AFTRA President Defends Decision to Go Coach

We hear a lot about the Screen Actors Guild and its long list of famous presidents. So it’s refreshing to get the view from the other side of the performers union equation in the form of a Backstage Magazine interview with AFTRA chief Roberta Reardon (pictured).

Beginning this Friday, January 7th, Reardon and current SAG President Ken Howard will be holding open forums with members to discuss the possibility of the two unions merging. Also on tap this month is the ratification of new contracts for network primetime and TV-theatrical, deals which necessitated the contentious removal of a long-held perk: first-class air travel to and from a show locations.

Reardon wisely points out that the expectation of front cabin treatment is a vestige of a bygone era.

“These [new contract] terms are pretty similar, almost identical to what has been in the commercial contract since, I think, 2000. I know that it feels like a step backwards for some performers, but I have to say that in many parts of the business world and, frankly, many parts of the labor world, flying first-class is a very rare opportunity…

If you’re an actor living in Hollywood and the choice is to fly you to New Mexico or to hire somebody locally, being able to have to only pay coach to fly you to New Mexico is going to figure into your being hired.”

Given that most working actors can barely afford to fly cargo, anyone still grousing about this at Wilshire & Curson should expect zero sympathy.