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Affiliate in the Spotlight: SAG-AFTRA

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020
SF-NC SAG-AFTRA Broadcast Members at KRON 5

Name of Union: Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), San Francisco – Northern California Local

Mission:  From Fresno to the Oregon border, our local works to advance, foster, promote and benefit all local SAG-AFTRA performer and broadcast members; secure and protect their rights; and assist in securing equitable compensation and safe working conditions.

Current Leadership of Union: Kathryn Howell serves as president of the SAG-AFTRA San Francisco-Northern California Local. Howell holds a BFA in theatre and has gained numerous credits in theater, film and television throughout her professional career.

She first became involved in union service through joining the Actors’ Equity Association. In the early 2000s, she began serving on committees for the region’s SAG branch and was elected its president in 2006, a leadership role she has continued, following the merger of SAG and AFTRA in 2012 and formation of the SAG-AFTRA San Francisco-Northern California Local.

In addition to her work on local committees, Howell has also served on the SAG legacy and SAG-AFTRA National Boards as well as the National TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee. 

Number of Members: 4,500.

Members Work As: Actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voice-over artists and other media professionals.

Industries Represented: Broadcast, film, television, online media, sound recordings, new media, streaming.

History:  The Screen Actors Guild formed in 1933 during the heyday of the Hollywood studio system, when six actors came together to discuss forming a self-governing organization of film actors. One of the new organization’s first actions was protesting provisions in the U.S. government’s proposed code of fair competition for motion pictures that were objectionable to actors, including salary limitations, licensing of agents by producers and giving studios a right of first refusal when a contract ended, an act that severely limited an actor’s bargaining power.

In 1937, the American Federation of Radio Artists (AFRA) formed and would eventually become the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or “AFTRA,” after the rise of television in the 1950s. San Francisco was designated as one of the first six locals in the country, with corresponding locations in Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Chicago and Cincinnati. That same year, SAG negotiated its first contract with 13 producers signing on; the following year, AFRA signed its first national contract.

By 1941, both unions began to move toward more actively expanding the rights of their members. That same year, AFRA engaged in its first strike against Cincinnati-based radio station WKRC. Over a decade later, SAG would hold its first strike against television commercial companies from 1952 through the following year.

In 1959, SAG’s governing body added National Board seats for local representation from branches around the country. The first group to participate in national affairs included members from New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco.

During this time, a major shift for both unions was a stronger focus on battling discrimination, both in front of and behind the camera. SAG spent the remainder of the century dealing with the expansion of broadcast productions and the growth of new technologies that would continually change the industry well into the present day.

Talk of merging the various performer unions, including SAG and AFTRA (as it was known then), began as early as the late 1930s, but the eventually a combined SAG-AFTRA wouldn’t officially be recognized until 2012, AFTRA’s 75th anniversary year. The merger was overwhelmingly approved by the membership of each legacy union, and SAG President Ken Howard and AFTRA President Roberta Reardon became the first SAG-AFTRA co-presidents.

The national organization continues to advocate for members in the workplace, offering Diversity in Casting incentives for filmmakers and landmark industry standards and protocols for the use of intimacy coordinators. The union is also is actively ahead of the rapid changes in media distribution.

Current Campaigns/Community EffortsOn a local level, the SAG-AFTRA SF-NorCal Local now offers a Regional Commercial Code and a Corporate/Educational waiver with reduced rates and usage for projects shooting within our jurisdiction.

In addition, SF-NorCal Local business representatives serve the daily needs of members while identifying opportunities for outreach and organization. They guide local filmmakers through the process of hiring SAG-AFTRA members and work in concert with film commission offices to encourage productions to take advantage of filming incentives within the region, city and state of California.

This past year, local SAG-AFTRA broadcast members led campaign efforts to put pressure on Entercom Communications, the owner of local all-news station KCBS Radio 740AM /106.9FM and music station Alice 97.3 during negotiations of more than a dozen union contracts covering SAG-AFTRA members around the country. The members coordinated T-shirt days, held a day of action on Twitter and undertook other grassroots efforts from broadcast members and other unions on a national scale. The campaign, supported by the San Francisco Labor Council, led to SAG-AFTRA members winning fair contracts with their employer and led the way for other coordinated campaigns across the country.  

Another initiative, The Bay Area Safety Summit, is a project of local broadcast unions SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, IBEW, NABET, local television and radio news stations, and local police departments. It is aimed at promoting the safety, security and well-being of field news crews working in the Bay Area. With news crews covering difficult stories in our community and facing security issues in the field such as robberies and unruly crowds, as well as major weather events such as wildfires and floods, this group meets biannually to discuss and share best practices, protocols and efforts to improve safety.

Here’s a link to a story and pic that features members from all four television stations at a recent safety summit: https://www.sagaftra.org/standing-safety

Women in Broadcast

The Women in Broadcast initiative is an effort to forge connections and solidarity among women working in broadcast in the Bay Area. SAG-AFTRA’s local membership includes women working as anchors, reporters, editors, disc jockeys, sports announcers, producers and board operators, the focus of the initiative has been to promote women’s leadership, collectivize challenges and opportunities for women in our rapidly changing broadcast industries and to collaborate across workplaces.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebook

California Labor Federation Stands with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Demanding Uber, Instacart and Other Gig Companies Reclassify Workers as Employees

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
April 1, 2020 
California Labor Federation 
Contact: Steve Smith 510-326-4644 
ssmith@calaborfed.org 

California Labor Federation Stands with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Demanding Uber, Instacart and Other Gig Companies Reclassify Workers as Employees 

Warren tells CEOs, “You have a responsibility to protect [workers’] health and the public’s health” during the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Oakland, CA — Today the California Labor Federation commended Sen. Elizabeth Warren for joining with workers in demanding Uber, Instacart, Doordash and Grubhub “provide front line delivery workers with the basic rights and protections they would be guaranteed if you classified them as employees rather than independent contractors, including paid sick leave, minimum wages, and essential health and safety precautions.”  She went on to write, “because these workers perform essential delivery work and are critical to serving customers who cannot leave home during the pandemic, you have a responsibility to protect their health and the public’s health.”

“Senator Warren’s demand underscores the staggering economic and human cost of leaving countless drivers with no access to basic worker protections or a social safety net,” said Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation. “Billion-dollar corporations like Uber and Lyft have a moral responsibility to dissolve the $110 million political war chest they’ve amassed to obliterate worker protections, and instead put their millions into making sure working people can get the support they need to weather this crisis.”

In Warren’s letter to company CEOs, reported in Vice today, she warns: “Your company’s misclassification of your workers as independent contractors rather than employees creates inherent risk for workers, who are denied access to unemployment insurance and workers compensation, a minimum wage and overtime, health care benefits, the right to be represented by a union, and the legal protections of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.” She continued, “The impact your misclassification has on workers, and the precarious circumstances it puts them in, is amplified by this pandemic.”

Warren went on to cite California’s AB 5 as a crucial protection for workers “exploited by employer misclassification.” 

Warren’s letter comes after labor unions and gig workers have clearly demanded essential worker rights and protections as workers have become first responders to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Monday’s Instacart and Amazon walkouts the latest public action.  To support these workers, The California Labor Federation demands: 

  • Gig companies comply with the law. Courts, the legislature and the governor have made it clear that gig company drivers and shoppers are employees. Yet, these billion-dollar companies continue to flout the law, denying basic protections including paid sick days, a minimum wage and adequate safety equipment to gig workers. They need to follow the law or face the consequences of breaking it. Further, these companies must immediately drop their harmful ballot measures that seeks to deny basic protections to their own workers and lower standards for all workers. 
  • Gig companies immediately establish a $100 million dollar relief fund to provide drivers in need with resources to help them pay rent, buy groceries and keep the lights on in their homes. Netflix and other firms have contributed hundreds of millions to relief funds yet Uber, Lyft and other gig companies refuse to provide any relief even to their own drivers. The companies have that much sitting in a PAC now. They must drain that account to provide direct relief to drivers.
  • Uber, Lyft and other gig companies stop denying drivers unemployment insurance claims and immediately start contributing to the state’s severely stressed UI fund that’s been overwhelmed with 1.5 million new claims. The gig companies haven’t contributed a dime to UI for drivers and shoppers, even though they are required to do so by law, putting the fund’s solvency for all workers at grave risk.

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Government Must Act to Stop Spread of Economic and Financial Consequences of Coronavirus

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Damon A. Silvers March 10, 202

The stock market fell 7% at the open Monday morning. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s a catastrophic collapse—a financial crisis type number. Typically, the market might gain or lose in a whole year the value that was lost by the time the sound of the opening bell faded.

The collapse appears to be the result of a combination of the spread of coronavirus and falling oil prices—two events that are themselves connected. But it needs to be interpreted as an alarm bell, because we are dealing with the threat of two deadly kinds of contagions—one biological and the other economic and financial—both of which pose serious but manageable threats to the well-being of working people.

We have heard a lot about biological contagion and how to stop the spread of coronavirus in our workplaces and our communities. You can get up-to-date information on workplace safety and coronavirus at www.aflcio.org/covid-19 and at the websites of our affiliated unions. But what about financial and economic contagion? This is something elected leaders, economic policymakers and financial regulators must take action to stop.

How does it work? Coronavirus is a shock to the global economy. It stops economic activity of all kinds—shutting down factories, canceling meetings, sending cruise ships into quarantine. The only way to prevent that is to stop the spread of the virus (see above). The consequence of economic activity slowing down or stopping is that businesses lose revenue, and generally with loss of revenue comes loss of profits.

People who trade on the stock market usually price stocks by making projections about the future profits of the companies whose stocks trade on the public markets. The stock market reacts instantaneously to changing expectations about what may happen in the economy and to specific businesses. The stock market itself doesn’t create or destroy jobs, but it does contribute to the overall financial health of companies and of people. When stock prices fall rapidly, they can create their own kind of contagion—exposing fragile financing structures for both companies and people. That can in turn lead to retreat—companies pulling back on investments or, in the worst case, going bankrupt.

So the stock market can create contagion all by itself. But the much more serious kind of contagion has to do with corporate debt. We have had low interest rates for years, and businesses around the world have gone on a borrowing spree. This spree has been one of the causes of relatively healthy economic growth in the last few years, but it has also led to businesses carrying a lot of debt relative to their earnings and growth. 

Here is where the danger gets very real, because, as we all know, if you borrow money, you have to make payments on that debt. What if businesses that have borrowed a lot of money suddenly don’t have anywhere near the revenue they expected to have? This is what empty planes and blocked supply chains mean.  

If no one does anything and the coronavirus leads to months of revenue shortfalls in overleveraged companies, there is a real risk of pullbacks in investments by those companies or, worse, bankruptcy. Falling stock markets and debt defaults can lead to weak business balance sheets and to weak financial institutions. That is what financial contagion means. We saw that in 2008 when first mortgage intermediaries failed, then hedge funds and stock brokerages, and then major banks.  

Even more seriously, once investment pullbacks, bankruptcies and layoffs start, that leads, like a spreading virus, to more losses of revenue to other businesses—in other words, economic contagion. Economic contagion, once it starts, is even harder to stop than financial contagion. Economic contagion means recession, unemployment, falling wages. What makes this crisis different is that it starts with a kind of layoff—shutdown of economic activity and quarantines to stop the spread of disease. 

We need government to act to stop financial and economic contagion until the worst of the coronavirus passes and, most importantly, until everyone has a better sense of the exact nature of the threat—that is, until the uncertainty diminishes. Working people must demand that government act, or we and our families will pay the price for others’ lack of action, as we so often have in the past.

What should government do? First, it should directly address the source of economic contraction by dealing effectively with the coronavirus itself and making sure people who are sick or need to be quarantined are able to do what they need to do for themselves and for society without being impoverished. This means emergency paid sick leave for all who need it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have proposed comprehensive emergency paid sick leave for all workers; this is an urgent medical and economic necessity. We need to recognize that until the coronavirus is contained, it will be very challenging to contain the economic consequences of the virus.

Second, government should deliver financial support credit on favorable terms to sectors of the global economy that are threatened by the coronavirus and vulnerable due to overleverage. The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee took a first step in that direction last week by lowering short-term rates by 0.5 percentage point, but that is unlikely to be enough. Central banks need to work with major financial institutions to target cheap credit to vulnerable businesses—airlines, hotels, manufacturers paralyzed by broken supply chains and the like. It is time to discard the old neoliberal idea that we should let banks lend to whomever they want when we appropriately subsidize them with cheap public assets.

Third, government should provide support to the economy as a whole. Congress cannot leave this job to the Federal Reserve. We need to look at bigger emergency appropriations to support our weakened public health infrastructure, particularly hospitals; if the Chinese experience is any indication, we are going to face serious strains to the system as the coronavirus spreads. We need to look at macroeconomic stimulus—public spending to help the economy. This would best be done in the form of investment, such as finally funding infrastructure. But we also need immediate spending; that is why universal paid sick days would be such a good idea, as would be steps to improve the effectiveness of our social safety net—Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—and make it easier for everyone to get the health care they need right now.

What we don’t need is the standard right-wing response to any and all problems—tax cuts for the rich. Even more than in a normal downturn, that would do harm, diverting desperately needed public resources to those who don’t need them at all.

Most of all, we need leadership and coordination among federal, state and local governments, between the U.S. government and the Fed and governments and central banks around the world, and with multinational bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Health Organization. This is critical, because neither the coronavirus nor the world financial system respects borders, and because people will succumb to fear in the absence of credible leadership.  

If Monday morning tells us anything, it’s that we need that leadership now, because once fear becomes contagious, it may be the hardest thing to stop.

Annual Statewide Hearing on Healthcare

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Title: Annual Statewide Hearing on Healthcare
Location: State Building ~ 455 Golden Gate Ave, SF
Link out: Click here
Start Time: 15:00
Date: 2020-03-05

Rally & Hearing for Better Staffing at SF General

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Title: Rally & Hearing for Better Staffing at SF General
Location: City Hall Steps
Start Time: 12:00
Date: 2020-03-05

COPE Banquet

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Title: COPE Banquet
Location: Marriott Marquis ~ 780 Mission Street, SF
Link out: Click here
Start Time: 17:00
Date: 2020-04-30

GOTV for March 3rd Primary

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Title: GOTV for March 3rd Primary
Location: SEIU 1021 ~ 350 Rhode Island Street, SF
Description: Join Labor on Saturday for a final GOTV push for the March 3rd Primary to elect our labor-endorsed DCCC candidates and gather signatures for Schools & Communities First.

WHAT: GOTV for March 3rd Primary
WHEN: Saturday, February 29th from 10 AM to 2 PM
WHERE: SEIU 1021 ~ 350 Rhode Island, SF

Feel free to contact Kim Tavaglione for more information or with any questions at kim@sflaborcouncil.org or (415) 740-4461.
Start Time: 10:00
Date: 2020-02-29
End Time: 14:00

Black History Month Profiles: Rev. George W. Lee

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Kenneth Quinnell February 13, 2020

Rev. George W. Lee
Wikimedia Commons

For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights, with a particular focus on voting rights. Without access to the ballot box and an assurance that everyone’s vote counts, civil and labor rights are among the first to be taken away from working people. Today, we’re looking at the Rev. George W. Lee.

In 1955, the murder of Emmett Till shocked the United States and was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. But Till wasn’t the only prominent murder of an African American in Mississippi that year and the murder of the Rev. George W. Lee not only informed the reaction to Till’s murder, but Lee’s murder was part of the pathway to the passage of the Voting Rights Act a decade later.

Lee lived in Humphreys County, which was only one county away from where Till was murdered later in the year. Before becoming an activist, Lee grew up in Edwards, Mississippi. His mother was an illiterate plantation woman who died when Lee was young. While living with his aunt, Lee successfully graduated high school, which was rare for Southern black men. He later worked in New Orleans before becoming a preacher in Belzoni, Mississippi, in the state’s delta area.

Poverty was high in Belzoni, and Lee worked hard to improve himself. He served as pastor at four different churches, opened a grocery store and his wife, Rosebud, ran a printing business out of the house. Lee was the first black person in Humphreys County to register to vote in recent memory. He and a friend Gus Courts, then co-founded a local branch of the NAACP. By 1955, Lee and Courts had registered nearly all of the county’s 90 eligible black voters. 

But local whites, led by the notorious Citizens Councils were purging black people from the voting rolls through economic pressure, intimidation and violence. Many of Belzoni’s black citizens were pressured into dropping themselves from the voting rolls, but Lee and Courts stood firm. Lee was a vice president in the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. The organization not only focused on improving the skills of black people in the state, but they also pursued voting rights and led a successful boycott of gas stations that discriminated against black people.

Before long, Lee had developed into a top-notch public speaker who rallied black voters with words like: “Pray not for your mom and pop. They’ve gone to heaven. Pray you can make it through this hell.” The racists of Belzoni reacted just as strongly. Less than a month after Lee gave spoke those words at the Regional Council of Negro Leadership convention, he was murdered. Just before midnight on May 7, 1955, an assailant fired three shotgun blasts into Lee’s car and he died from the shots before he could be treated at the local hospital.

At the time Medgar Evers was a field secretary for the NAACP, and he was assigned to investigate the Lee murder. The work Evers did in this case was a springboard for his later civil rights activism. Evers found that Lee had received a threatening note to drop his voter registration three days before the murder. The autopsy found that lead pellets consistent with buckshot killed Lee, but the local sheriff claimed that the death was a traffic accident and that the lead pellets were “dental fillings” knocked loose during the car crash that ensued from the assault.

Much like Emmett Till later that year, Lee’s funeral was a media event for black newspapers. Rosebud Lee decided to hold an open-coffin ceremony. Black newspapers shared the photo of Lee’s mutilated corpse. When Till was lynched, his photo in black newspapers was an important part of spurring action in the civil rights movement. Lee’s funeral was a precursor to that type of communication to the public during the civil rights movement. Civil rights activists continued searching for evidence to pinpoint Lee’s killers, but the FBI investigation ran out of steam because potential witnesses were afraid to talk. No one was ever charged with Lee’s murder. Later, Lee’s partner Gus Courts was also shot, although he survived the assault.

The efforts of Lee (and Court) were important in showing how to register black voters in the South in the face of violent opposition. Rosebud’s decision to reveal the violence against her husband to the world would set the table for the successes of the civil rights and voting rights movements.

March on the School Board

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Title: March on the School Board
Location: 555 Franklin Street
Description: The SF School District is threatening drastic cuts. Join United Educators SF for a rally on February 25th. Let’s raise our voices and say Educators need more, not less!
Our schools can’t survive $26 million in cuts. Our students deserve more, our families deserve more, and we deserve more: more counselors, more social workers, more crisis training, more nurses, more fully staffed wellness centers. Join UESF on February 25th from 4-7 pm to tell the Board of Education and District leadership that we want more for our kids, not less.
Schedule for 2/25 Rally
4 pm – Press Conference
4:30-5:30 pm – Rally
5:30 pm – March into board meeting

Start Time: 16:00
Date: 2020-02-25

Union Night at the Theater: Sting Stars in The Last Ship

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Title: Union Night at the Theater: Sting Stars in The Last Ship
Location: Golden Gate Theater
Link out: Click here
Description: Join the SF Labor Council and Labor 411 at a special Union Night performance of The Last Ship, a musical about workers, starring Sting as shipyard foreman Jackie White. Featuring original music and lyrics by Sting as well as a few of his best-loved songs—“Island of Souls,” “All This Time,” and “When We Dance.”

The Last Ship tells the story of Gideon, a prodigal son returning home after 17 years at sea to find that the local shipyard his town was built around is closing and Meg, the love he left behind, has moved on. Tensions flare and picket lines are drawn as foreman Jackie White (played by Sting) rallies the workers to take over the shipyard and build one last ship in the face of the gathering storm.

Tickets are $75 and include access to our special Union Night reception.
We have a limited number of mezzanine level tickets. Normally priced at $139, these special Union Night tickets are available for $75 each. Buy tickets here: http://bit.ly/union-night-sf

The Union Night pre-show reception will take place in the Mezzanine Lounge at the Golden Gate Theatre starting at 6 pm. The performance begins at 8 pm.

For more information, please contact Evan Henerson at (818) 884-8966 x1102 or evan@sendersgroup.com or Cherri Senders at (818) 884-8966 x1104 or cherri@sendersgroup.com
Start Time: 18:00
Date: 2020-03-06

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