Showbizreporting's Blog

August 11, 2010

DML – Court Case

Rosenberg v. SAG Lawsuit Dismissed

Posted: 10 Aug 2010 02:08 PM PDT

The lawsuit filed 1-1/2 years ago by SAG’s then-president Alan Rosenberg against his own union has finally been formally dismissed, according to court records and a source with knowledge of the matter. The formal dismissal actually came in late July, but appears not to have previously been reported. The dismissal was expected, as the judge had ruled on the matter a month earlier.

The action ends with a whimper a suit that attempted to reinstate SAG’s previous National Executive Director, Doug Allen, and impede the ultimate achievement of the 2009 agreement between SAG and the studios and producers.

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November 2, 2009

Appeal Strikes Out

Variety

Rosenberg appeal strikes out
Three-judge panel upholds SAG moves
By DAVE MCNARY, Variety

Former Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg has struck out again in court in his long-running attempt to overturn moves by SAG’s national board to fire Doug Allen and abolish SAG’s negotiating committee.
A three-judge appeals court panel on Tuesday denied Rosenberg’s appeal of a February ruling by a state judge turning down Rosenberg’s request for a temporary restraining order. In a 21-page ruling, Judges Nora Manella, Steven Suzukawa and Thomas Willhite asserted the appeal had been rendered “moot” by subsequent actions of the SAG board and its members.

Rosenberg wasn’t available to comment. Duncan Crabtree Ireland, SAG’s deputy national exec director and general counsel, said in response, “The court’s decision speaks for itself, and Screen Actors Guild will have no further comment.”

Rosenberg and board members Anne-Marie Johnson, Diane Ladd and Kent McCord had filed the suit against SAG and the 41 board members, alleging that they had illegally used a “written assent” maneuver on Jan. 26 to oust Allen and the feature-primetime negotiating committee. Rosenberg had led a 28-hour filibuster at the SAG board meeting on Jan. 12-13 to block a vote to fire Allen, prompting the moderates to take the “written assent” route.

A few days after the suit was filed, the moderates fired Allen for a second time in a regular board meeting.

“We conclude that the appeal has been rendered moot by the decision of the majority of the board on Feb. 9 to ratify and readopt the provisions of the written assent and by the subsequent decision by SAG members to accept the contract negotiated pursuant to the board’s Feb. 9 vote,” the judges wrote.

SAG members endorsed the feature-primetime deal in June with 78% backing — a surprisingly large margin that led Rosenberg to decide against seeking another term as president.

Rosenberg also alleged that the moves should be overturned due to procedural irregularities at the February meeting but the judges said they could find no such violations. And the panel said it disagreed with Rosenberg’s contention that the issues surrounding the use of written assent are of “broad public interest,” with such disputes likely to recur within SAG.

“Nothing before us supports these contentions,” the judges said. “As the issues stem from an exceptional dispute now mooted by the board’s action (and the members vote), we discern no public interest to be served by resolving them.”

The judges also awarded SAG its costs for the appeal.

August 3, 2009

Campaign funds

Dear New York Member,

We are writing on behalf of United Screen Actors Nationwide – USAN. Since 2000, USAN has asked for your support and your votes, and you have given us both. Another SAG election is upon us. This election will determine the future of the Guild for years to come and that decision will have a direct effect on all of our livelihoods.

This year in New York, we once again face opposition from Alan Rosenberg and Anne Marie Johnson’s MembershipFirst faction in Hollywood and their surrogates in NY, running under the Trojan Horse heading of “SAGNOW“. If they regain their National Board majority, we will see more of our dues money spent on fighting AFTRA and their contracts, more “go it alone” negotiations, and the very likely re-hiring of Doug Allen as National Executive Director. Doug Allen and MembershipFirst failed to successfully negotiate even one of the eight contracts that were due in 2008, while spending over a million dollars of our dues money to try to convince us that they were doing a great job. Fortunately, we New Yorkers are not that gullible.

In the last year, the members of the NY Board, along with our allies in the Regional Branches, and our newly elected compatriots in Hollywood, took the steps necessary to oust Doug Allen. Allen’s and MembershipFirst’s, failed “destroy AFTRA” strategy led to the loss of many tens of millions of dollars in earnings under the Theatrical & TV Contract when those negotiations were dragged out for close to a year, and millions more lost under the Commercial Contract — which had to be extended for six months because of the prolonged Theatrical and TV negotiations. Add to those losses the damage done to our Pension and Health Fund.

The NY Board and our allies then fought to install a thoughtful and strategic national executive director (David White) and to successfully close both the Theatrical & TV and Commercial Contract negotiations and have them ratified by overwhelming numbers. We were also instrumental in closing the long-delayed Basic Cable Agreement and are currently working on negotiating new TV and Cable Animation contracts. This has all been accomplished since February.

USAN needs not only your votes, we need your contributions to run a campaign that will ensure that we can continue the progress we have made this year. The MembershipFirst/SAGNOW slate is very well funded. We need to be too.

If you believe, as we do, that the best hope for the future of professional performers in NY and across this country lies in eliminating the insanity of multiple unions representing us for the same work, and that the most reasonable way to accomplish that is by working to merge our unions, rather than driving them apart, then please consider contributing your money and your time to this campaign, so that we can continue to take the steps to get us there. We welcome any help you can give us.

The candidates that USAN are asking you to support include National Officer candidates:

Ken Howard – President
Amy Aquino – Secretary/Treasurer

And this year’s NY Nominating Committee candidates, who represent a diverse cross-section of the NY membership and work experience are:

New York Division President:
Mike Hodge

For the New York Board:
Liz Zazzi, Manny Alfaro, Dave Bachman, Marc Baron,
Justin Barrett, Sam Freed, Sheila Head, Joe Narciso,
Jay Potter, John Rothman, Kevin Scullin,
Monica Trombetta, and Sharon Washington

You can make contributions by credit card or PayPal through our website (personal credit card only – no corporate cards). If you wish to send a check please message us for instructions.

Please help any way you can. And please forward this to your friends who may be affected. All of our livelihoods are at stake.

Thanks in advance for your help,

Sam Freed,
Current NY Division President – NY Board Candidate

Mike Hodge,
Current NY Division Vice-President – NY Division Presidential Candidate

July 21, 2009

DGA to Rosenberg: Go Away Already!

DGA to Rosenberg: Go away already

Michael Apted slams SAG president

The Directors Guild of America has told Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg to shut up and go away.

That’s the sentiment expressed by outgoing DGA president Michael Apted in a blunt letter responding to Rosenberg’s request for a summit meeting of the town’s unions about the 2011 round of negotiations.

Rosenberg pledged he would make such an effort on June 9, in the aftermath of SAG members’ ratification of the feature-primetime contract. But, in a letter sent Wednesday, Apted made it abundantly clear that Rosenberg’s relentless criticism of the DGA has been so out of line that the DGA’s not remotely interested in any such get-together.

Apted noted that under “normal circumstances,” such a summit meeting to discuss negotiations could take place — but without public proclamations announcing the meeting first.

“Of course, these are not normal circumstances,” Apted said. “Since June 9, I’ve seen repeated statements in the press regarding your intention to call a meeting, yet Monday’s email is the first time you’ve made any effort to contact me in over 18 months. In addition, you’ve repeatedly, and in my opinion unfraternally, attacked the negotiations and contracts of the DGA and other unions in the press and other public forums. So, in the circumstances, I’m very surprised that you would consider yourself to be in a position to convene an event that requires trust and fraternity to have any chance of success.”

Apted concluded the letter by saying, “On behalf of the DGA, I respectfully decline your request.”

Rosenberg told Daily Variety he was disappointed over Apted’s response.

“It’s a shame that what had been a private communication has become public,” he said. “I’m disappointed that Michael Apted doesn’t share my belief in the importance of building unity among the unions because our collective efforts should be towards obtaining a decent deal in two years. What’s happened at past negotiations doesn’t really matter now.”

The SAG president’s power to speak officially on behalf of the guild was taken away in late January as part of the move by the board’s moderates to oust former SAG national exec director Doug Allen.

But there’s been bad blood between the guilds dating back to Jan. 29, 2008 — when Rosenberg and Allen blasted the DGA’s tentative contract agreement with the majors, which eventually served as the template for the WGA, AFTRA and SAG contracts. Rosenberg and Allen criticized many of the specifics of the deal in a message sent to SAG members.

Apted responded on the same day by accusing SAG of throwing a monkey wrench into the talks between the WGA and majors that would ultimately settle the scribes’ 100-day walkout.

“Their letter has one purpose and one purpose only: to interfere with the informal talks currently under way between the WGA and the studios,” Apted said at the time. “Simply put, their assumptions and arguments are specious. The DGA deal is a great deal for our members.”

AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said last week that there had been no movement toward a summit meeting. She had proposed the idea a year ago but said last Friday that she’d wait until after the SAG elections in September before exploring such a step.

An AFTRA rep said that Los Angeles Local President Ron Morgan received an invitation earlier this week from Rosenberg to meet at his home on Aug. 3 to discuss “building solidarity” between the entertainment labor unions. But she added that AFTRA leaders won’t be available.

“AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon never received an invitation,” the rep added. “The entire AFTRA leadership team will be in Chicago from Monday, August 3 through Sunday, August 9 for the Convention and other related union meetings, which have been scheduled for more than a year.”

WGA West spokesman Neal Sacharow said that WGA West president Patric Verrone — who will be termed out of office in September — will attend the Aug. 3 meeting at Rosenberg’s home. Besides Apted, Verrone and Morgan, Rosenberg also invited Michael Miller, VP of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

“The refrain I heard most often during this past negotiating season is that we had to ‘build solidarity between our organizations’ in preparation for 2011,” Rosenberg said in the invite. “I would like to invite you to what, I hope, will be the first in a series of informal, discussions designed to create that unity. In general, I would like to explore those areas where we share common ground, and how we might develop strategies that will benefit our respective members.”

July 17, 2009

DGA tell Rosenberg

Speaks volumes about the future.

Michael Apted slams SAG president – By Dave McNary July 17. 2009

The Directors Guild of America has told Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg to shut up and go away.

That’s the sentiment expressed by outgoing DGA president Michael Apted in a blunt letter responding to Rosenberg’s request for a summit meeting of the town’s unions about the 2011 round of negotiations.

Rosenberg pledged he would make such an effort on June 9, in the aftermath of SAG members’ ratification of the feature-primetime contract. But, in a letter sent Wednesday, Apted made it abundantly clear that Rosenberg’s relentless criticism of the DGA has been so out of line that the DGA’s not remotely interested in any such get-together.

Apted noted that under “normal circumstances,” such a summit meeting to discuss negotiations could take place — but without public proclamations announcing the meeting first.

“Of course, these are not normal circumstances,” Apted said. “Since June 9, I’ve seen repeated statements in the press regarding your intention to call a meeting, yet Monday’s email is the first time you’ve made any effort to contact me in over 18 months. In addition, you’ve repeatedly, and in my opinion unfraternally, attacked the negotiations and contracts of the DGA and other unions in the press and other public forums. So, in the circumstances, I’m very surprised that you would consider yourself to be in a position to convene an event that requires trust and fraternity to have any chance of success.”

Apted concluded the letter by saying, “On behalf of the DGA, I respectfully decline your request.”

Rosenberg told Daily Variety he was disappointed over Apted’s response.

“It’s a shame that what had been a private communication has become public,” he said. “I’m disappointed that Michael Apted doesn’t share my belief in the importance of building unity among the unions because our collective efforts should be towards obtaining a decent deal in two years. What’s happened at past negotiations doesn’t really matter now.”

The SAG president’s power to speak officially on behalf of the guild was taken away in late January as part of the move by the board’s moderates to oust former SAG national exec director Doug Allen.

But there’s been bad blood between the guilds dating back to Jan. 29, 2008 — when Rosenberg and Allen blasted the DGA’s tentative contract agreement with the majors, which eventually served as the template for the WGA, AFTRA and SAG contracts. Rosenberg and Allen criticized many of the specifics of the deal in a message sent to SAG members.

Apted responded on the same day by accusing SAG of throwing a monkey wrench into the talks between the WGA and majors that would ultimately settle the scribes’ 100-day walkout.

“Their letter has one purpose and one purpose only: to interfere with the informal talks currently under way between the WGA and the studios,” Apted said at the time. “Simply put, their assumptions and arguments are specious. The DGA deal is a great deal for our members.”

AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said last week that there had been no movement toward a summit meeting. She had proposed the idea a year ago but said last Friday that she’d wait until after the SAG elections in September before exploring such a step.

The WGA said it has not been approached by Rosenberg about such a summit meeting.

An AFTRA rep said that Los Angeles Local President Ron Morgan received an invitation earlier this week from Rosenberg to meet at his home on Aug. 3 to discuss “building solidarity” between the entertainment labor unions. But she added that AFTRA leaders won’t be available.

“AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon never received an invitation,” the rep added. “The entire AFTRA leadership team will be in Chicago from Monday, August 3 through Sunday, August 9 for the Convention and other related union meetings, which have been scheduled for more than a year.”

WGA West spokesman Neal Sacharow said Thursday, “The WGA has not been approached by Alan Rosenberg about such a summit meeting.”

June 5, 2009

A letter from Rosenberg

June 3, 2009

Variety: SAG Mailing Out Ballots May 19 – Guild To Vote on Feature-Primetime Contract (APR. 29, 2009)

 

SAG mailing out ballots May 19

Guild to vote on feature-primetime contract

By DAVE MCNARY

 

SAG will mail out its feature-primetime contract ratification ballots to members May 19, with a return date of June 9. That means nearly a year will have passed between the time the ballots will be tallied and the June 30, 2008, expiration of the previous contract.

SAG originally said it would send out ballots in early May, but the guild needed more time to prepare the pro and con statements going out with the ballot to its 120,000 members.

The year of the contract impasse has been marked by explosive internal battles over the pact, between the hardline Membership First faction and a moderate coalition that gained a narrow majority on the national board in the fall — including January’s firing of national exec director Doug Allen for allegedly botching negotiations. The two sides are jockeying for political leverage in the next round of SAG elections in September, with Membership First bitterly opposing the deal.

SAG’s national board approved the two-year deal April 19 with a 53% endorsement. Backers touted the pact for keeping SAG in synch with the DGA, WGA and AFTRA expirations in 2011, and bringing about much-needed stability plus pay raises to thesps, along with blasting Membership First for being unrealistic in its aggressive approach to negotiations.

For its part, Membership First staged a demonstration Wednesday in Pasadena to protest the hiring of an outside PR firm, Saylor Co., to persuade members to approve the contract agreement. About 60 attended the event, including Tony Danza and former SAG president Ed Asner.

Opponents of the deal have asserted that the growth of new-media precludes accepting the same template as the WGA, DGA and AFTRA. They’ve contended that voting the deal down would force the congloms to offer SAG better terms — though the congloms have insisted for the past year that they will not sweeten the deal.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118003002.html

Daily Variety: Opponets ~ SAG could lose vote Members to weigh in on feature-primetime deal (MAR. 23, 2009)

 

Opponents: SAG could lose vote

Members to weigh in on feature-primetime deal

By DAVE MCNARY

 

Opponents of SAG’s tentative feature-primetime deal have declared that guild members will vote the pact down — as long as the turnout rate’s higher than the traditional 30%.

“The more people that we can get to vote, the better chance we have to get this voted down,” said Scott Wilson, organizer of a last-minute antiratification rally Thursday. “I think we have a real chance to defeat this if we can get the information out to the members.”

About 60 opponents attended the picketing outside the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. Attendees included national board member France Nuyen, Tom Bower and David Jolliffe, who headed SAG’s negotiating committee before it was abolished in January.

It’s uncertain what would happen if the deal went down to defeat, although opponents contend that such a move would force the congloms to offer SAG better terms in new media. The AMPTP’s insisted that SAG has to accept terms that are equivalent to those in the WGA, DGA and AFTRA deals and emphasized the final offer’s generous amid the current recession.

“We are the last man standing,” Wilson said of SAG. “The other unions have all rolled over.”

Wilson’s staged about a dozen rallies since the board replaced the negotiating committee and fired Doug Allen as national exec director out of frustration over his failure to close a deal. Ballots will go out early next month to SAG’s 120,000 members, with a return date three weeks later.

SAG’s national board approved the tentative deal Sunday by a narrow margin, with 53% backing the pact as the moderate side prevailed. Jolliffe admitted that SAG members are “war-weary” of the issues but agreed with Wilson’s forecast of a defeat.

“If we can get above 30%, we’ll defeat it,” Jolliffe added.

New York board member Paul Christie disagreed with that assessment.

“When the film version of Marat/SAG is greenlighted, they will serve as the Greek chorus howling at the moon and praying for a strike somewhere in the universe,” Christie said. “They are alone in their belief as usual.”

The antiratification forces, which include SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg and former president Ed Asner, are planning a May 3 rally at Griffith Park.

In SAG’s previous contract ratification vote in 2005, 76% of thesps who voted endorsed the deal despite opposition from the hardline Membership First faction. About 30%, or 35,000 members out of 119,000, returned ballots.

Membership First, Rosenberg and Allen tried unsuccessfully to derail AFTRA’s ratification of its primetime deal last summer — contending that it fell short in new media and a wide variety of other areas — after the sister union split from joint negotiations with SAG. The contract received backing from 62% of those voting, although AFTRA’s refused to disclose how many of its 70,000 members voted.

Proponents of the SAG deal have already emphasized that ratification will dispel the uncertainty that working without a contract has caused and tweaked Rosenberg and Allen for deleveraging SAG by alienating AFTRA. SAG’s deal includes a 3.5% annual hike in minimums — a 3% salary hike in the first year plus a 0.5% gain in pension and health contributions in the first year and a 3.5% salary increase in the second.

Allen’s replacements — David White as interim national exec director and John McGuire — were able to persuade the AMPTP to relent on its demand for a full three-year deal, keeping the expiration date of June 2011 in line with those for the DGA, WGA and AFTRA pacts.

Link – http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118002789.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2562

VARIETY: SAG PR BATTLES BEGINS: GUILD MEMBERS TO GET PITCHES, BALLOTS (APR. 22, 2009)

 

SAG PR battle begins

Guild members to get pitches, ballots

By 

 

Supporters of SAG’s tentative feature-primetime deal are appealing to the guild’s middle-class actors — and blaming the hardliners for the delay — as the first salvos start in what’s expected to be a bitter battle over ratification of the pact.

Ballots will go out early next month, with a return date three weeks later; specific dates are not yet set. In a message sent Wednesday to New York members, SAG second VP Sam Freed contended the pact will dispel the pervasive ambiguity that’s dogged showbiz since SAG’s master contract expired nearly 10 months ago.

“Ratification will not only guarantee increases in terms and conditions but it will end the uncertainty that working without a contract has caused,” Freed said. “Production can gear up once again, and we can get back to work. The recent changes that your board has made are bearing fruit.”

Freed’s message is a clear swipe at opponents of the pact, led by SAG president Alan Rosenberg and the Membership First Coalition, who have insisted for the past year that SAG has to achieve sweeter terms than the other Hollywood unions — particularly in new media. Rosenberg’s repeatedly criticized the board moderates for failing to present a unified voice during the negotiations.

A moderate coalition gained control of the national board from the hardliners in the fall, fired Doug Allen as SAG topper in January for allegedly botching the negotiations and endorsed the new deal Sunday with 53.6% support. Freed noted that Allen’s replacements — David White as interim national exec director and John McGuire — had been able to persuade the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers to relent on its demand for a full three-year deal, keeping the expiration date of June 2011 in line with those for the DGA, WGA and AFTRA pacts.

“Because of the prolonged period of these negotiations, this contract has a term of only two years,” Freed said. “This was a hard-fought concession that will allow our contract to expire with our sister unions and permit the option of joint negotiations in the future.”

Meanwhile, the deal’s opponents are gearing up their antiratification campaign with a rally today outside the AMPTP headquarters, followed by a gathering at a yet-to-be-determined location during the May 2-3 weekend.

The proponents will likely point to the loss of an estimated $67 million in actor pay gains as a result of Membership First’s refusal to accept the AMPTP’s offer last summer.

Freed said the gains achieved in the deal go directly to the needs of the middle-class actor amid the recession.

“Raises in minimums, increases in major-role performer premiums and the increases in residuals for primetime series reruns represent real dollars in members’ pockets,” he said. “There is a 0.5% increase in pension and health contributions bringing the total contribution to 15%, a gain made even more significant given the state of our economy and the hits our funds have taken. Jurisdiction is awarded in new media with the establishment of a residual structure. A residual formula is created for movie and television downloads that represents an increase over the DVD formula.”

SAG’s deal includes a 3.5% annual hike in minimums — a 3% salary hike in the first year plus a 0.5% gain in pension and health contributions in the first year and a 3.5% salary increase in the second. AFTRA’s three-year deal, unsuccessfully opposed last summer by Rosenberg and Membership First, contains similar provisions but with an addititional year of increases.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118002748.html

DAVE MCNARY

THR: SAG HANDING OUT PINK SLIPS (APR. 21, 2009)

SAG handing out pink slips

35 employees affected as part of ‘expense reductions’

By Jay A. Fernandez

April 20, 2009, 09:43 PM ET

One day after its national board approved a new TV-theatrical contract, SAG said it plans to lay off about 35 employees, or about 8% of the staff.

“To close a gap between the guild’s expected revenue and costs in the upcoming fiscal year budget, SAG is undertaking a number of expense reductions, including the elimination of some staff positions,” SAG spokesperson Pamela Greenwalt said Monday. “This is a difficult but necessary step that must be taken to responsibly address the fiscal realities confronting our organization.”

On Saturday, the national board approved a $60 million annual budget even as it contends with a $6.5 million operating deficit for fiscal 2009.

The pink slips come at a tumultuous time for the union, which has suffered from a year of destructive internal political struggles, declining revenue from dues and investments, a slowdown in film work for actors as guild leadership negotiated the TV-theatrical contract and a flood of TV pilots that moved to AFTRA coverage.

“I have asked all employees nationwide to convene tomorrow morning so that I, and our executive team, can speak directly to you about this situation and its consequences,” interim national executive director David White said Monday in a staff memo.

Under the leadership of SAG president Alan Rosenberg and ousted NED Doug Allen, the union’s staff grew to about 440 employees. According to SAGWatch.net, which dug up the union’s recent financial reports filed with the Department of Labor, SAG spent slightly less than $81 million in 2005-06, about $94 million in 2006-07 and cleared $100 million in 2007-08.

As the blog points out, that’s an increase in spending of 26% that is unmatched by a parallel increase in revenue.

Meanwhile, the union missed out on $60-plus million in pay increases as a result of rejecting the TV-theatrical offer that had been sitting on the table since June.

SAG national organizing director Todd Amorde left his post last week, though that appears unrelated to this downsizing.

 

Link – http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3i5d08aae04387a06db5247b7c1e11180a

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