Welcome to www.comprofessor.com a.k.a. Lynch Coaching: Media and Communication Prof's News and Views from Art Lynch. This blog exists to stimulate critical thinking, provide information on communication and media, stimulate discussion and share ideas. For additional media and other news see also sagactoronline.com. Thank you and tell your friends. - Art Lynch
Getting Started in the Biz For minors working in the Los Angeles market
By Liz Briggs, Contributor to this blog site.
So you’ve got the cutest, most talented kid ever, eh? Well welcome to Hollywood. The Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) authorizes around 50,000 work permits for children in the entertainment industry every six months. That’s a lot of cute kids. But don’t let me discourage you! If you have the time and money to invest, having a kid working in Hollywood can be an exhilarating ride.
My son got his start in the background biz, working as an extra on Desperate Housewives. He was a teeny thing, only 2½ years old. We were living in the LA area at the time, which makes it much easier, but it is doable for folks living within a drive-able distance (San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco), especially if you have friends or family to stay with in town.
I recommend working background for kids just starting out, because it doesn’t require the same commitment as getting an agent. Once you are signed with an agent, you will be expected to be at his beck and call, dropping everything to drive into LA and audition at a moment’s notice. Background is different. There are rarely “fittings” (paid auditions), but for the most part, your child is booked directly off her picture, and you receive a call offering a day of work. Background is also different in that you can say “no.” If your kid has a spelling test, or a birthday party, or you just plain don’t feel like it, you can just pass up the opportunity, and it will go to someone else.
My son was and is registered with Kids Background Talent. They hold an effective monopoly on background work for kids in the LA market. As with any business, they are looking to make money, and I encourage you to do due diligence before signing up. That being said, my family has been very pleased with our results, and we do recommend them to our friends.
Whether you decide to go straight for an agent, or test out the waters in the background, two things that your child will need in order to work in the biz in California are a work permit and a Coogan (minor blocked trust) account. The work permit is fairly simple to obtain, and currently free, although pending legislation may create a $50 fee for each permit. The permit must be renewed every six months, and the renewals, as well as the original, may be obtained by mail. The forms are available on the DLSE website, and must be signed by the school for school-aged children, and by a doctor for babies between 15 days and one month of age. The minimum age for a child to work in the State of California is 15 days. The Coogan account is also easy to obtain by mail, and several, though certainly not all, banks in California offer them. Two good choices are the AFTRA-SAG Federal Credit Union, and First Entertainment Credit Union. Unlike many banks, these two credit unions specialize in entertainment industry clients and are therefore more familiar with the financial needs of young performers.
A final note about kids in the biz: Though fun and rewarding, being a kid in the biz is not all glamour and glitz. It takes hard work and a significant financial investment to make it work. A single day of background work pays around $130, less commissions, taxes, etc…certainly not enough to justify the gas and possible hotel costs on its own. It is only by looking at the big picture that we as parents can understand and justify the expense required to get our kids going in this crazy business.
A university course on Zombies found some interesting psychology and human anthropology lessons by studying its students. In a classroom of over 300 students there was laughter at the original "Day of the Living Dead", a film that at the time was considered the most scary horror film ever made, and which somewhat accurately represented what Zombies are, if they exist. The Haitian Zombie's are or were drug induced slow moving followers and/or dead who came back to life, rotting body parts falling apart and with a thirst for human meat and blood. The same students were awed and silent during a modern Zombie film with fast moving Zombies who looked and acted as if they were hyper-alive, counter to the legends and beliefs that gave rise to the Zombie tradition.. Zombies of the 1950s to 70's were popular as part of the fear and paranoia that existed with the slow crawl of communism and the ever present threat of a nuclear attack. Today's zombies, and in fact the turnover in politics and of television programming, reflects an impatience with whatever is current and the need for fast change, accelerated by computers, cell phones and a feeling of unrest at what is to come.
So this Halloween we offer more on the Zombie legends.
Across many cultures around the world, there is a concern that the dead could return to walk among the living. Sometimes these ghouls are merely tricksters who are having fun at our expense; other times they are vengeful creatures who were treated poorly in life and are exacting revenge. Perhaps it's a mother who died in childbirth. But there are very few places in the world where you won't find them.
2. Most Will Eat You If You Get Too Close These days, zombies are basically understood to be ghouls who consume the living. In fact, a large proportion of those who study zombies argue that they are basically a metaphor for consumption. George Romero's Dawn of the Dead famously suggested this, showing zombies wandering through a mall in a strangely similar way to when they were humans. So if zombies represent how we are when we are at our worst (say, the morning after Thanksgiving outside an electronics store that is practically giving flat-screen televisions away), we should be very afraid.
3. Zombies Don't Always Attack The Living In some cultures, including much of the African and Caribbean traditions from which the word "zombie" originated, zombies are more mindless servants that do the (more often bad, but sometimes quite neutral) bidding of a zombie keeper who has possessed them. In such cases, zombies tend to represent particular kinds of slave or labor relationships.
4. A Zombie Attack Is Probably The Worst Thing That Can Happen To You The reason zombies are so terrifying to us is because they represent one of our greatest fears: a loss of our autonomy, our ability to control our bodies and minds. It is fitting that these monsters have been largely represented as rotting corpses, because that's literally what they do to human beings: They decompose us individually and assimilate us into a giant, undifferentiated horde, just like the Borg in Star Trek (which essentially was one, roving, intergalactic zombie).
5. Of All The Undead Things You Could Become, Zombies Are The Worst As opposed to vampires, which are often represented as seductive, youthful superhuman creatures (or more recently as overly emotive teenagers), zombies are almost always cursed with an irreversible, less-than-attractive subhumanity in the single-minded pursuit of some task or thing (such as flesh or brains). With only a few imaginative exceptions, zombies cannot love, laugh or live freely.
6. They Have Become Fast — Because Our World Is Fast Zombies, like LOLcats videos, have gone viral; and when things go viral, they move fast. As the themes of zombie films have shifted from Cold War worries about the slow chemical effects of radiological exposure (the source of zombie outbreaks in films like Night of the Living Dead) to terrorism-era fears about rapid bacteriological exposure (for example, in 28 Days Later orResident Evil), the zombies have similarly accelerated. The more rapid our lives, communications, transportation and technology, the more quickly threats to them are experienced.
7. Oh, Yes, Zombies Are Real Scientists have discovered and manufactured bacteria, viruses and parasites that have zombie-inducing qualities. And stem cell and nanotechnology research offer real possibilities for the reanimation of tissue. There is also significant debate as to whether zombie neurotoxins exist; there is a whole branch of pharmacology devoted to determining whether such compounds can be found in nature.
8. You May Have Already Been Bitten The digital age is beginning to fundamentally change the ways in which human beings interact with each other. Immersion into our smart phones and our second lives in virtual worlds offer novel and exciting experiences, but also erode the lived, bodily dimensions of our humanity. The impact of technology on society is hardly new, but it certainly has accelerated in the past 20 years. So given the recent explosion of the undead in popular culture, one should wonder whether all of this might be suggesting an imminent zombie apocalypse? Or, perhaps, we are already in the thick of it.
Representative JOHN FLEMING: Again, class warfare has never created a job.
Senator LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, that's class warfare.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER: I don't think I would describe class warfare as leadership.
President BARACK OBAMA: This is not class warfare. It's math.
NEARY: That's President Obama and his Republican critics, House Speaker John Boehner, Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressmen John Fleming and Paul Ryan.
All of this got us wondering, when did this idea of using class warfare as an accusation and as a weapon itself first take hold in American politics? To help us answer that question, we're joined by Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.
Welcome to the program. Good to have you with us.
JULIAN ZELIZER: Thanks for having me.
NEARY: So where did this idea of class warfare begin?
ZELIZER: Well, we've seen the concept of class warfare circulated in American politics since the late 19th century and early 20th century. During that time, the influence of Karl Marx and socialism was very strong. You found emerging unions here in the United States who were thinking and talking about how the battles between capital and the wealthy and labor was going to be central to the kind of country that we had going into the 20th century.
But the term starts to be used less frequently during the Cold War through today. Many liberals feel defensive and they are worried that if they start to use the term class and they talk about class warfare they will be tagged in the Cold War as communists and, more recently, as far left wing extremists.
NEARY: Well, was there ever a time in the beginning of 20th century and in the 21st century where anyone politically was comfortable with the whole idea of using the word just class itself, dealing with the idea of class?
ZELIZER: Well, conservatives have been very comfortable using it throughout much of the 20th century as a way to attack Democrats. During the 1930s, for example, the American Liberty League said that the dragon teeth of class warfare are being sewn with a vengeance, talking about President Roosevelt.
And since then, you've often heard this charge that we now hear against President Obama that secretly any effort to enact a liberal program is really an effort to divide the classes.
NEARY: Well, did liberals start backing away from it in the 1950s because of the intense anticommunism at that time?
ZELIZER: That's exactly what happened. Many on the right would attack liberalism, even if it was, you know, mainstream liberalism that respected capitalism as being a form of socialism. Many liberals backed off. They didn't want to talk about economic classes. They talked about other issues and they talked about it in different ways.
NEARY: You know, this aversion that Americans have to the idea of class warfare, is that, in a sense, part of the reason why almost everybody seems to define themselves as middle class?
ZELIZER: Americans often and historically like to think of themselves as a classless society. There were even polls during the height of the Great Depression which famously showed that many Americans thought of themselves as being in the middle class, even those who were struggling with unemployment and who had nothing to subsist on.
There is a belief in this country that someone who doesn't have a lot of money, one day, has the opportunity to have a lot of money. And because of this, it's often been very hard for those on the left to use the notion of class conflict as a rallying cry as a way to organize social protest.
NEARY: Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. Thanks so much. It was good talking to you.
This week in labor history brought to you byUnion Plus:
The 40-hour work week went into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act, signed by Pres. Roosevelt two years earlier -- 1940 As you vote remember the party and goals behind labor.. Safe working conditions Limited work hours (without extra compensation) Breaks and meal opportunities A two day weekend National Holidays off The right to organize for your own good and safety A fair wage and many many more...
You have to admit that the Republican Party is organized, methodical and persistent – especially if you’re a Democrat, because your party is pretty much the opposite.
Slowly but surely, across the country, Republican governors and state legislatures are making progress in their war against labor unions, especially ones that represent public employees. Just yesterday, there was bad news from two states.
In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill making Indiana another “right to work” state, which is one of those slogans, like “pro-life” and “family values,” that sounds unobjectionable, but isn’t. That law is relatively simple: It prohibits labor contracts from requiring workers to pay union dues. The spin is that this is better for everyone. The truth is that it is not only bad for labor but also bad for the economy.
Unions will reduce a company’s profits somewhat, because they get higher wages for workers. But economists have found that unionization has a minimal impact on growth and employment. Six of the 10 states with the highest unemployment have right-to-work laws in place. North Carolina, which has the lowest unionization rate in the country, 1.8 percent, also has the sixth highest unemployment, 10 percent.
In 2010, wages of workers in unionized manufacturing companies in Indiana were 16 percent higher than in non-union plants. One Harvard study, published this summer in American Sociological Review, concluded that the decline in unionization since the 1970s is responsible for one-fifth of the increase in hourly wage inequality among women, and one-third among men.
The other bit of news on Wednesday came from Arizona, where Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill that would ban collective bargaining for public-sector employees.
They are mimicking a similar – and I think ultimately unconstitutional – law in Wisconsin, which pioneered the idea of singling out the people who work for their government and denying them the right to collective bargaining.
There has been a backlash. Opponents of the bill in Wisconsin have managed to recall two state senators who worked on it, and they have their sights on Gov. Scott Walker. Last November, Ohio voters overturned a bill that would have stripped most public employees of their right to collective bargaining.
The Republicans are not just waging an anti-union campaign, but an anti-government campaign as well. Right-wingers believe government is the cause of all things bad in the economy and in society, and are willing to sacrifice those who toil in the public interest in their effort to hobble it.
Proponents of the anti-union laws have told me it’s reprehensible for public employees to negotiate over wages, benefits and working conditions when their employer is the government to which we all pay taxes. When I ask, how is that different from negotiating with any employer, the answer I generally get is “it just is.”
Unions have over-reached in many ways, clinging to wage-and-benefits agreements that are simply untenable in today’s economy. But they are fundamental to maintaining fairness for workers. And governors in many states, including New York, have managed to get concessions from public employee unions without outlawing them.
With U.S. labor unions under constant conservative fire, the proposed merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is being closely watched within the labor movement as a measure of how unions react to the changing landscape.
"If this is approved, it's going to be a huge shot in the arm for the labor movement," AFTRA president Roberta Reardon told Variety on Sunday. "Labor unions have been under attack, particularly with the growing power of corporate employers and their ability to get around unions in new areas of work." Members of SAG and AFTRA began receiving ballots Feb. 27 and must return them by March 30. Each union must receive at least 60% support among those voting for the combo to go through. Merger backers -- led by Reardon and SAG prexy Ken Howard -- assert that the merged SAG-AFTRA would increase bargaining strength, resolve jurisdictional questions and represent a first step toward combining the health and retirement plans in order to solve the problem of performers not qualifying for coverage under the separate SAG and AFTRA plans. Reardon's attending the AFL-CIO executive council meetings in Florida this week as a VP of that group, which provided manpower in the 2003 merger attempt. "The AFL-CIO is painfully aware of the kind of friction that can occur internally when two unions are seeking jurisdiction over the same work," Reardon said. "It's no secret that SAG and AFTRA have had that kind of struggle." The anti-merger forces have filed a lawsuit to block the vote count, alleging that the guild hasn't adhered to its rules in sending out the proposal to members. They contend that the combined union will dilute the power of actors since the new entity will be repping AFTRA's broadcasters, singers and newscasters -- and that merging the pension and health plans is potentially damaging to SAG participants. Reardon, who's attended dozens of member meetings on the issue, asserts that she's cognizant of those concerns. "The unknown is very scary," she said. "But having a united consolidated strategy is really critical as the industry gets more complicated. On a show like 'Glee,' for example, the actors are represented by SAG but their singing is covered by AFTRA." Reardon's planning to attend a March 17 gathering in Los Angeles followed by an actors federation gathering and an AFTRA board meeting in Los Angeles on March 24. A hearing has been set for March 26 in Los Angeles federal court on the anti-merger suit filed by Martin Sheen and 60 other actors. The action alleges SAG and its leaders are attempting to merge "without conducting the necessary due diligence"; SAG has labeled the suit "a clear attempt at circumventing the will of the membership" and "a public relations stunt." Howard said Sunday that he's optimistic the merger will be approved. "Of course the labor movement is watching this carefully because the entertainment and media industries are two of the most vibrant industries in our country, and SAG-AFTRA would be the largest, most powerful union covering those industries," he said. "Naturally they're waiting to see what our members decide, and I'm confident they're going to vote to approve the merger." Howard had to skip the meeting in Florida due to an acting gig. "I'm extremely proud to serve on the AFL-CIO executive council, and I'm disappointed that I had to miss this week's meeting, but my 'day job' as an actor couldn't be ignored," he said. "In the midst of this tremendous effort to bring SAG and AFTRA together, it's important for me to stay engaged in the work that our unions are all about because it helps me be a better leader."
Given the economy, the unemployment rate, and the decline of the labor movement, this is hardly a Labor Day to celebrate. That said, perhaps we need to actually take the time think of why the labor movement got started in the first place. The US now has the largest split between the wealthy and the average American since the robber barrons and corporate giants whose abuse laid the foundation for the birth and growth of labor unions.Maybe the answer is to value the labor force, keeps jobs here in America, pay a little more for products than those who support foreign workers by shopping at Walmart and realize that if we do not, we may all be working for peanuts.
The Wall Street Journal reports that profits for major corporations are at an all time high, as are employment numbers. The same story in today's journal reports that the rise in employment is overseas, not the US, and that profits come from low cost labor, automation and lower cost (quality) goods. Why do we still believe in trickle down Republican economics when the facts are so clear that for the benefit of investors and paychecks of CEO's corporations are investing against America in overseas markets and using us as consumers instead of partners in labor and quality products.
“The Great Divergence”
by Timothy Noah is a book about income inequality, and if you’re
thinking, “Do we really need another book about income inequality?” the
answer is yes. We need this one.
It stands out in part because Noah, a columnist for The New Republic,
is not content to simply shake his fists at the heavens in anger. He
spends exactly one chapter on what he calls the “rise of the stinking
rich” — that is, the explosion in executive pay and what he calls “the
financialization of the economy,” which has enriched one small segment
of society at the expense of everyone else.
Mostly, he grapples with the deep, hard-to-tickle-out reasons that the
gap between the rich and the middle class in the United States has
widened to such alarming proportions. How much have technological
advances contributed to income inequality? Globalization and
off-shoring? The necessity of having a college education to land a
decent-paying job? The decline of labor unions?
That last one, I have to admit, caught me up short. My parents were both
public high school teachers, who proudly walked picket lines when the
need arose. My hometown, Providence, R.I., was about as pro-union a city
as you could find outside the Rust Belt. But like many college-educated
children of union parents, I have never been a member of a union, and I
viewed them with mild disdain.
As Andy Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union,
put it to me: “White-collar professionals tend to appreciate what
unions did for their parents. But they don’t view today’s janitors or
nurse’s aides in the same way.” Instead, they — or, rather, we — tend to
focus on the many things that are wrong with unions, exemplified these
days by the pensions of public service employees that are breaking the
backs of so many cities and states. Unions seem like a spent force, and
we tend not to lament their demise.
Noah includes himself as one of those liberals “who spent too much time
beating up unions,” as he told me recently. (He and I are both members
of the informal Washington Monthly alumni society.) His thinking began to change in the early 1990s when he read “Which Side Are You On?”
It is a powerful meditation on the difficulties unions face, written by Thomas Geoghegan,
a Chicago labor lawyer. Researching “The Great Divergence” reinforced
Noah’s growing view that when liberals turned their backs on unions —
when they put, in his words, “identity politics over economic justice” —
they made a terrible mistake.
Noah places the high-water mark for unionism in the mid-1950s, when
nearly 40 percent of American workers were either union members or
“nonunion members who were nonetheless covered by union contracts.” In
the early postwar years, even the Chamber of Commerce believed that
“collective bargaining is a part of the democratic process,” as its
then-president noted in a statement.
But, in the late-1970s, union membership began falling off a cliff,
brought on by a variety of factors, including jobs moving offshore and
big labor’s unsavory reputation. Government didn’t help either: Ronald Reagan’s firing
of the air traffic controllers in 1981 sent an unmistakable signal that
companies could run roughshod over federal laws intended to protect
unions — which they’ve done ever since.
The result is that today unions represent 12 percent of the work force.
“Draw one line on a graph charting the decline in union membership, then
superimpose a second line charting the decline in middle-class income
share,” writes Noah, “and you will find that the two lines are nearly
identical.” Richard Freeman, a Harvard economist, has estimated that the
decline of unions explains about 20 percent of the income gap.
This makes perfect sense, of course. Company managements don’t pay
workers any more than they have to — look, for instance, at Walmart, one of the most virulently antiunion companies
in the country. In their heyday, unions represented a countervailing
force that could extract money for its workers that helped keep them in
the middle class. Noah notes that a JPMorgan economist calculated that
the majority of increased corporate profits between 2000 and 2007 were
the result of “reductions in wages and benefits.” That makes sense, too.
At the same time labor has been in decline, the power of shareholders
has been on the rise.
“Say what you want about the abuses that labor committed,” says Noah.
“They were adversarial. They weren’t concerned enough about the general
prosperity. Some of them were mobbed up. But they were necessary
Not surprisingly, Noah closes his book with a call for a revival of the
labor movement. It is hard to see that happening any time soon. And
unions need to change if they are to become viable again. But if
liberals really want to reverse income inequality, they should think
seriously about rejoining labor’s side.
college professors: If you aspire to film a lecture series for the
Great Courses, the extended-learning outfit here, be prepared to check
your idiosyncrasies at the door.
had a professor who liked to rest his finger on his face,” Alisha Reay,
a producer at the company, recalled, demonstrating the tic. “And he
liked to use his middle finger.”
two television-quality studios here, the company puts academics and
other experts in front of cameras to record courses on a wide range of
subjects — game theory, photography, ancient civilizations, differential
equations, cooking with spices. The courses are aimed at people who
want to further their education just for the sake of the knowledge (no
tests or college credit here), but the filming process is an education,
too, for the expert being filmed.
I’m going too fast for my students, I can see it in their eyes,” Ron
Davis Jr., a chemistry professor at Georgetown University, said during a
break from his first taping session for Foundations of Organic
Chemistry recently. “But these cameras don’t react.”
was founded in 1990, at first marketing audiotapes, and in June
released its 500th course (Understanding Modern Electronics). It has
been busy of late, entering into partnerships with National Geographic
to expand on a popular photography course, the Culinary Institute of
America to develop a cooking series, and the Smithsonian Institution. It
recently sold its 15 millionth course.
Leon, the senior vice president for product development, said customers
for the courses, which range from less than $40 to several hundred
dollars and come in video or audio formats, might be broadening their
knowledge of a particular country in preparation for a trip, enhancing a
job skill or simply expanding their minds.
have binge watchers like Netflix does,” he said, “and it’s a real badge
of honor among some of our regulars to be the first to finish a new
extended-learning world grows more competitive all the time, with
online colleges and iTunes entering the mix. The company tries to stay
competitive with a production process that is more sophisticated than
simply taping professors delivering their classroom lectures. Instead,
the Great Courses staff comes up with ideas for courses, tests them out
through surveys, then looks for a professor who can develop that course.
A screen test might be involved, and, yes, sometimes a professor
“That’s always a difficult conversation,” Mr. Leon said.
The professors who do make the grade often need a little help to become camera-friendly.
have been times when we had to write ‘Breathe’ or ‘Pause’ under the
cameras,” Marcy McDonald, senior director of content, said. One
professor had the crew members tape pictures of people under the
cameras, so he felt as if he were talking to someone.
plenty of professors need to be told to stop swaying. “That’s the most
common thing,” Ms. Reay said, "and the camera magnifies it.
addition to professors who have to be purged of classroom habits that
don’t work on screen, an increasing challenge for the Great Courses
staff is professors who don’t know how to lecture at all. The “flipped
classroom” model that is taking hold in academia — in-class time is
devoted to hands-on activity rather than one-way instruction — means
that some professors have little experience with organizing and
delivering a traditional 30-minute talk.
“Now, fewer and fewer people lecture,” Ms. McDonald said. “That’s making it harder for us.”
lot of the performance kinks are worked out in practice sessions, but
the tapings are still a learning process at first. The filming is done
with three cameras, so professors have to know which one to talk to, and
when. Graphics, often elaborate, will be added in postproduction, so
the professors also have to become accustomed to gesturing at something
that isn’t there. Many work from a teleprompter, which also takes some
getting used to. And there’s the clock.
No. 1 is, ‘Pause, pause, pause,’ and I’m looking at the clock and
saying, ‘I can’t pause,’ ” Dr. Davis said after his first try, which he
brought in at 35 minutes 34 seconds, a little long. Professors usually
end up reshooting that first lecture after they have become more
comfortable with the process, an adjustment Dr. Davis will certainly
make: His course will ultimately consist of 36 half-hour lessons.
That same day, Paul Robbins, director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, showed the benefit of
experience, zipping through the 21st installment of his 24-lecture
course on cultural and human geography in 29:48.
a course of that length is a significant commitment, Dr. Robbins noted,
and for the Great Courses audience, it requires shedding academic
means writing a textbook, and writing a really good textbook in plain
language,” he said. “I’m thinking with a playwright’s hat rather than as
a talking head.”
that the process lacks academic rigor. As the professors tape, staff
members in a control room listen, and not in that zoned-out way you
absorbed lectures when you were in school. They have to catch
mispronunciations, garble, dropped words and more, so that the flubs can
be fixed in postproduction. If the speaker leaves out a “not,” a law of
physics can be radically altered.
the lecturers, a Great Courses assignment pays off in royalties, which
can stretch for years, since the courses stay in the catalog for some
time. But there are also less tangible benefits.
had a transformative effect on me as a teacher,” said Jennifer Paxton,
who teaches at the Catholic University of America and has recorded two
history courses for the company and is working on a third. “One of the
things they told me is that I should not hold back from really
demonstrating the enthusiasm that I felt for the material. I think that,
in a sense, I had drunk the academic Kool-Aid: You present something in
a serious, sober manner.”
For instance, her Great Courses coaches encouraged her to demonstrate graphically what happened in a medieval battle.
was really like being unchained,” she said. “That experience was very
profound. I came out and demonstrated the act of chopping the head off a
horse. I had never done anything like that in lectures before.”
by far the most prolific Great Courses instructor, with 618 lectures in
the can, said that the course he was working on now would take him a
year to develop, but that the effort pays off in front of cameras.
beauty of all that prep is, I walk into the studio, and that’s the fun
part,” he said. “What is for some people the worst part, and that is the
recording, is for me a great pleasure.”
How often do you hear someone say, "Oh, at one time unions were a good thing, but not anymore"?
The premise of this argument is that once upon a time there were robber barons stalking the land, and it was a fine thing that workers organized into unions to prevent them from hiring children and paying employees a pittance as they labored in sweatshops working fifteen-hour days.
Now, goes the narrative, in the age of high-tech industrial campuses and "information" workers, unions are "obsolete."
Next time you hear that argument from an otherwise rational person, give them a good shake and insist that they wake up from their dream world.
The central problem facing the American economy -- and our society -- is the collapse of the American middle class. The incomes of the middle class Americans, and those who aspire to be middle class -- 90% of Americans -- have been stagnant for almost three decades. This trend, which was briefly interrupted during the Clinton Administration, is the chief defining characteristic of our recent economic history.
This stagnation of middle class incomes has not happened because our economy has failed to grow over this period. In fact, real (adjusted for inflation) per capita gross domestic product (GDP) increased more than 80% over the period between 1975 and 2005. In the last ten years, before the Great Recession, it increased at an average rate of 1.8% per year. That means that if the benefits of economic growth were equally spread throughout our society, everyone should have been almost 20% better off (with compounding) in 2008 than they were in 1998.
But they weren't better off. In fact, median family income actually dropped in the years before the recession. It went from $52,301 (in 2009 dollars) in 2000 to $50,112 in 2008. And, of course it continued to drop as the recession set in.
From a student: One of these characters actually supported unions initially...or he wouldn't have made it to power. It is important to understand that all "ultimate power seeking" individuals and groups always say they support the "common man or worker" thru unions, strong nationalism (think of a country in itself as a union), or collectives. They all say this in public, even if their actual actions (use of brownshirts or blackshirts to suppress opposition) is what they really believe in. Also, who is it in our government that "has taken dictatorial power" and now wants to dissolve trade unions AND collective bargaining? Are you trying to paint certain elected officials (like Walker) as dictators? If so, why don't you just come and say it rather than beating around the bush? That sure seems to be the implied message once you read the student comment pasted below the comment in blue. Very sneaky...and devious game you are playing!!! Anyone with any brains in a political position knows that it is political suicide to suggest disbanding unions in this day and time. Therefore, it is logical/reasonable that someone, or a group "not in a dictatorial position" would most certainly "not support or suggest disbanding unions". As for collective bargaining, that's a moot point if the union's disbanded anyway. Some Hitler history: In 1933, Hitler disbanded the Weimar unions and replaced them with the new and improved union, the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF), which was comprised of 2 primary entities, the National Socialist Factory Organization and the National Socialist Trade and Industry Organization. The labor contracts that were Weimar contracts were now DAF-honored contracts. The Nazi’s funded the DAF’s coffers with the Weimar unions’ stockpile of wealth (the existing unions were part of that inflation problem). One of the new unions’ most popular programs was the Strength through Joy (Kraft durch Freude, KdF)) program, which developed the KdF-wagen, that later became the Volkswagen, or People’s Car. The primary goal of Germany’s national socialists (Nazi Party) was to “create a classless” society. Hitler’s unions were front and center in this cause. In fact, Hitler gave the unions their long-awaited demand, one that the Weimar unions were never able to pull off, a National Labor Day, May 1, 1933. March 24th, 1933 is when Hitler officially gained dictatorial power.
is an unofficial private letter, not a publication of SAG-AFTRA nor
does it reflect the views and policies of the Guild. I am writing this
in open honesty as myself, Art Lynch, who happens to serve Nevada on
the National Board of Directors of SAG-AFTRA.
Brothers and sisters of our union;
am proud to represent you on the National Board of Directors. I hope to hear from you to find out
what you feel I need to do, as well as your concerns. Your views,
opinions and what you feel I should be doing for you are valued and
always, President Ken Howard begins meetings with a moment of silence
for those who have passed away over the past year. He reads each name
in solemn voice. It was highly emotional for me when Nevadans were
acknowledged. Four generations of talent are leaving this earth, most of them far too young. We have lose actors from the Hollywood Studio Systems heyday, and from recent television seasons, from our childhoods and from our children's childhoods, from grandparent and parents life times...some expected, some in unnecessary shock and trauma.
Rest in peace.
We are union.
Politics, the past and
petty differences must be put aside to allow for more meetings,
stronger committees, the loss of divisive agendas in committees, work
with the national board representative to inform the membership, be a
vital part of the process of forming a new union, and solidifying Nevada
as a stand alone branch or local, with our own identity, history and
membership needs and services. With the election behind us, we need to
hold our our hands, swallow our pride and move forward for the
membership, not our own ego, agenda or social desires.
SAG-AFTRA is a union, not a club or social organization.
are part of the AFL-CIO and four A's. We function legally as a union
and provide union services and negotiation rights as outlined by Federal
is constitutionally vested in the National Board of Directors, with
certain powers vested by the board to our National Executive Director.
Locals deal with local needs, committees and keeping the membership
connected to and involved with the branch.
Local activism encouraged.
members are encouraged to plan events in support of charity. There are
two reasons that such activities do need to be coordinated through
staff. First of all, to allow the union to assist in publicizing member
activities. The second is make sure that there are no conflicts you may
not be aware of (limitations on SAG-AFTRA set by Federal Labor law,
planned job actions, or conflicts with SAG-AFTRA policy as examples).
The Nevada local has been one of the more active branches, and has
plans to become even more so.
Stay Dues Current: It is important for Nevada’s voice in a new union.
The deadline to pay your dues comes up on us unexeptedly every October and March. A reminder to SAG members that it is
very important you pay your dues. Methods of payment and, if
applicable locations, can be found on thehttp://sag-aftra.org web site. Your on-time dues payment is vital to ensure services and national board voting level for Nevada.
The Road Toward a New Union.
new merged union is increasing our strength to deal with the
corporations who hire us, to maintain wages and working conditions, to
establish our right to representation on new media and growing contracts
and to protect performers well into the future. Economy of scale and
unified representation will end competition between unions in this
anti-union environment in which we all live. If you wish to work more
often, you should support the proposed new union.
There will be
merger or growing pains. Some branches and locals have closed or forced to consolidate. We still have a strong local, but advice comes through Denver and all oversight and assistance is through Los Angeles departments, delaying response and sometimes being lost in the cracks. I am working on this as are all levels of management. Document all calls and contacts and feel free to let myself, Julie in Denver and Linda in Dallas know about any problems that occur in timly response from LA.
We must continue to battle for the return of a local exectutive and office in the future. It is up to all of us as members to keep the pressure on. Deep and painful cuts
were made by our paid National Executive Director under the powers
given to that position by the constitution. They were needed due to a
much larger budget shortfall than projected when merger occurred. In the
time since the nature of finances has become clearer. We have to focus
on the core missions of contracts, working conditions, organizing and
servicing the members at a basic core union levels. The board had little to no notice and
no real say as we saw our executives removed, offices closed and in some
cases locals dissolved or merged into other geographically distant
locals. We also saw no alternatives, given budget information.
However remember that for most of its
existence as a branch of the Screen Actors Guild Nevada had no local
executive or office. We grew and we prospered into one of the most
active small locals in the nation.
A new union for the 21st century "and beyond' (Buzz Light-year) is the goal.
Former SAG President Richard Masur drove it home with me...the choice is
survival, and being able to remain a strong union. If we did not
merge, new technologies, management driven powers and divisiveness
between unions could have weaken both unions at a time when the
anti-union politics of the country are growing, and management merging
into even stronger blocks of employers.
There will be change. There are no guarantees on local
integrity, political voice or structure into the future, although the
focus is toward national representation from the local level up.
Remember that there are major cultural and structural differences that
remain from the two "landmark" unions. These must be dealt with to
strengthen the foundation for the "new union."
Organizing to increase work opportunities.
The Guild is working to increase the use of SAG-AFTRA talent.
truth is that a union contract not only protects you, but offers
advantages to young producers and filmmakers. This will help producers
to see the value of qualified professional union talent. There are
resources within the Guild to help productions use qualified union
It is up to us to sell filmmakers, including those who appear to be solidly anti-union, on the value of union talent and the protections of union contracts not just for us but for them.
is working internally and with outside services to make it easier for
the employers to become union signatories. The starting point is the
corporate educational contract, with local focus on small low budget and
student films, but efforts will expand.
really starts at the grass roots level. That means you, me and
everyone else in the union. We need to audition for all productions,
union and non-union, but insist on a union contract before we accept a
job. We need to report union members who are ignoring our primary rule,
that we do not work non-union. We need to help show producers how easy
it can be to work with union talent under a union contract. We need to
be fully professional on audition and on the set. We need to support
and become active with the Local Nevada Organizing Committee.
Rule One must be enforced to build union work for us all.
Remember Rule 1 always applies, which means union talent does not do non-union work.
are obligated to turn in anyone alleged to be doing non-union work.
There is a due-process procedure, along with evidential requirements and
degrees of judgment and decisions making. No member will be
“crucified” and most come out of the process as stronger unionist.
9 enforcement is another issue in areas where all entertainment acting
related unions are active. We are expected to support other unions in
you are working under a SAG-AFTRA contract, you may cross another
unions picket line. If you are not working a SAG gig, it is up to
you. SAG members are encouraged to join in union picket lines, in view
of the declining position of unions in America. By auditioning I have earned modified low budget, ultra low budget and student contracts on five films over a four month period. Audition for non-union production.
Offer them information and encourage them to use a union contract for
your talents. If they do not..."just say no." This remains one of the best grass roots ways to build the amount of opportunity and work in Nevada.
Stay on top of your union.
is important that members have current e-mail addresses that they
check and read. The union will provide information on what your union
is doing, send surveys for your opinion and promote events and benefits
you may find interesting only by e-mail. The print magazine will be
provided three times a year, with an e-version for the 4th edition.
you know of any member who does not have e-mail, or who is not
receiving electronic Guild communications, please offer to help them to
Hollywood Reporter may still be offering free subscriptions for Guild
members, on-line news magazine, blogs, and other services are available
free or for a fee, to help you to remain on top of the industry. There
are special rates on other industry publications and free feeds from
the SAG-AFTRA, the SAG Foundation and other news and information
sources. In the interest of full disclosure, I have run a daily Nevada
industry blog for over ten years. I also run two FaceBook and two a
second blog. http://www.sagactoronline.com/ https://www.facebook.com/SAGActor https://www.facebook.com/art.lynchSAG