Unions Jurisdiction Battle Continues as SAG-AFTRA Files Formal Complaint Against Actors' Equity, Calls for Mediation | Playbill

Industry News Unions Jurisdiction Battle Continues as SAG-AFTRA Files Formal Complaint Against Actors' Equity, Calls for Mediation Both unions are claiming ownership of streaming theatrical productions.
Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA_HR

The jurisdiction battle between Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA continues over who has representational rights over streaming theatrical productions. On October 17, SAG-AFTRA requested support from the AFL-CIO’s Department of Professional Employees in securing mediation following a formal complaint submitted to the Associated Actors and Artistes of America (4As).

As per a ruling in 2014 between the 4As and AFL-CIO, SAG-AFTRA requested the mediation from 4As first, and then invited the DPE to assist with the matter.

“The dispute pertains to AEA's infringement of SAG-AFTRA's long-held, exclusive jurisdiction over recorded media and live broadcast media, and, since its inception, over streamed and digitally transmitted media as well, including in live theater productions,” reads the letter, penned by President Gabrielle Carteris and National Executive Director David P. White. Click here to read both the letter sent to AFL-CIO and the complaint submitted to the 4As.

As previously reported, SAG-AFTRA tried to present AEA with a draft waiver that allows Equity to handle streaming theatrical projects through mid-2021—provided that AEA acknowledges SAG-AFTRA's general control in the domain of filmed media, streaming or otherwise. So far, AEA has declined to use the waiver.

Equity maintains that SAG-AFTRA’s governance in the live streaming theatricals arena results in lower income and health insurance coverage deficits. In addition, SAG-AFTRA does not represent stage managers, which are part of Equity for in-person productions, and has allegedly resulted in the laborers either being fired or told they can work as independent contractors.

“It didn’t have to be this way,” wrote President and Executive Director Kate Shindle and Mary McColl to AEA members in an email October 16. “We spent months privately discussing with SAG-AFTRA how union/employer relationships work and asked them to not interfere with our employers. Instead, they insisted on a so-called ‘waiver’ that is unusable, and they continued undercutting terms and conditions by signing Equity employers to lesser paying SAG-AFTRA contracts.”

The two unions have launched campaigns to drum up support in their claims, dividing actors along the medium lines—though many are in fact represented by both. Equity sent a link to sign a letter of solidarity in its October 16 email and tweeting a council resolution summary October 17, SAG-AFTRA is using #WeMakeStreaming and #PlayFairAEA on social media.

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