Showbizreporting's Blog

September 20, 2009

DML SAG VP Video

AMJ: If I’m Elected, David White is Out

Posted: 18 Sep 2009 01:26 PM PDT

In a campaign video, Membership First’s candidate for SAG president, Anne-Marie Johnson says that one her first proposals as new president would be to recommend to the national board that “a search committee be seated . . . immediately” to replace SAG interim National Executive Director David White. Ousted NED Doug Allen would “probably” not come back.

That’s the same David White under whose administration (and chief negotiator John McGuire) multiple SAG collective bargaining agreements were finally signed, including the two largest: the TV/theatrical contract, which Membership First stalemated for a year, and the commercials contract, which was delayed by that stalemate. In contrast, Membership First, under the Doug Allen administration, closed no deals at all.

Johnson justifies her position by asserting White has made clear he was solely the interim NED, but that seems misleading: so far as I’m aware, White never said he didn’t want the job on a permanent basis. So far as I’m aware, White has never taken a public position on this one way or the other.

So if AMJ wants White out, would Doug Allen be coming back? Johnson says she has “no idea.” After praising Allen, she goes on the speculate that he’s doing other things and would “probably not be available for the job.”

The video is about 9 minutes long; the discussion of the NED begins about 3 minutes into it and continues for several minutes.

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

DIGITAL MEDIA LAW: SAG TV/Theatrical Ballots Later Than Expected; SAG Litigation Continues; and More (APR. 29, 2009)

 

Digital Media Law

 

SAG TV/Theatrical Ballots Later Than Expected; SAG Litigation Continues; and More

Posted: 29 Apr 2009 02:19 AM PDT

The ballots for SAG’s recently approved TV/theatrical contract won’t be going out until mid to late May, a source tells me, several weeks later than the early May target that the Guild stated as recently as a week or so ago. That means that ratification, if achieved as expected, will not come until early to mid June, since balloting is expected to be a three week process.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that writing the pro and con statements has only just begun. That process takes a week, and then another week is allowed for rebuttal statements to be written.

(BTW, a copy of the proposed TV/theatrical agreement is available here. I’ve not yet done an analysis, but in the meantime you can read SAGWatch’s.)

Meanwhile, ballots for the commercials contract will be mailed to both SAG and AFTRA members Thursday, and due back May 21, reports Variety. It’s expected to pass easily. In contrast, the TV/theatrical contract will probably pass with a yes vote in the 60%-75% range, roughly in the neighborhood of the AFTRA deal, which achieved 62%. Only a simple majority (i.e., just over 50%) is required.

In other SAG news, Unite for Strength revealed in a Facebook email several days ago that the force majeure compromise is 33 cents on the dollar. “Force majeure” refers to arbitration claims on behalf of about 500 actors for a portion of wages lost due to the 2007-2008 Writer Guild strike. The claims amount to about $63 million, and, thus, the total settlement is about $21 million. I’m told SAG members will get checks several weeks after the agreement is ratified.

That settlement amount—33 cents on the dollar—is on the low side, but that was a tradeoff. SAG wants its contract to expire in mid-2011, to synch up with the WGA, AFTRA, and DGA. That’s an issue created by the ten-month delay that the hardline Membership First faction inflicted on the union; without the delay, the deals would have synched up as a matter of course. To get synchronicity at this late date, SAG had to give something up.

Remember also that the claims are under arbitration. SAG could have gotten zero cents on the dollar if the arbitration had proceeded; or it could have prevailed altogether. With that much uncertainty, a settlement in the 50% range might have been expected. That would have yielded a total of about $31 million, rather than $21 million. So, it’s a reasonable conclusion that SAG gave up about $10 million in order to get the synchronized expiration date—and prompt payment to the affected members.

The Guild also had to agree to modify the TV-related force majeure language in a way that reduces the likelihood of future force majeure claims. To put this in context, though, I’m told there has never been an industry-wide force majeure claim before. The studios obviously want to avoid seeing one again, not only to reduce their costs, but also to decrease the strength by which SAG members would support a writers strike in the future. (In other words, if actors have to bear the entire cost of their own lost wages, they may be less likely to enthusiastically support a strike by a sister union.)

Speaking of lost wages, I also have a couple of factoids on the SAG layoffs: the total number of people laid off was 36 (not 35, as previously reported), with an additional 26 unfilled positions that will remain unfilled. That’s a total reduction in force of 62 positions, and the annual savings to the Guild is $2.5 million in salaries ($4 million if bonuses and other factors are included).

Moving from lost wages to lost causes, there are developments in the lawsuit filed against SAG by the union’s own president, Alan Rosenberg, and his fellow Membership First plaintiffs 1st VP Anne-Marie-Johnson and board members Diane Ladd and Kent McCord. That suit, as you may rather have forgotten, seeks to unseat the TV/theatrical negotiating task force, as well as interim National Executive Director David White and Chief Negotiator John McGuire. That group—plus the commercials negotiating committee—is the team that managed to close two deals in as many months, while MF closed nothing at all over several years.

The lawsuit, in my opinion, hasn’t got a Popsicle’s chance in hell. After all, what judge is going to unwind a twice-ratified union leadership change? Incredibly, the lawsuit proceeds on not one but two tracks, since there are now both a trial court action and a concurrent appeal. Rosenberg’s and his co-plaintiffs’ solicitude for the members apparently includes spending their money on pointless multi-pronged litigation—understandably, since abandoning the litigation before this summer’s SAG election would be no boon to MF’s election prospects. Indeed, if MF ever wins control of the Board again, you can expect a motion to have SAG reimburse Rosenberg et al. for their no doubt considerable litigation costs.

In any case, there are developments on two fronts. In the trial court, SAG filed its Answer to the plaintiffs’ first amended complaint. A variety of defenses are asserted, including that the complaint is moot (because the SAG Board re-fired the previous NED, Doug Allen, at a meeting, after having first done so by a written assent document), interferes with the union’s right of self-governance, and is barred by the wrongful acts of Rosenberg and his co-plaintiffs (this presumably refers to the 28-hour filibuster over which Rosenberg presided in an attempt to prevent Allen from being fired).

Meanwhile, in the Court of Appeal, Rosenberg & co. filed their Appellant’s Opening Brief several days ago, accompanied by multi-volume, multi-hundred page appendices of documents. The arguments are simply a rehash of the arguments Rosenberg and his co-plaintiffs made in the trial court–which were rejected not only by the trial court judge, but also in an earlier appeal. Yes, the current appeal is actually the second, and the case is only three months old.

What next? As the name implies, the Appellant’s Opening Brief is the first brief in the appeal. The next few weeks will see the filing of the respondent’s brief (SAG’s brief) and the reply brief (in which Rosenberg et al. get to reply to SAG’s brief). Then comes oral argument, unless the court decides to proceed based on the briefs alone (which I think the court has the right to do, but I’m not sure).

For those who find appellate work dry and lifeless (it’s all briefs and legal arguments, with no witnesses or jury), the trial court action will grind on as well, doubtless with demurrers, a motion to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, depositions, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and all of the other costly accoutrement of modern-day litigation. Actually, that’s pretty dry and lifeless too. This could go on for months, providing amusement to everyone except SAG’s accountants. As in entertainment, so too in litigation: the show must go on.

———————

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

From AFTRA themselves (APR. 23, 2009)


April 2009

Joint AFTRA and SAG National Board of Directors Approves New Commercials Contracts for Ratification

Meeting by videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York, the Joint SAG-AFTRA National Board today voted unanimously to approve and recommend to members, new three-year successor agreements to the 2006 AFTRA Television and Radio Commercials Contracts and the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Television Commercials Contract.

The proposed agreements, which cover performers working in commercials made for and reused on television, radio, the Internet, and new media, will net a three-year increase in payments to performers totaling an estimated $36 million, including approximately $21 million in increased contributions to the SAG Pension & Health and AFTRA Health & Retirement plans. The total combined value of the AFTRA and SAG contracts is projected at more than $2.9 billion for working performers, including actors, singers, dancers, choreographers, stunt persons, and extras.

Additionally, the new contracts contain an agreement in principle outlining terms for a pilot study for the purpose of testing the Gross Rating Points (GRP) model of restructuring compensation to performers as proposed by Booz & Co. The two-year study will be conducted by a jointly retained consultant engaged by the unions and the industry. The study will be paid for by grants from Screen Actors Guild-Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund (IACF) and the AFTRA-Industry Cooperative Fund (AICF).

The unions also successfully established a first-ever payment structure in commercials for the Internet and other new media platforms. The unions established jurisdiction over commercial work made for the Internet in 2000, and new media formats in 2006. The new payment structure goes into effect in the third year of the contract.

The referendum will be mailed to the members of both unions next week (dual SAG and AFTRA members will receive one ballot) with a return date in mid-May. Results will be announced at that time.

Following the vote, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and AFTRA Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee said: “Our new agreement is a major achievement in any economy, but it is especially crucial for union members working to make ends meet in today’s difficult marketplace. I applaud the vision and hard work of the joint committee who worked together to win increases both in performers’ minimum compensation and in employer contributions to our health and pension plans, and who successfully preserved Class A payments so critically important to our members around the country.”

Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg said: “I am pleased and gratified to have achieved these gains and to recommend this agreement for ratification. I congratulate all of the parties, and particularly the co-chairs, committee members and staff on the remarkable gains they achieved for actors across the country.”

“It’s a solid agreement with meaningful gains,” said Screen Actors Guild Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee Sue-Anne Morrow. “There are significant improvements in compensation and benefits for union commercial actors and it gives the industry, including our members, a measure of financial certainty in an uncertain economy. It also guarantees advertisers continued access to the finest actors in the world on whose talent their brand success often rests. It’s a win for actors, a win for the industry, and a win for consumers.”

Screen Actors Guild Chief Negotiator John McGuire, a veteran of more than 10 separate commercials contracts negotiations said: “This is an agreement we can all be proud of and I look forward to ratification by the members of Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. I commend the negotiating committee chairs, co-chairs, and members, along with my colleagues Ray Rodriguez, Screen Actors Guild’s Deputy National Executive Director of Contracts, and Mathis Dunn, AFTRA’s Chief Negotiator.”

“This is a successful conclusion to a challenging negotiation, conducted during a difficult economic and technological time in the industry. As always, that success rests with the members of our joint committee, our staff and our counterparts at the Joint Policy Committee. Together, we served the interests of actors and the industry,” McGuire added.

AFTRA Assistant National Executive Director Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., who served as AFTRA Chief Negotiator, noted: “I commend all of our union members who participated in the many educational, informational, and wages and working conditions meetings leading up to these negotiations. They delivered a clear message to our joint negotiating committee on their priority issues. I am proud to say that we delivered on these priorities and much more. The agreement will enhance the careers of all working performers today, and protect future generations of union members as technology and consumer tastes shift in the radically changing world of new media.”

Highlights of the new agreement include:

Three-year agreement, term effective April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012, upon ratification by members of both unions.
5.5% overall increase in wages and other compensation over the life of the contracts, including a 4.43% increase, effective April 1, 2009, in Class A, Wild Spot, and basic cable session and use fees.
For product moved over to the Internet or in New Media, compensation of 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 weeks of use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use.
For product made for the Internet or New Media, a new minimum rate structure of 1.3 times the minimum session fee for 8 weeks of use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use, effective in the third year of the contract.
0.5% increases in the employer contribution rate to the AFTRA H&R and SAG P&H plans, and a 0.2% increase in employer contributions to the SAG Industry Advancement Cooperative Fund and the AFTRA-Industry Cooperative Fund, bringing the total contribution rate to 15.5%. Effective in year three, the agreement provides for a cap on P&H and H&R contributions for services covered by the contracts to $1 million per performer, per contract, per year with anticipated net gains in P&H and H&R over the term of the contract.
Secured five new covered jobs for commercial extras, up from 40 to 45.
Established new exclusivity compensation for made-for cable only commercials.
Instituted, for the first time, a contract provision to pay extras a round-trip mileage fee of $8.
Increased foreign use payments under the Spanish Language section of the contract.
The across the board increase under the AFTRA Radio Commercials Contract is 5.35%, in addition to contributions to AFTRA H&R and the AICF.
All of the unions’ proposals regarding diversity issues were addressed in the negotiations.
AFTRA and SAG joint member education and informational meetings will be conducted around the nation to provide members with an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the new agreements prior to voting.

Formal negotiations between the 26-member AFTRA/SAG Joint Negotiating Committee and the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) began on February 23 and concluded on the morning of April 1 in New York City.

About AFTRA
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audiobooks, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet, and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society.

About SAG
Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 actors who work in film, television, industrials, commercials, video games, music videos and other new media. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles.

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

Message from SAG’S NY DIVISION PRESIDENT SAM FREED (APR. 22, 2009)


Message from SAG’s New York Division President Sam Freed

Dear New York Guild Member,

There were two significant events this past weekend that will affect the
lives of New York actors and Guild members across the country.

On Saturday at a meeting of the joint board of SAG and AFTRA, there was a vote to send a proposed Commercials contract to our joint membership for ratification. This marks the conclusion of a successful effort of both our unions to negotiate together for the benefit of all of us. The proposal will come to you with a unanimous approval of the joint negotiating committee and a recommendation to vote “YES” from both institutions. Details of the contract will be provided with your ballot that you will receive in a few weeks.

On Sunday at a meeting of the SAG National Board, there was a vote to send a proposed TV/Theatrical contract to SAG members for ratification. This marks the end of an extended negotiation that has left us working without a contract since July 1 of last year. This contract will come to you with a recommendation to vote “YES” from both the Board and the recently constituted Negotiating Task Force that helped bring these negotiations to a conclusion.

You will receive detailed information about this contract along with your ballot. But in short the gains achieved go directly to the needs of the middle class actor. Raises in minimums, increases in major role performer premiums and the increases in residuals for primetime series reruns represent real dollars in member’s pockets. There is a .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 downloadsthat represents an increase over the DVD formula.

Because of the prolonged period of these negotiations this contract has a term of only two years. 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.

Lead Negotiator and Guild Senior Advisor John McGuire deserves much credit for getting these negotiations back on track and making improvements from the deal that was presented back in June of last year. David White, our new Interim NED, was instrumental in getting the AMPTP to move off their position of the term of the contract. The membership owes them much for their efforts.

Ballots for this contract will be sent20out in early May. You will have opportunities to learn more about the contract in consideration of your vote. Ratification will not only guarantee increases in terms and conditions but it will end the uncertainty that working without a contract has caused. Production can gear up once again and we can get back to work.

The recent changes that your Board has made are bearing fruit. We continue to move forward.

In
Solidarity,

Sam Freed
New York Division President

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

DIGITAL MEDIA LAW: SAG BOARD APPROVES STUDIO DEAL (APR. 20, 2009)

Digital Media Law
Monday, April 20, 2009
SAG Board Approves Studio Deal
 

Voting on party lines, a sharply divided SAG board approved the tentative deal with the studios yesterday by a vote of about 53% to 47%. The deal now goes to the membership for ratification, with a bruising fight promised by the hardline MembershipFirst faction. Ratification is nonetheless expected, and will mark an end to an almost ten month Hollywood stalemate.

Ballots will go out to the members in early May and will be due back three weeks later. The balloting material will be accompanied by both pro and con statements, and the fight over the deal will be a prelude to SAG’s presidential and board elections, which will commence in July and run through September. Current SAG president Alan Rosenberg has come out in opposition to the deal, while Ned Vaughn, leader of the moderate Unite for Strength group, told Variety that he favored a yes vote.

Although the deal is expected to be ratified, it won’t achieve the over 90% thumbs-up that the Writers Guild deal did last year. An approval in the 60%-70% range seems more likely, given that the AFTRA deal last year achieved only 62%, as a result of an ultimately futile anti-ratification campaign conducted by SAG.

Details and analysis of the deal are available here, and below are press releases from SAG, AFTRA (a rival actors union) and the AMPTP (the alliance representing the studios).

On a personal note, I had a surreal experience outside yesterday’s board meeting. As I talked to a board member who discussed his/her vehement opposition to product integration (a form of product placement, and an issue on which the new contract gives nothing to actors), another board member walked up and handed me a can of energy drink. I looked over and saw a marketing truck painted to look like a can of the drink and blaring rock music. In other words—product placement at SAG’s own board meeting! A bit of a surprise.

———————

SCREEN ACTORS GUILD NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPROVES TENTATIVE TELEVISION AND MOTION PICTURE CONTRACTS AND RECOMMENDS RATIFICATION

Los Angeles (April 19, 2009) – The Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors today voted 53.38 percent to 46.62 percent to approve and recommend to members, new, two-year successor agreements to the 2005 Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement and 2005 Screen Actors Guild Television Agreement.

The proposed agreement, covering actors in motion pictures and television delivers 3.5% effective annual increases comprised of a 3% wage increase and a .5% pension and health contribution increase upon ratification, and a 3.5% wage increase in year two.

The board passed the below motion shortly after 4:00 p.m. today:

It was moved and seconded that the National Board directs the Interim National Executive Director to send the tentative agreement between the Producers represented by the AMPTP and the Screen Actors Guild for successor agreements to the 2005 Producer–Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement and the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Television Agreement to the membership for ratification, with a recommendation from the Board to vote ‘Yes.’
Approved: 53.38% –46.62%

“I urge members to carefully review both the pros and cons in the referendum materials, and exercise their right to vote,” said Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg.

Interim National Executive Director David White said: “We are pleased that Screen Actors Guild members will soon be voting on a deal for television and motion pictures. We’re eager to get our members back to work and to focus now on the challenges ahead, particularly on initiating a comprehensive effort to thoughtfully plan for the future.

Our negotiating committee, task force and professional staff have worked countless hours on this agreement over the last year. On behalf of the National Board, I thank them for their time, commitment and expertise.”

Chief Negotiator John McGuire stated: “This tentative agreement delivers increased contributions to the SAG pension plan, increased minimums, a significant gain in background actor numbers from 50 to 55 over the term of the contract, and it tracks the new media provisions achieved by other entertainment industry unions. The term of the agreement puts SAG in sync with the other unions, and does not include the extended term recently proposed by the AMPTP.”

Provisions of the proposed deal include:
• A two-year term of agreement concluding June 30, 2011.
• Effective annual increases comprised of 3.0% in wage increases and .5% in pension contributions upon ratification, and a 3.5% wage increase one year following ratification.
• A new media structure that tracks those achieved by other industry unions, resulting in gains for actors including:
o Jurisdiction on all derivative, made-for new media productions; automatic jurisdiction on all high-budget, original, made-for new media productions; plus jurisdiction on low budget original, new media productions that employee at least 1 covered performer.
o Residuals for exhibition of TV and Theatrical motion pictures on consumer pay platforms (Electronic Sell Through) at a greater percentage than those paid for DVD distribution.
o Residuals for ad-supported streaming of feature films and television programs.
o Residuals for derivative new media programs.
• Additional 5 covered background actors in feature films. From 50 to 53 covered background positions upon ratification of the contract, and from 53 to 55 covered background positions in year 2. Adds 1 covered background position in TV, from 19 to 20, upon ratification.
• Increased compensation for guest star premium from 7.5% to 10%.
• Increased trailer money break from $2,500 to $3,000, or more per week.
• Increased overtime money break for three-day performers from $2,700 to $3,000.
Ratification ballots will be mailed to eligible SAG members in early May, with an expected return date at the end of the month. Tabulation will occur immediately upon the conclusion of balloting.
Bargaining for a successor agreement to the 2005 SAG TV/Theatrical Contract began on April 15, 2008.

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AFTRA Statement Regarding New Screen Actors Guild Film and Television

Agreement


The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists issued the following statement by President Roberta Reardon regarding the announcement that the Screen Actors Guild National Board has approved a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new SAG film and television contract.


“AFTRA congratulates our sister union, Screen Actors Guild, on its new tentative agreement with the AMPTP. I applaud the SAG Negotiating Task Force for bringing a strong contract to the SAG National Board for approval, and I commend the SAG National Board for its leadership in approving and recommending this contract for ratification by their membership.”


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Statement by the AMPTP


The new AMPTP-SAG agreement is the eighth major labor agreement reached by AMPTP since the start of 2008 and the 312th such agreement in AMPTP’s 27-year history. Because both sides were willing to compromise we now have an agreement that will provide SAG members with meaningful wage boosts, pension increases, first-class health benefits, and a complete set of new media rights and residuals. With this agreement in place, our entire industry can work together to overcome the enormous economic challenges before us.

http://digitalmedialaw.blogspot.com/2009/04/sag-board-approves-studio-deal.html

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