Monday, May 02, 2011

What makes a strong Union ..

When I first read the press release from SAG announcing their latest step in joining forces with AFTRA, I said aloud something to the effect of "Its about time!". A few short internet searches after enlightened me to the history of times this merger has been wrestled with.

I was also drawn to the fierce opposition this merger from members of both unions. Comments to a Jonathan Handel THR article last Febraury or Nikki's recent post on the SAG Press Release told of doubt and mistrust from the various anonymous authors. While I may have shown my Newbie feathers through my ignorance to this topic's history, I'm surprised so many people would be ignorant to the fact that this merger would be a benefit to the membership of both unions. The reason has been pointed out innumerable times by this Guild's Biz Rep:

When the blood stops flowing and the dust settles, [...] it's about what leverage you have to get what you want.

Its a simple matter of scale .. more members means a louder collective voice. While the dissenting voices speak about how little SAG has done for them or how the unions are too different to be able to mesh, I find it impossible to overlook the strength of the collective the merged memberships will have.

People love to tell me about the lack of strength a union has. The reality is all that anti-union talk is nothing more than the Kool-Aid that's been fed to the public for ages. A union focuses the leverage given to a workforce by merit of their abilities and skill. The larger the workforce, the stronger the union.

Best wishes to the panel of SAG and AFTRA board members who will be working to unite the two guilds. Its apparent that educating their members on the power of collective action and how more members means more strength should be on the agenda for their discussions as well.


Anonymous said...

It's not just the scale that makes it a good move, it also takes away the producer's ability to play one union off against the other.

This is why people in VFX who insist that they need a union totally separate from TAG are potentially setting themselves up for regret down the road. If there were a separate VFX union, then producers who knew they were going to end up being unionized could cherry pick the best deal for them.

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