The SAG/AFTRA Strike: A View From the Trenches

It seems the unions have under estimated the advertising industry’s ability to control the “spin” of the strike. I’m writing to rebut many statements I’ve read over the past few months in Adweek and to clear up some general misperceptions about why we are still on strike.

Let’s start with the misperception that we keep refusing generous offers. In the article “Talks Flop: Actors Strike Goes On” [Adweek, Oct. 2], Ira Shepard, counsel for the Joint Policy Committee, said the ad industry made a grand gesture in retracting its proposal for flat-fee payment for network spots. His grand gesture was to give us something we already had. To keep paying us our 1997 rates. Not so grand, I think.

Another misperception is that we are solely responsible for ending this strike. In “Reality Check” [Art & Commerce, Sept. 4], an independent producer begged us to stop the strike because of all the suppliers who are being hurt. I am sorry this is affecting them as well. But for the first five months of this strike, there was no one to even negotiate with.

The advertisers were saying, “Take it or leave it, we gave you our final global offer last April.” I calculated their global offer, and for me, it was almost a 40 percent pay cut.

This strike isn’t about those earning less than $5,000, nor is it about the celebrities. It’s about the average working actor who makes a full-time living doing this. That would no longer be me if I accept their offer.

I work regularly. Does the ad industry want me to get a second full-time job? I wouldn’t be available for last-minute auditions or the “We need you sometime Friday, not sure when but we’ll let you know sometime Thursday” jobs. Do they really want to shrink their talent pool?

The misperception that steams me most is this comment from “Reality Check”: “$500 for an eight-hour day is beyond most of America’s wildest dreams,” said T. Michael Cordner, a freelance commercial production manager. It’s not an eight-hour job! Imagine going on three to five job interviews every day, being hired less than 5 percent of the time and getting fired after only one day on each job? That’s how it works—even for successful actors. We can’t do our one day of work unless we are available every day.

I am sorry for all the “refugees of the war.” I would love for this to end tomorrow. But it cannot until a fair offer has been agreed to. If your job was threatened, you would most likely do the same.

Kathy Nagler


Los Angeles