Veteran Actor Jon Voight planned to appear in a friend's non-union film and was unfairly made a target by SAG . He fired back by enabling his financial core status and taking out a full page letter in the January 25, 2005 edition of the Daily Variety explaining why.
January 25, 2005 Dear Fellow Actors,
Please know that I am deeply moved by your recent nomination for SAG's "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie," and I want to express my sincere gratitude for that honor. Since then, you may have heard that the SAG board has excluded me from the awards ceremony on February 5, 2005. The published explanation given for my exclusion is not accurate, and I feel I owe a truthful explanation so that what happened to me, should never happen to another actor.
The truth is that during the Summer of 2003, I was approached by a dear friend who had a lifetime vision of directing a piece he had written. He explained to me he had very little money and he would need to feel complete freedom, if there was any possibility to bring his vision to fruition.
When I read the script, I was so moved! It was original, it was spiritual, and I felt it would be important, and an answer to many of our personal sufferings. It wasn't too long before other people felt the same as I did, and supplied just enough minimal funds so my friend could begin work on his project.
I knew by law I could participate in the project without violating the Guild's rule against non-union work by electing "financial core" status. I called the Guild to request that status. My request was met with fear and panic from the SAG officer in charge of "financial core." "Jon, you must not do this," she said. "You will open the door to all our actors running for financial core." I thought to myself, "What's so bad about that? There could be multiple reasons, financial and otherwise, why many creative people might want to do a non-union movie under the protection of 'financial core.' 'Core' membership is an entitlement of any union member, protected by federal law." I needed a few days to think about this.
Before I had arrived at a solution, all hell broke loose! Suddenly, there was what can only be described as a brutal attack on the small production, not only by SAG, but other unions as well. They came down hard. It was vicious and ugly. I thought I was living a part in the film, On the Waterfront.
Our Guild exacerbated the assault with the false announcement to the press that I was the film's producer. My peers, who were rushed off to join the angry mob on picket lines, had no idea that I was not the producer, and that I had not worked one day as an actor on the film, but the false information they were led to believe was immediately released to the press.
The unions' scare tactics worked. The crew was frightened to continue, and a small filmmaker's creative endeavor was shut down after 2 1/2 weeks of work, leaving great financial losses.
The ugliness did not end. The attacks on me and the production continued on with vicious taunts and lies spread over the internet. It went on for months, leaving in its wake extreme stress and mental anguish for all involved. If this could happen to me, a veteran actor of 40 years and an Academy Award Winner, I shuddered to think what would be in store for other actors. I wouldn't want this to happen to anyone ever again.
Because of all the cruel bullying and unfair play, I then decided to apply for "financial core" to see if I could help salvage in any way this original pure vision. I understood that I would give up my right to vote in union matters, but I would be able to work legally in non-SAG films, as well as SAG films. As a "financial core" member, I willingly pay the same dues as all other SAG members, which support the efforts of the Guild to negotiate and administer our contracts, efforts I concur with. I contribute and participate in the various benefit funds on the same basis as a full member. Given the structure of the contracts, my support of the Guild exceeds that of most members.
I would hope to think that the anguish and stress that was put upon me would have been enough, but it was not. The SAG board chose to bring me once again what they think is shame, and apparently to warn other actors off joining financial core, by announcing to the press that I was not invited to the ceremony to which my fellow actors nominated me for a union film. All this is because of my willingness to uphold the right to our personal pursuit of freedom and liberty. I am neither sorry nor ashamed for my decision to join "financial core." My sorrow comes only for a union that can be a great force, that can accomplish much good, and protect, promote, and nourish the actor in his individual pursuits, but does not yet understand that there will be some that will be happy to follow the union in all its rules and regulations, but there may be some that will differ, and follow a destiny of their own choosing, and that is their right, and that is our country's Constitution.
I congratulate all my fellow nominees, and wish everyone the best.
With great sincerity,
PLEASE read the following message and view the special short
video ...of Senator John Edwards below, YES I KNOW HE BETRAYED HIS FAMILY
HOWEVER...HE WILL PAY FOR THOSE DEEDS...BUt in this speech he does touch on
important points and NO ONE IS PERFECT...So try to see how what he spoke of
does matter and apply ..and yes He too is a VICTIM of his own FAilure to
do the right thing. So take a look and see the IRONY here spoken by a ONCE
Respected Leader...Look for the VALUE not his own Failures.... AND although it has NOTHING to do with SAG
or Actors ...what he says inspired me to encourage you to hear what he does say
about our country and the world. Which I feel has everything to do with being
an Artist that wants to make a difference and that difference means not being
afraid to speak about subjects that you have been WARNED to keep your thoughts
and feelings to yourself. _____________________________________________________________________________________________
Senator John Edwards spoke on MARTIN LUTHER KING JR's National Day of Recognition.
The subject was about how 'Silence is Betrayal' (quoting Dr. King)...I want you to watch the footage here that I have imported. I believe it speaks to many issues in our nation (not only the War in IRAQ or the troubles of our own Nation or the World) but in our personal and professional lives...including the 'Silence' that actors and all Union members of any Union for any Profession...I repeat for any Profession...including Teachers and Bus Drivers or Oil Rig Workers... face when they consider 'Financial Core' status with their Union...
Listen to John Edwards speak about what 'Silence' does on major issues of integrity. After you watch this speech then read the information I have provided below on the subject of 'Financial Core'....
See how this subject of 'SILENCE is BETRAYAL' applies to all actors no matter what their status in SAG.
Also read actor Jon Voight's letter that is also posted on the subject (below).
This page is for those who want to be informed. Who want to take responsibility for their lives and career and find out for themselves what they can do as a citizen and as an actor.
And Now, watch...John Edwards in 'SILENCE is Betrayal' imported from 'YOUTUBE'.
When I saw the above speech...I felt it covered many issues beyond just his points...and that you need to think about what he said and how it applies to your life and your work. Senator John Edward's wisdom applies to all our lives.
His speech has Nothing...and Everything to do with 'Financial-Core'.
I have been told...no WARNED...NOT TO TALK about Financial- Core...to keep the information off my Web-Site...that it would be better I spoke in private about the subject. Just like what's happening in New Orleans...IRAQ...Darfur...Beirut...and the rest of the World...stay Silent...even if you know you could help others.
If you really care about your fellow Guild members then you would want them to know their rights. John Edwards reminded me that keeping this information on my site is exactly what I need to do.
* Important Note:
The following information is for all union actors that have never been told about Financial Core or for those that don't fully understand it...or who are afraid to talk about it...or for those Non-Union Actors that want to join the Union but are unfamiliar with all the options once they do.
WHAT ACTORS REALLY NEED TO KNOW...about FINANCIAL CORE.
History of Fi-core
...came about as states industrialized and made their own laws about whether they were to be a “union shop” state or a “right-to-work” state. “Union shop” states passed laws like the Taft-Hartley law, which require workers to join a labor union in order to continue work under a union contract. “Right to Work” states allowed unions to exist, but they cannot be required to pay anything to the union as a condition of employment and membership is completely voluntary. Today there are 22 “Right to Work” states, including entertainment heavy Florida, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Texas. California and New York are both “union” states.
The following data has been gathered from many web sites that have tried to help inform Actors of their UNION rights regarding a SUPREME COURT case which allows UNION members to work Union and Non-Union jobs. Here is all the information to help educate you so you can make an intelligent choice. I am not telling you what to do...but I wanted to provide you with information that was NEVER given to me as a UNION member. Now it is the LAW to inform all members of every UNION. *
*on February 17, 2001, President George W. Bush signed an executive order that unions are obliged to inform all prospective members of their “financial core rights” or "BECK rights" before they join the union.Click on "Beck rights" below for the official Supreme Court Documents .(President Bush has made many mistakes ...however, this was not one of them. This law is what freedom is about.)
NOW, to save you many hours of time HERE are links to all documents that pertain to Financial Core.
http://www.nrtw.org/a/a_3_p_a.htm this is a link for a sample letter you may use to apply for Financial Core Status.
FINANCIAL CORE STATUS read the SUPREME COURT CASE (click on the link).
What is Financial Core?
Financial Core (fi-core for short) is a right granted by the Supreme Court and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rulings that allow workers (not just actors) to NOT join the union, and still work union jobs. Basically, you become a “dues paying non-member” in the eyes of your union and you are allowed to work both union and non-union jobs. You cannot be forced to join a union, but you must pay your fair share.
A problem arose within the “union shop” states in the late 1950s. Unions had quickly become a very strong political force in this country, and they overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party (even today the current president of the AFL-CIO, of which SAG is an affiliate, is a proud member of Democratic Socialists of America, and the AFL-CIO has endorsed John Kerry for president in 2004 to the tune of about $44M). What about the members who did not want their “forced” dues money to be spent on political causes they did not believe in? They had to join the union in order to work. But that membership was essentially stepping on their constitutional freedom to vote. Enter Financial Core...a concept defined by a 1963 Supreme Court ruling called NLRB v. GENERAL MOTORS. This ruling says,
“The burdens of membership upon which employment may be conditioned are expressly limited to the payment of initiation fees and monthly dues. It is permissible to condition employment upon membership, but membership, insofaras it has significance to employment rights, may in turn be conditioned only upon payment of fees and dues. “Membership” as a condition of employment is whittle down to its financial core.”
In other words, the union can make you pay for the costs of union business, but they cannot force you to pay for political or ideological activities.
Another landmark Supreme Court case, COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA v. BECK (commonly called the Beck Decision, or Beck Rights), further solidified the definition of fi-core and said that workers who declare financial core status only have to pay the fraction of the dues that is directly related to contract negotiation, enforcement, etc. In the Beck Decision, the court ruled that only 21% of Mr. Beck’s union dues were related to contract negotiation, so that is all he had to pay. As of this writing, SAG contends that 97.7% of your dues money IS directly related to collective bargaining and the like.
Lastly, SAG and AFTRA themselves have a few court rulings to their credit, BUCKLEY v. AFTRA, 419 U.S. 1093 (1974) where AFTRA violated the NRLA by “coercing” Buckley into becoming a full-fledged member, and the Supreme Court ruling of MARQUEZ v. SCREEN ACTORS GUILD, et al (1998) where the union was chastised for denying Ms. Marquez work because she had not paid SAG dues, but also not informing her of her right to fi-core status. The Financial Core Handbook http://www.markmcintire.com Sharequest Publishing, 15th Edition updated in 2004. Mr. McIntire is also the President of the Financial Core Foundation, a Professor of Philosophy at UC Santa Barbara and was himself a >SAG board member who declared financial core. Final note from ...Michael Savage
This is more information then anyone had ever shared with me ...when I discovered this information a few years back I decided to allow all my actors and visitors to read this information and decide for themselves. If you made it this far then here is a very special short from ABC 20/20 The Subject is Casting Directors taking fees from actors to meet them ...again draw your own conclusions ...this is information that was not easy to share until now...