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 …
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.