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The Campaign Trail

September 2nd, 2009

Tom HanksIn the States, campaigning for president is a big affair whether it be for the Whitehouse or the unions.

All over the Hollywood press at the moment is the campaign for the presidency of the major Hollywood union, SAG, repping actors.  SAG threatened a strike around the same time as last year’s 100 day writer’s strike,  studios prepared for it but it didn’t quite happen.  The writer’s strike caused chaos, lay-offs and no Letterman, so the power of the unions is to be reckoned with.

The SAG campaign is a two horse race, veteran actor Ken Howard v Anne-Marie Johnson.   Howard leads the moderate, Unite For Strength, campaign which wants to unite SAG with the smaller actor’s union AFTRA, both of which have had their problems recently.  Howard has heavyweight backing in the form of videos from top Wooderati like Tom Hanks and William H Macy.

Johnson, the more hard-line candidate,  also favours a merger but only with those actors who are already members of both unions as a quarter of AFTRA members aren’t actors but include recording artists and DJ’s.  Strange as it may seem, two unions for the same trade, both negotiating their own contracts with producers.  And when earlier this year, SAG went a bit shaky and laid-off 35 staff as a cost-cutting measure, some members walked over to join AFTRA.  SAG’s finance’s are still written in red as their dues come from actor’s and when they’re not working, SAG loses money.

It’s thought Howard and his top line supporters will win-out with the full merger proposal as in the event of a strike studios won’t be able to get members of the other union to work instead.  AFTRA isn’t sure about the merger because of SAG’s internal bickerings and the ultimate question will always be, who controls what.

Something they’ll have to look inside themselves to answer.

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