In a legal move that comes as no surprise, the union today moved to have the remaining elements of the multi-million dollar suit filed by former SAG President Ed Asner and the 15 other members of the self-titled United Screen Actors Committee tossed out of court. In filings (read them here and here) Wednesday in federal court, SAG-AFTRA lawyers said that the amended complaint by the plaintiffs is covered by federal labor law not state law as they are asserting and should be dismissed. The union also says Asner and the United Screen Committee, who first filed their suit on May 24, are over-reaching in their claims of representation. “While Plaintiffs can maintain a cause of action on their own behalf alleging that their own funds have been converted, Plaintiffs have no right to possession or transfer of amounts allegedly owed to others and therefore their claims for others must once again be dismissed,” says the motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s first amended complaint. A hearing on the dismissal and motion to strike is scheduled for January 6, 2014. That hearing could see this case come to an end or allow Asner and crew to file another amended complaint.
The initial suit may have been severely trimmed, but the multimillion-dollar lawsuit against SAG-AFTRA by former SAG president Ed Asner and the 15 members of the self-titled United Screen Actors Committee now has a trial date: June 24, 2014. District Judge Manuel Real set the date today (read it here), 10 days after the federal judge granted SAG-AFTRA’s motion to dismiss large portion of the suit over $130 million in allegedly improperly dispersed foreign residuals. The plaintiffs first filed their suit on May 24. The union has called the claims “completely without merit” and a “virtual verbatim restatement” of the 2007 class action by Ken Osmond of Leave It To Beaver fame and other actors accusing SAG of not properly paying out $8.1 million in overseas royalties. That case was resolved in 2010 with a settlement. Still, Judge Real did not cut residuals from the current case and has given three of the original 16 plaintiffs who opted out of the Osmond settlement the right to move forward on unpaid claims. The judge also kept the name of the union’s Executive Director David White and his past associations with a convicted fraudster in the suit, something SAG-AFTRA sought to strike. Plaintiff’s lawyer Helena Wise said last week that she also is thinking about launching an action of breach of fiduciary duty and corruption …
LOS ANGELES (Oct. 8, 2013) — SAG-AFTRA has agreed to a one-year extension of two of its legacy contracts for corporate, non-broadcast and educational work. The National Board of Directors ratified the agreement between the union and the Producers Group on Oct. 1 at its meeting in Los Angeles. The legacy AFTRA and SAG Corporate/Educational and Non-Broadcast Contracts, which were jointly negotiated in April 2011, were set to expire on April 30, 2014. The terms of the contracts have not changed. With the coming negotiations for the TV/Theatrical contract, the extension gives the union more time to prepare and gives members more opportunity to be involved in the run-up to the next negotiation. The Corporate/Educational and Non-Broadcast Contracts cover public relations, sales promotion and training films made for initial use to the general public, schools, conventions, seminars, museums, in retail stores and for Internet use.
A federal judge this morning has ruled that a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the union by former SAG president Ed Asner and the 15 members of the self-titled United Screen Actors Committee will not go forward in its original form. In a hearing downtown, Judge Manuel Real granted large portions of SAG AFTRA‘s motion to dismiss the lawsuit over $130 million in allegedly improperly dispersed foreign residuals. Asner and the other plaintiffs first filed their suitMay 24. After the hearing, plaintiff’s attorney Helena Wise said “we’re not backing away from this”. The lawyer added that because some aspects of the foreign residuals in the case remain partially intact, she is considering amending the complaint. In his decision today, the judge also granted the majority of SAG AFTRA’s motions to strike portions of the original complaint. He did not agree to strike the naming of the union’s national executive director David White, which could be significant as Wise said today she is also considering launching an action of breach of fiduciary duty and corruption against various union executives including White and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. In the hearing earlier, Wise told the judge that she would likely add White and others to the suit if it was allowed to go forward for their alleged role in the foreign residuals pay-outs. Also outside the courtroom after the hearing, plaintiff Bill Richert accused the union of being “corrupt” from “top to bottom.” Richert and several other plaintiffs attended the hearing today. Asner was not among them. SAG AFTRA lawyer Robert Bush said following the 30-minute hearing that “the complaint will have to be completely re-written”, adding that in his opinion “this is a small case, not a big case”.
UPDATE, 12:35PM: Gabrielle Carteris has been elected SAG-AFTRA’s new Executive Vice President at the union’s convention today. The Beverly Hills, 90210 actress and former LA Local co-President beat NY Local president Mike Hodge and last-minute candidate Jane Austin for the powerful union position voted on by delegates. (UPDATE 4:13 - A total of 303 ballots were cast in the race say SAG-AFTRA. Carteris received 66.5% of the vote from the delegates while Hodge received 23.22% and Austin pulled 10.28%. In a separate vote, Hodge was elected to a National VP position along with 6 others) Recently elected National Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino was among those who spoke in favor of Carteris to the delegates. The result may not sit that well with union President Ken Howard, who threw his support very publicly behind Hodge. Carteris was endorsed by former SAG-AFTRA co-President Roberta Reardon. The convention continues until September 29 and will be followed by a two-day National Board meeting.
With just under a week to go before the election for the influential EVP position at SAG-AFTRA‘s first national convention since merging, National President Ken Howard today threw his weight behind NY local President Mike Hodge for the slot. Recently re-elected to his East Coast position, Hodge becomes the second formal candidate for the EVP job. Earlier this week, former AFTRA LA local President Gabrielle Carteris threw her hat in the ring. She is endorsed by former National Co-President Roberta Reardon, who narrowly lost her bid to be NY local president to incumbent Hodge in last month’s local elections. Prior that loss, Reardon was widely expected to run for the national EVP slot. Hodge had endorsed Howard for National President in last month’s SAG-AFTRA election, and Howard in turn backed Hodge and his slate in NY. “Mike Hodge is someone I’ve counted on for strong, steady leadership from the very start of my union service, and he has never failed to deliver,” Howard said in a statement. “I’m tremendously impressed with the way he’s handled things in New York, and it’s important that our national union have leadership that reflects our national footprint. Mike is an independent thinker who members can trust to put the interests of our union first.” The EVP election, voted on by the union’s recently elected delegates, …
Unsurprisingly, the former union president and the other plaintiffs in their lawsuit against SAG-AFTRA claiming the union had not properly disbursed $110 million in foreign residuals don’t agree with the union’s desire to dismiss the bulk of the case or strike a portion of it. In a series of filings late Monday and early today (read them here & here & here), Ed Asner and the other 15-members of the self-titled United Screen Actors Committee allege an “extreme web these parties have woven to steal money that rightfully belongs to U.S. performers, if not others as well.” The plaintiffs are urging the federal court to reject the motions SAG-AFTRA filed back on July 31 in response to their initial suit. “Ironically, the very statements which Defendants want to strike portray a Union and its leadership, as well as Labor Consultants, clearly indifferent to federally mandated LMRDA requirements requiring transparency and accountability in Union finances, as well as access to Union contracts, not to mention the right to timely learn about and to vote upon whether to ratify or reject such contracts,” the 10-age opposition to motion to strike also notes.
Original Beverly Hills 90210 actress and former SAG-AFTRA LA Local co-president Gabrielle Carteris is running for the union’s powerful Executive Vice President job, the actress announced tonight. “As National Executive Vice President of SAG-AFTRA I will work with President Ken Howard, my fellow union leaders and members to help SAG‑AFTRA find its strong common voice,” she said in a statement. The EVP election will take place at SAG-AFTRA’s inaugural convention September 26-29 in LA. It looks like former National co-President Roberta Reardon won’t be seeking the EVP gig as was widely expected. Instead, she has endorsed Carteris. “As we approach the 2014 negotiations, we need Gabrielle’s steady hand and steely determination to help guide our union,” Reardon said Sunday. Reardon narrowly lost a bid to become President of the NYC Local in the union’s recent national election, its first since last year’s merger. Reardon was elected a Local and National Board Member in the vote.
So that’s the reason Ned Vaughn opted out of the recent SAG-AFTRA elections – he’s aiming for Sacramento. The union executive VP resigned Tuesday in anticipation of an announcement today to seek the Republican nomination for the California State Assembly’s 66th District. In fact, the actor has already added a “Ned Vaughn for California Assembly” badge to his Twitter page and has a campaign website. And the rare Republican in a heavily Democratic town has got the lingo down too. “I refuse to sit back while a complacent majority sends California down the path to mediocrity,” Vaughn says on the site about his Democratic Party rivals who hold power in the state capitol.
Before dropping out of this year’s election in the late spring, Vaughn, who joined the Hollywood board in 2008 and was elected 1stVP of SAG in 2010, was a big booster of the 2012 merger of the two unions and had been widely expected to seek the powerful EVP job at the September 26 to 29 national convention. “Ned has been a driving force behind many of our greatest successes, in particular the years-long effort to merge our two unions. There would not be a united SAG-AFTRA without his dedication and commitment. He’s a tremendous leader and I’m sorry to see him go, but wish …
After announcing the re-election of Ken Howard as National President, and unveiling the results of its Los Angeles local balloting, the union just made the New York vote public. Mike Hodge has been elected New York President. Of the win, he said: “I want to express my sincere thanks to all the members who made their voices heard by voting in our historic first SAG-AFTRA election. It was a vigorous campaign and I’m grateful that NY members have elected me to lead our local. I’m eager to work with the new board to continue building a strong future for all the entertainment and media professionals we represent.” New York was the 25th and last of the SAG-AFTRA locals to be announced. See the full results after the jump:
A couple hours after announcing the re-election of Ken Howard as National President, the union has unveiled the results of its Los Angeles local balloting. Clyde Kusatsu was elected President, with Jenny O’Hara as First VP and Susan Boyd Joyce as Second VP. This is the 24th of the 25 SAG-AFTRA locals to be announced, leaving only New York, the results of which are expected tonight. See the full results after the jump:
Incumbent Ken Howard has won a landslide victory as national president in the union’s first national election since the March 2012 merger. Amy Aquino was re-elected SAG-AFTRA‘s National Secretary-Treasurer. Both officers will serve two-year terms, effective immediately. Howard received 16,396 votes, with Esai Morales receiving 9,850 votes, Paul Edney receiving 1,359 votes and Marilyn Monrovia receiving 960 votes. “I’m gratified that members across the country have reelected me to lead our union and continue building on the strong foundation we created through merger,” Howard said in a statement. “I want to congratulate Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino on her re-election and offer my sincere thanks to all the candidates who ran for office. I look forward to joining the delegates who will assemble in Los Angeles for the first SAG-AFTRA convention in late September, and then moving forward with the new leadership team to do the important work that members have entrusted to us.”
Meanwhile, ballots are still being tabulated for the union’s two largest local elections in Los Angeles and New York. Results are expected later today.
Read the news release after the jump:
UPDATE: 10:25 AM: Results are now in from SAG-AFTRA’s San Diego Local elections, marking the 23rd of 25 locals to be announced. Some candidates ran unopposed; balloted winners are indicated by a *. See latest results after the jump.
With the union preparing to tally votes next week for its first national election since the merger, SAG-AFTRA‘s recent annual report shows both an increase in its national director’s pay and the organization’s debt. The 448-page report (read it here) shows that David White‘s pay increased 15% in fiscal 2012 to $541,000. The exec director, who shared responsibilities with the now-departed Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, made $470,500 during the previous fiscal year. While White’s pay went up, SAG-AFTRA’s debt also rose during fiscal 2012, which ended April 30. The report submitted to the Department of Labor shows that the union owes $132.26 million in “funds held in trust for others.” That’s up by nearly a third from the $100.48 million it reported in the same category for the previous fiscal year. The report offers no breakdown as to why the sum increased. “The increase in these funds is primarily due to more and larger producer’s deposits received over the last fiscal year,” said a union spokesperson today. The report, with its increases in staff expenditures and such owed amounts, comes as the union is being sued by former SAG president Ed Asner and others for $110M in allegedly unpaid foreign residuals.
UPDATED, 11:14 PM: YouTube today dismissed the support that IATSE, the DGA, AFM and SAG-AFTRA has shown for Viacom’s efforts to get another day in court with its $1 billion copyright infringement suit. Not only does the Google-owned company say in a statement that the unions’ brief “recycles” a previous filing from 2010 in the suit but that they “don’t seem to have followed developments in the case.” Read the statement YouTube issued via a spokesperson late Monday below:
The brief filed by entertainment industry unions recycles their brief from the first appeal in 2010. They don’t seem to have followed developments in the case or recognized the changes to YouTube’s place in the entertainment ecosystem. The Court has twice rejected Viacom’s unfounded copyright infringement claims. And even Viacom has conceded it doesn’t object to how YouTube has operated for the last five years. YouTube has signed licensing agreements with every major movie studio and record label, has developed an industry-leading Content Identification system used by 4,000 media partners, and does more to prevent piracy than any other major video hosting provider.
PREVIOUSLY, 6:33 PM: Despite another recent court loss, Viacom’s latest attempt to revive its billion-dollar copyright suit against YouTube has just gotten some very vocal support again from some old friends. “YouTube’s role in the rampant, systematic distribution of content in violation of the exclusive rights of copyright holders caused and continues to cause harm to the entertainment industries and the members of the Guilds and Unions working in those industries,” said a joint brief filed late last week by lawyers for the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the American Federation of Musicians. “We urge the Court to consider the full ramifications of YouTube’s actions, and request that the Court reverse the lower court’s decision.” The unions offered similar such support as they did last week back in 2010. Filed on August 2 this year, the quartet’s new 28-page brief (read it here) comes after Viacom filed materials on July 30 with the 2nd Court of Appeals asking for a new judge in the long-running case. That expected legal move against Judge Louis Stanton followed the NY-based U.S. District Court judge granting YouTube yet another favorable summary judgment in the matter on April 18. That was the second such decision for the Google-owned entity in the case. Viacom first launched the $1B action in 2007.
More than two months after former union president Ed Asner and over a dozen others filed suit claiming the union had not properly disbursed $110 million in foreign residuals, SAG-AFTRA today took formal aim at their case. In motions filed Wednesday in federal court (read it here), SAG-AFTRA argues that most of the suit should be dismissed. “What plaintiffs fail to mention in the 52 pages of their complaint is that much of the challenges they raise to SAG-AFTRA’s residuals collection and distribution programs has already been resolved in a judicially approved settlement of virtually identical allegations in a class action lawsuit,” says the nearly 30-page filing. “The instant lawsuit is a virtual verbatim restatement of the settled Osmond litigation,” it adds. That 2007 action by Ken Osmond of Leave It To Beaver fame and other actors was resolved back in 2010. They had accused SAG at the time of not properly paying out $8.1 million in overseas royalties.
The group didn’t say which amendments will move ahead as a result of the one-day National Board of Directors videoconference plenary that took place yesterday. But details “will be published in advance of the convention” to be held September 26-29 at the J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live along with “any additional proposed amendments submitted by the required number of local boards,” SAG-AFTRA says. National Executive Director David White called yesterday’s final meeting of the transitional National Board “an important marker in the life of this newly merged union.” He also praised the current leadership’s “tremendous legacy for the elected leaders who will follow.” In addition to their work on the constitutional amendments, directors approved the recommended rules for the convention, which also will be published ahead of time. General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland reported that the union’s foreign royalties program has distributed more than $17.5M to performers since its inception. And National Co-Secretary-Treasurers Amy Aquino and Matt Kimbrough said that they’ve integrated the financials of the previous organizations. Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers audited the books and found no grounds to qualify its opinion about them.
Deadline will make editorial space available so the SAG-AFTRA and WGA candidates for top offices can campaign here. Please send editors@deadline your materials. Esai Morales is running for SAG-AFTRA’s first sole National President and has sent the following video and message:
A Message From Esai Morales
Hollywood Local Membership1st Campaign Email
“I served on the National Board along side Esai and I know him to be a caring and dedicated person. I believe the SAG-AFTRA membership will be well served with Esai as our National President. I also know that Jane is a strong leader, with a solid business sense. With her National Board and committee experience, Jane is an excellent choice for SAG-AFTRA Secretary/Treasurer. Please support both Esai and Jane.” – ED HARRIS
“SAG-AFTRA can no longer function with a deficit. Fresh and business savvy ideas are needed to help bring SAG-AFTRA back into the black. I have those ideas.” – JANE AUSTIN
Each day, members are growing frustrated with the current state of affairs at SAG-AFTRA. The union is in a crisis and I believe I have the knowledge, experience and faith to help put SAG-AFTRA back on the right track.
1. Are you fed up with waiting up to 100 days to receive a residual check?
2. Are you puzzled by the fact our union has been operating with a multi-million dollar deficit since 2010?
3. Do stunt performers and background actors deserve their own SAG-AFTRA departments?
4. Are you wondering why, with the increasing amount of low budget films being produced, our pay-rate has remained flat?
5. Are you still having a tough time qualifying for health insurance?
6. If you do background work, are you suspicious and frustrated with the questionable behavior of some call-in services?
7. Do you believe there should be a dedicated seat for Background Performers on SAG-AFTRA’s National Board?
If you answered “YES” to any one of these questions, you are not alone.
Here are OUR answers:
1. Immediately hire part-time employees in the residual department to expedite the processing and mailing of checks to members within 30 days. And at the same, time we’ll investigate looking into long-term solutions.
Just under a week after SAG-AFTRA announced the candidates for its first election since last year’s merger, the Unite for Strength slate put out its list today. Current National co-President Ken Howard, who is running for the new solo top position, is LA-based UFS’ endorsed candidate in the election. Amy Aquino, who with Howard helped form UFS several years ago, is the endorsed Secretary-Treasurer candidate. Clyde Kusatsu is the UFS endorsed candidate for the Los Angeles Local president’s seat. Sons of Anarchy and Pacific Rim star Ron Perlman, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (The Help) and Tony Shalhoub expressed their support for the slate. “Unite for Strength’s record of success proves that no one will fight harder or smarter to protect SAG-AFTRA members. With our TV/Theatrical negotiations ahead, it’s crucial to elect leaders who will deliver real results – that’s Unite for Strength,” said Perlman in a statement today. Here’s the UFS release:
Los Angeles, (July 18, 2013) – Unite for Strength today announced that SAG-AFTRA Co-President Ken Howard and Co-Secretary Treasurer Amy Aquino will seek re-election as the Union’s top directly elected national officers. The group will field a slate of 52 candidates running for positions on the SAG-AFTRA National and Los Angeles Local Boards, including veteran actor Clyde Kusatsu, who is running to become Los Angeles Local President. The slate brings together a broad coalition of candidates with wide-ranging experience in union leadership, including Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Gabrielle Carteris (Beverly Hills, 90210), Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Patrika Darbo (Rango), Lisa Vidal (Grimm), Hal Eisner (Award-winning broadcaster at KTTV FOX 11), Jason George (Grey’s Anatomy), Stephen Collins (Devious Maids), and Iqbal Theba (Glee). UFS will also field more than 100 candidates vying for positions as delegates to the first SAG-AFTRA National Convention, to be held in Los Angeles in late September. Election ballots were mailed to members on July 16 and will be tabulated on August 15.