Last week, we received word that the Teamsters have joined SAG in standing up against the closure of the Motion Picture and Television Fund Long Term Care facility. Our momentum in ramping up the heat is moving faster than the spinning dial on my bathroom scale.
Still, in the afterglow of this momentous development, I was surfing the IATSE website and came across a document that the MPTF is trying to put over entitled "Setting the Record Straight."
It reads like a script from Dragnet. Staccato "facts" that would be better delivered by a droll Sgt. Friday on the steps of a house in the Valley where the faint smell of contraband piques the ire of the deadpan Sgt. Friday and Officer Bill Gannon. You remember watching the show if you’re my age — that moment when fits of giggles takes over in reaction to a scene meant more for drama than comedy, because it is so ridiculous and absurd.
Well, here are the real facts ma’am, as the MPTF would want you to believe — along with what the reality of the situation really is. You get extra points for keeping a straight face, even more for signing our petition:
1. FACT: MPTF IS NOT CLOSING — MPTF IS CLOSING ITS HOSPITAL ONLY
Bull. More than the hospital is closing, much more. The long term care center, the final home to now around 80 elderly and infirm motion picture and television industry and union workers has also been scheduled to close. How bleak is the future of our health care when the hospital and nursing home that has been serving our industry for over 80 years is voluntarily closed by a bunch of ill-informed movie moguls? What’s next? What services will be denied to us? They’ve already closed the ICU in the hospital, now they want to close the LTC — is Harry’s Haven next? Where will you go if you have something more severe than a hangnail or a hemorrhoid?
2. FACT: THE WASSERMAN CAMPUS RETIREMENT COMMUNITY CONTINUES TO BE A VITAL AND ACTIVE PART OF THE MPTF MISSON
Really? Retirement isn’t all shuffleboard and bouncing the grandkids on the knee — it’s also about palliative care and care for advanced aging. If the MPTF had its way, this type of care will be performed by others, off campus, whose only affiliation with the Motion Picture Industry is the autographed picture of Hal "Goober" Lindsay in their waiting room. You will be taken out of your "home" and taken to other facilities for the rest of your days if your retirement finds you in need of round the clock skilled nursing. So much for a vital and active retirement community. Sounds a lot like the two dimensional community of "The Truman Show," where nothing was real. That metaphor now makes me part of the motion picture community too.
3. FACT: THE INDUSTRY COMMUNITY, BOTH WEALTHY AND RANK AND FILE HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY GENEROUS SUPPORTERS OF THE MPTF
This fact can cause spontaneous combustion in even the most devout MPTF’er. If this is true, then why were they not notified when, five years ago, it was discussed that the Long Term Care facility was spiraling down the drain? Would we be in the situation we are in today if the most generous supporters, of which there are billionaires, could not come together with the entertainment industry to raise the needed funds? They weren’t even asked.
4. FACT: MPTF HAS A $130 MILLION INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO
The fact that a "nursing home" has the potential to bring down all of motion picture and television health care indicates the incompetence of management. Strategic planning in other health-care facilities have been able to deal with current economic conditions. The MPTF has weathered the Great Depression, Black Monday of 1987 and other serious economic challenges. Why is today different? With all its money and income, the MPTF does not want to provide the service — end of story. It has other plans for the campus that do not include Long Term Care. It does not have that right.
5. FACT: MPTF HAS PROVIDED MORE THAN $2 MILLION IN FINANCIAL ASSTANCE TO 4000 INDUSTRY MEMBERS IN 2008.
We applaud and support the ongoing efforts of the MPTF to assist all of us in times of need, to support scholarship and to subsidize industry members and their families. This does not negate it responsibility to the aged of our industry and union.
This isn’t the auto industry — this is the motion picture industry where even in this economy robust revenues pour in with every new blockbuster. Yes, there are challenges — but what type of industry are we if we turn our back on the most needy, infirm, elderly members that have bought and paid for the privilege of being a resident at the Motion Picture Home.
SAG and The Teamsters got it right. Please look to your union or guild and ask them to support us in the fight to keep the promise of "Taking Care of Our Own" to their board and membership.
Oh yeah, please sign our petition.