Showbizreporting's Blog

June 2, 2009

SAG’s Statement Regarding National Board Actions (Jan. 26, 2009)

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 2:15 am

SAG’s out with a press release confirming what was first reported about 10 hours ago … though in fairness, they’ve had a rough day over there in the SAG Communications department. The press release also gives short bios of the two new highly-qualified people stepping in to right the ship, David White as interim NED and John McGuire as Chief Negotiator.

Here’s the release:



Los Angeles (January 26, 2009) — The Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors by written assent today terminated the employment of Doug Allen and appointed former Guild general counsel David White to replace him as interim national executive director. The board further appointed longtime Guild senior advisor John T. McGuire as chief negotiator.

The board also disbanded the TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee and directed that it be replaced with a Taskforce directed to complete these negotiations on behalf of the board of directors.

All actions are effective immediately.

The assent was received and verified by Guild legal counsel and Screen Actors Guild’s outside counsel.

White has assumed his role as interim national executive director and will work from the Guild’s national headquarters office in Los Angeles beginning Tuesday, January 27, 2009.

“This is a difficult time for Screen Actors Guild and a particularly challenging period for working actors,” said White. “I am deeply committed to the Guild and its members and I believe that, working with the national board, we can help guide this transition.”

“I look forward to working closely with this talented and dedicated staff, many of whom I know well from my years as the Guild’s general counsel,” he added.

During his tenure as Screen Actors Guild’s general counsel, White directed the organization’s legal and governance staff and played a central role in the Guild’s contract negotiations and strategic planning efforts. He later co-founded and served as the managing principal of the consulting firm Entertainment Strategies Group (ESG). A graduate of Stanford Law School and a Rhodes Scholar, White was previously a labor and employment attorney at the Los Angeles firm of O’Melveny & Myers.

He has consulted for Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago and a variety of urban development projects in the United States, England and South Africa. He currently serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Grinnell College and is the former co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Sports & Entertainment Labor Law Standing Committee. He also serves as a Mayoral-appointed commissioner of Los Angeles for urban area planning and development.

John T. McGuire is currently the Guild’s senior advisor. During his nearly 40 years with the union, he participated in or led more than 30 contract negotiations covering actors. From 1983 to 2001, he was Screen Actors Guild’s associate national executive director, the second highest ranking executive position. Prior to 1983 he served as the New York executive director.

McGuire graduated from Fordham College with a B.A. degree in History and from Fordham Law School with a J.D. degree in law. He has represented the union internationally at meetings with performer organizations around the world. He serves as a trustee of the SAG-Producers Pension & Health Plans, as well as vice president and founding director of the American Museum of the Moving Image, president of the Council of Motion Picture & Television Unions of New York City, secretary of the Motion Picture Players Welfare Fun and as a trustee of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. He is a member of the board of the Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund and is vice president of the International Federation of Actors.

Guild senior executives issued an email reminding Guild employees to continue to pursue the organization’s core mission of serving and protecting the interests of Screen Actors Guild members.
SAG National Executive Director Firing – How it Went Down

Posted: 26 Jan 2009 07:57 PM PST

The SAG board’s moderate majority fired National Executive Director Doug Allen today by using a document signed by board members and called a “written assent.” Much to my surprise, Allen chose not to fight and instead emailed the SAG staff acknowledging that he had been terminated and saying goodbye. A copy of the email is below.

Perhaps one reason Allen agreed so readily is that—as has not previously been reported—the assent provides that his contract will be paid out in full. The assent itself has not previously been released. However, I’ve received a copy. See below.

A natural question is how the process unfolded. I spoke to two sources close to the situation who laid out the following narrative:

At around 11:00 a.m. Monday morning, a group of board members went to SAG’s LA headquarters. The group included Unite for Strength leader Ned Vaughn, NY board member Sam Freed, board members Ken Howard, Pamela Reed, Stacey Travis, Gabrielle Carteris and two others whose names I don’t know.

The group, which was not accompanied by counsel, presented the written assent to SAG General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and SAG outside counsel Bob Bush—both of whom SAG President Alan Rosenberg had allegedly derided two weeks ago as “liars” who “don’t know what [they’re] talking about.”

Crabtree-Ireland and Bush withdrew for 15-20 minutes with the document while the actors waited in the Foundation Room. The two lawyers then returned and acknowledged that the document was in order. Doug Allen then came to the meeting room and asked the actors if there was anything that any of them wanted to say to him directly. There was an awkward silence, then one of the actors answered “Thank you for your service.” Allen replied “You’re welcome,” then stalked out, slamming the door.

Also worth noting: The written assent also dissolves the Negotiating Committee and replaces it with a 10-member task force. The Hollywood members include three Membership First partisans: SAG President Alan Rosenberg, 1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson, and board member Clancy Brown; plus independent board member Morgan Fairchild, and Unite for Strength leader and board alternate Ned Vaughn.

Thus, Membership First retains a majority of the Hollywood membership on the task force, just as they have within the Hollywood Division board itself (though not the national board). One hopes that they’ll use their presence constructively, not obstructively. New York members of the task force are 2nd VP Sam Freed and board members Mike Hodge and Matt Servitto. The Regional (RBD) members are Mike Pniewski and Nancy Duerr.


From: Doug Allen

Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 1:02 PM

To: Everyone Everywhere

Subject: Message from Doug Allen

I have been informed by SAG counsel that the National Board has terminated my employment as National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator of Screen Actors Guild. I am disappointed in the board’s decision, which was made by written assent, and I am proud of my record as SAG’s NED and Chief Negotiator.

I wish Screen Actors Guild and its members success and I have been honored to serve them. I have particularly enjoyed leading the wonderful men and women on the SAG staff and serving with SAG’s National President Alan Rosenberg and National Secretary-Treasurer Connie Stevens.

I have made some wonderful friendships with many SAG elected leaders, members and staff and will cherish those friendships forever.

My best wishes to you all,

Doug Allen


[Here’s the written assent]

Pursuant to the Screen Actors Guild Constitution, Article V, Section 1. (J.) (4.), the following actions are hereby authorized through written assent by a majority of the members of the SAG National Board of Directors.

I. Effective immediately, Doug Allen is terminated as an employee of Screen Actors Guild. Upon receipt of this document, he is to cease and desist in all work on behalf of this union. He is no longer the National Executive Director and has no authority to take any action, make any statement on behalf of this union or direct any Guild employee to take any action. Nor may he authorize the expenditure of any moneys which the Guild possesses. He is to immediately vacate the premises under the supervision of Bob Bush or, in his absence, such other person that the General Counsel may select, and may remove only his personal effects. Further, he is no longer Chief Negotiator of the TV/Theatrical or Commercials Contracts. The compensation due him under his contract will be paid in full, through its expiration date. This order will commence and satisfy any notice period regarding his employment termination applicable under his employment agreement.

II. Effective immediately, David White, former General Counsel of Screen Actors Guild, is hereby engaged as the Interim National Executive Director of Screen Actors Guild. In light of the vacuum created by the termination of NED Doug Allen, and the precarious position the Guild finds itself in, we deem it critical to hire an Interim NED with the industry experience, professional skills, and familiarity with the Guild’s operations to immediately help us return this union to a stable footing.

III. Effective immediately, John T. McGuire, the Senior Adviser to Screen Actors Guild is hereby named Chief Negotiator for all contracts. In light of the vacuum created by the termination of Doug Allen, we deem it critical to appoint a Chief Negotiator with the professional skills, and standing in the industry to immediately step in and successfully complete the TV/Theatrical negotiations, the uncompleted Basic Cable, Animation and Interactive Agreements, and lead us through the imminent Commercial Contract negotiations. Mr. McGuire will, in consultation with Mr. White, be responsible for all contract negotiations and enforcement.

IV. Effective immediately until the October 2009 National Board Plenary, Guideline II of the National Committee Guidelines (dealing with Taskforces) is suspended.

V. Effective immediately, the TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee is disbanded and is no longer authorized to continue negotiations on the TV/Theatrical Agreement or, because of its interrelated nature, the Live Action Basic Cable Agreement. In its place, a Taskforce is hereby formed to complete these negotiations on behalf of the Board of Directors. The Taskforce shall be comprised of the following 10 Members: HWD; Alan Rosenberg, Anne-Marie Johnson, Clancy Brown, Morgan Fairchild, Ned Vaughn, NY; Sam Freed, Mike Hodge, Matt Servitto, RBD; Mike Pniewski, Nancy Duerr, and 10 Alternates (to attend only if needed and at request of absent member): HWD; Stacey Travis, Leigh French, Jane Austin, NY; John Rothman, Sam Robards, RBD: Roy Costley, Molly Ballard, Abby Dylan, Katherine Howell, Mary McDonald-Lewis. The Taskforce will work with the Chief Negotiator, John McGuire, with the assistance of Ray Rodriguez and any staff of their choosing, to complete these negotiations and bring their recommendations back to the National Board.

VI. Effective immediately, no one other than the Interim National Executive Director and John T. McGuire, or their designee, is authorized to communicate on behalf of Screen Actors Guild to other organizations, the general public or the press on any subjects whatsoever, including the actions contained in this document. This pertains to all SAG staff and elected officers.

VII. Michelle Bennett and all staff in the Governance Department, under guidance from the Guild’s general counsel, are hereby instructed to develop and implement a fraud-proof security system to regulate the use of the voting remotes used by Board members to cast their votes.

VIII. Effective immediately, the Guild retains the law firm of Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers LLP to advise the National Board and represent the Guild in negotiation of the terms of a written contract with David White. The Guild further authorizes the payment of $10,000 to Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers LLP as a deposit toward costs and fees incurred by the Guild, with the balance to be refunded to the Guild upon the termination of the firm’s services.

IX. If any of the actions contained herein is deemed unenforceable under the Constitution and Bylaws of the Guild, all other actions shall remain valid and shall be implemented.

X. These actions are being authorized by separate written agreements of a majority of the members of the National Board of Directors pursuant to Article V, Section 1. (J.) (4.) of the SAG Constitution and Bylaws.

As provided for by Article V, Section 1. (J.) (4.) of the SAG Constitution and Bylaws, I hereby give my written assent to the foregoing resolution in its entirety.

Signature __________________________________ Date ____________________

Board Member (Print Name) ___________________________________

Division ____________________________

Vote Weight ________

SAG Moderates File Document to Fire National Executive Director

Posted: 26 Jan 2009 12:06 PM PST

The civil war at the Screen Actors Guild has gone nuclear. As expected, the moderates on the SAG National Board today delivered a document to SAG headquarters that ousts Doug Allen as National Executive Director and dissolves the negotiating committee. Allen is replaced by two people: SAG’s former General Counsel David White as interim NED and SAG Senior Advisor John McGuire as Chief Negotiator. Guild president Alan Rosenberg is unmentioned in the document and would remain in place until his term ends in September.

The document, called a written assent, is signed by a majority of SAG’s national board (including Unite for Strength board members and most or all others who are not part of Membership First), as provided for in SAG’s constitution. The question now becomes whether SAG will accede to the assent, as it were. SAG will probably try to find some deficiency in the document, which I haven’t examined as it has not been released. Ultimately, I’d expect a lawsuit. This process will not be quick.

The SAG moderates’ statement is below.


A Message to Members from the SAG National Board Majority

Today we took an important and necessary action to address the leadership crisis at Screen Actors Guild. Representatives from SAG’s National Board majority delivered a “written assent” document to SAG headquarters which authorized the following: Doug Allen is immediately replaced as National Executive Director by former SAG General Counsel David White, who will serve as interim NED; Guild Senior Advisor John T. McGuire is appointed as Chief Negotiator of all SAG contracts; the TV/Theatrical Contract Negotiating Committee is replaced by a Taskforce which will complete negotiations on behalf of the Board of Directors.

In a meeting two weeks ago, a majority of the board sought to make the crucial changes now contained in the written assent, but were derailed by President Alan Rosenberg and a minority of board members through endless parliamentary games and improper behavior. By filibustering for over 28 straight hours, they prevented the Board from ever taking a vote on the majority’s proposal.

This unprecedented level of obstruction has paralyzed the Guild.

Written assent is included in SAG’s constitution to allow a majority of the Board to take action outside the boardroom if necessary. While extraordinary circumstances may require the use of written assent, we do not believe it is a desirable way to conduct Guild business. In this case, the unrelenting obstruction by a minority of board members has left us no alternative.

This action has the support of all but one of the National Board members from SAG’S New York and Regional Branch Divisions, and all in the Hollywood Division except those affiliated with the group Membership First. The signed written assent documents were delivered today to SAG headquarters in Los Angeles .

Upon implementation of the approved motion, Interim National Executive Director David White will assume control of all Guild operations and will coordinate with Chief Negotiator John McGuire to contact the AMPTP to undertake resolution of TV/Theatrical Contract negotiations, which ground to a halt nearly seven months ago. The leaner TV/Theatrical Taskforce will work alongside Mr. McGuire as the “eyes and ears of the board,” providing input and support as contract negotiations are concluded.

Beyond the stalled TV/Theatrical negotiations, there is much work to be done and SAG members can rest assured that we have secured an exemplary leader in David White. A Rhodes Scholar, Mr. White has extensive industry experience and was SAG’s General Counsel from 2002 to 2006. He knows the Guild and its contracts, and has the respect of our staff and the entertainment community. Our Chief Negotiator, John McGuire, is a 40-year SAG staff veteran who has negotiated over 30 contracts and is held in enormous esteem throughout the industry and the labor movement. We have complete confidence in his ability to deliver the best possible contracts for our members.

These much needed changes will allow SAG to chart a new course. We will work to secure a TV/Theatrical Contract that can be sent to members with a positive recommendation, and to effectively resolve all our outstanding contracts, including the Commercials Contract. We will also work to rebuild vital relationships in the entertainment and labor communities, and to reestablish Screen Actors Guild as a respected and powerful institution, protecting and defending performers nationwide.


In its entirety, the written assent accomplishes the following:

– Removes Doug Allen as National Executive Director;

– Engages David White as interim National Executive Director;

– Names John McGuire as Chief Negotiator for all contracts, including the TV/Theatrical Contract currently in negotiation;

– Replaces the TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee with a Taskforce, which will represent the Board of Directors;

– Directs that only interim NED David White, John McGuire, or their designee may communicate on behalf of Screen Actors Guild to other organizations, the general public, or the press;

– Retains the law firm of Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers LLP to advise the National Board and represent the Guild in negotiation of the terms of a written contract with David White;

– In response to voting irregularities at the last Board meeting, instructs SAG staff to develop and implement a fraud-proof security system to regulate the use of the voting remotes used by Board members to cast their votes.

*In the interest of compliance with the AFTRA-SAG non-disparagement agreement under the AFL-CIO, Members of SAG’s National Board majority who are also AFTRA officers or board members wish to officially record themselves as abstaining from this statement. 


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: