East Coast SAG brass: 'We were lied to'

Claim they were misled about nature of Monday's rally

East Coast members of SAG's national leadership board are fuming over what they say were lies told by union president Alan Rosenberg and national executive director Doug Allen about the nature of Monday's rally.

The rally at guild headquarters -- which drew hundreds of SAG and WGA members as well as dual cardholders who also are members of AFTRA -- included AFTRA bashing and calls for AFTRA members to vote down the recently brokered primetime/TV contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

A member of SAG's national executive committee who attended a meeting Friday said Allen and Rosenberg had said that the rally would be pro-SAG and nothing more.

"We were told this would be a pro rally for the (SAG) negotiating team," the member said. "Anything that was remotely anti-AFTRA, we were told by Alan Rosenberg and the national executive director, wouldn't happen. We were lied to by both of them."

A source close to negotiations said the East Coast contingency's allegations are inaccurate.

Friday's meeting took place while SAG was awaiting AFTRA's response to a request to delay its ratification vote, the source said, adding that it was made "very clear" that the rally was to support the negotiations. It also was discussed that if AFTRA refused to delay, that could change the tone of the rally.

NEC members voted 13-11 in favor of going forward with an educational campaign for members about the downfalls of the AFTRA contract that would cost at least $75,000 of guild funds, which already had been set aside for negotiations.

SAG said the vote -- which was split between Hollywood NEC members, who voted in favor, and East Coast and regional members, who opposed -- was about the AFTRA campaign and not about the budget for it, as previously reported.

In the meantime, some SAG members are reaching out to Rosenberg about the anti-AFTRA action. Todd Hissong, president of SAG's Chicago branch, said SAG and AFTRA members in his city have sent Rosenberg and others an "advisory motion" asking them to call off the campaign.

"We are not telling anybody how to vote on the AFTRA contract," he said. "(The campaign) is an unconscionable waste of our resources and our time. And Chicago's rank and file does not support it."

AFTRA and the AMPTP reached their deal May 28, and AFTRA's national board voted Friday to send the new deal to its members for ratification. That vote is expected before July 7.

SAG and AFTRA have Los Angeles membership meetings planned this week. SAG will hold a town hall meeting tonight; AFTRA is set to meet Thursday night.

Lauren Horwitch is news editor of Back Stage West.