OUR REVOLUTION LOS ANGELES CONDEMNS SAG-AFTRA
OUR REVOLUTION LOS ANGELES CONDEMNS SAG-AFTRA FOR ITS DECISION TO IMPLEMENT CHANGES TO ITS HEALTH PLAN EFFECTIVELY KICKING THOUSANDS OF ITS MOST VULNERABE MEMBERS OFF OF COVERAGE ADMIST COVID PANDEMIC
On August 12th The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) announced via email to its membership that it would be making changes to its Health Plan effectively kicking thousands of its members off their health insurance in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis. According to SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles Local, the overwhelming majority of members affected will be those who had previously qualified for senior coverage or who had otherwise retired. The e-mail cited “rising healthcare costs” and “extraordinary physical, emotional, and financial pressures” to justify this unconscionable decision during a time when its members needed and presumably hoped for assistance most.
Changes made to the Health Plan included but were not limited to increasing the earnings threshold from $18,040 to $25,950 during a time when film production has severely slowed and productions are understandably looking to minimize the number of people on sets. These adjustments for the pandemic have resulted in drastic reductions to background, stand-in, stunt and guest role jobs that gave many low income actors the ability to qualify for coverage. Changes also included the elimination of amended thresholds for qualifying senior performers. All of this to say, when struggling and dismayed members of SAG-AFTRA have looked to their union for support during this difficult time they have been thrown under the bus instead.
This announcement comes on the heels of the ratification of SAG-AFTRA’s latest Film & TV contract, just three weeks prior. The contract was opposed already by one quarter of members who voted, as well as the Times Up Foundation, but was ultimately approved at least in part due to President Gabrielle Carteris’ administration sending multiple rounds of mailers pressuring members to vote “Yes” boasting “additional funding for the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan.” Members deserved to know about these upcoming changes before this vote, but they did not.
This announcement has jarred hundreds, if not thousands, of SAG-AFTRA members already, spurring an emergency virtual Town Hall on Friday August 14th in which over 400 people turned out, mostly to air their grievances towards these changes (though a small number of attendees were observers and press). Many attendees were seniors and parents worried about how they are going to qualify for healthcare for themselves and their families. Many attendees also expressed that the surprise increase in the threshold to eligibility means that they now have to make the difficult decision between working during a pandemic or risk losing their coverage.
Our Revolution Los Angeles condemns this outrageous and unconscionable decision made by the Board of Trustees at SAG-AFTRA and neglected, if not outright facilitated, by the failed leadership of President Gabrielle Carteris’ administration. We stand in solidarity with the struggling and low income SAG-AFTRA members who have been blindsided by this inconceivable and reckless decision. We share their outrage, and we support all efforts to demand that these changes be immediately rescinded, including an online petition that has already garnered upwards of 15,000 signatures. We also cite such morally bankrupt decisions as only further justification as to why we have fought, and will continue to fight, for a Medicare-for-All system in which every single person in the United States of America has full and adequate healthcare coverage.