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-113. Report submitted April 20, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "SAG, AFTRA Members Approve Merger to Form SAG-AFTRA" (Press release). SAG-AFTRA. March 30, 2012. Archived from the original on May 27, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  3. ^ "Mission Statement". SAG Official Website.
  4. ^ London Academy of Media, Film & TV, The Screen Actors Guild Archived 2013-07-26 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Yahoo News. Archived
    from the original on July 28, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  6. ^ "The Masquers Club official site". Archived from the original on January 14, 2006. Retrieved February 1, 2006.
  7. ^ HERBERT MITGANG. Dangerous Dossiers: exposing the secret war against America's greatest authors. New York City, NY: Donald I. Fine, Inc, pp 31-33
  8. ^ Krizman, Greg. "Hollywood Remembers the Blacklist" Archived 2007-02-03 at the Wayback Machine, Screen Actor, January 1998 (special edition)
  9. ^ "Actress Edith Diaz dies at 70". The Hollywood Reporter. February 8, 2010. Archived from the original on March 7, 2018. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-113. (Search)
  11. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-391. (Search)
  12. ^ Handel, Jonathan (January 24, 2012). "SAG-AFTRA Merger Means Tougher Admissions, Potentially Costlier Membership". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  13. ^ [1] Archived October 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Global Rule One". SAG-AFTRA. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  15. ^ "Health BenefitTabs-Eligibility". Archived from the original on December 19, 2006. Retrieved December 21, 2006.
  16. ^ Actors' Strike Threat Fades; Points Agreed. (July 8, 1948). Los Angeles Times, p. A1. Retrieved June 24, 2008
  17. ^ ACTORS START STRIKE AT 7 MAJOR STUDIOS: Guild Turns Down Proposal to Finish Work on 8 Movies. (March 7, 1960). Los Angeles Times, p. 1. Retrieved June 24, 2008
  18. ^ HARRY BERNSTEIN (December 20, 1978). Actors in Radio, TV Commercials Strike :Unions Say Ad Agencies Seek More Work for Less Money. Los Angeles Times, p. oc_a12. Retrieved June 24, 2008
  19. ^ Facts on File 1980 Yearbook, p805
  20. ^ McNary, Dave (October 29, 2001). "SAG Members Criticize Clooney". ABC News. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  21. ^ a b c "FiCore Information". Fi-Core.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  22. ^ "Fi-Core FAQ by Bizparentz.com". Archived from the original on June 16, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  23. ^ a b "Get The Facts About Financial Core". Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  24. ^ a b "Lani Minella on Fi-Core". Archived from the original on November 13, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  25. ^ "Dave Courvoisier on Fi-Core". April 4, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  26. ^ "Fi-Core.com - Resources". Archived from the original on March 8, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  27. ^ "Mark Pirro on Fi-Core". April 19, 2012. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  28. ^ a b "Women's Committee". Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
  29. ^ a b c d e "SAG History - SAG Timeline". Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  30. ^ "Professional Women: Vital Statistics" (PDF). Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO. April 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 24, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  31. ^ Taylor, Ella (October 21, 2009). "The New Generation of Female Filmmakers". Elle Magazine. Archived from the original on July 28, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  32. ^ Merin, Jennifer (February 28, 2009). "Women on Film - Dr. Martha Lauzen's 2009 Celluloid Ceiling Report". Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  33. ^ Dargis, Manohla (December 10, 2009). "Women in the Seats but Not Behind the Camera". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  34. ^ "SAG Presidents". SAG–AFTRA. Retrieved July 20, 2023.

Further reading

  • Baar, K. Kevyne. " 'What Has My Union Done For Me?' The Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and Actors' Equity Association Respond to McCarthy-Era Blacklisting." Film History (2008): 437–455. online

External links