AFTRA, DGA, SAG, WGAE, and WGAW Unite
in Support of Employee Free Choice Act,
Urge Senate to Pass Labor Reform Legislation
LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK (June 19, 2007) – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Directors Guild of America (DGA), and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) have united in their collective support of the Employee Free Choice Act (S.1041), a “card-check” bill that would improve the process for workers to form and join a union.
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) and 46 co-sponsors recently introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate. Aimed at reducing strong-arm tactics by employers, the bill would give workers – including writers, actors, directors, broadcasters, recording artists, and other industry performers – the freedom to choose whether to join a union without employer interference and enable them to bargain for improved wages, benefits, and working conditions.
The WGAW, WGAE, SAG, DGA, and AFTRA today issued a joint statement in support of the EFCA legislation:
“Continuing our shared commitment to uphold the right of all employees to form and join a union, the guilds and unions strongly support the Employee Free Choice Act that would allow workers a chance to collectively negotiate with their employers for a better livelihood, positively impacting American workers, including creative artists, and their families. This legislation would ensure that workers are allowed a free choice and a fair chance to form a union by leveling the playing field with employers. An affirmative Senate vote will send a strong signal that organized labor is winning the fight on union rights.”
“By establishing stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form or join a union, providing mediation and arbitration during negotiations and internal disputes, and allowing employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation, the Employee Free Choice Act helps mend America’s dysfunctional bargaining system by supplying workers with necessary tools to make their own voices heard, without the obstacles of corporate interference.”
Perhaps the most important U.S. labor law reform to emerge in the last 70 years, the House of Representatives passed the Employee Free Choice Act on March 1 by a margin of 241-185. With a scheduled vote on the House-passed bill, the Senate will likely bypass a committee mark-up – although President Bush has previously threatened to veto the measure when the House passed it in March.
The bill would allow for union certification of employees as a bargaining unit through a card-check procedure in which organizers present their employers with authorization cards from a majority of workers – if a majority of workers sign up, a union will be formed. The measure would also levy stronger penalties against employers attempting to block union organizing, as well as require binding arbitration between new unions and management if both parties cannot reach an agreement on a first contract – a provision many see as necessary as many employers have no incentive to bargain in good faith with a newly unionized workforce without a deadline.
Under current law, employers have the option of rejecting the card check and calling for a National Labor Relations Board Election, which often slows down the process by a year or more, allowing employers to harass and threaten employees for union activity. S.1041 would effectively make these so-called “secret ballot” elections obsolete, as many view the current election process skewed in favor of employers attempting to prevent unionization.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. More than 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists are moving forward together through AFTRA to protect and improve our jobs, lives, and communities. AFTRA members embrace change in society—from new culture to new technology—and incorporate change in our work and craft. AFTRA celebrates and thrives on the diversity of our members and the work we do. AFTRA opens a whole new world of opportunities for success for professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet, and other digital media. Visit AFTRA at www.aftra.com.
The Directors Guild of America was founded in 1936 to protect the economic and creative rights of directors. Over the years its membership has expanded to include the directorial team – Unit Production Managers, Assistant Directors, Technical Coordinators, Associate Directors, Stage Managers and Production Associates. Today, through the collective voice of close to 13,500 members, the Guild seeks to protect the rights of directorial teams, to contend for their creative freedom and strengthen their ability to develop meaningful and lifelong careers in film, tape and digital media.
Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 actors who work in motion pictures, television, commercials, industrials, video games, Internet and all new media formats. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, you can visit SAG online at www.sag.org.
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) represent writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable, and new media industries in both entertainment and news. For more information about the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org; for more information about the WGAE, please visit www.wgaeast.org.