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SAG board members move to oust chief negotiator


The Screen Actors Guild board today moved to oust the union's executive director, Doug Allen, citing a crisis in leadership that has paralyzed Hollywood's largest actors union.

A majority of directors said in a statement that they had delivered a "written assent" document to SAG headquarters that authorized that Allen be immediately replaced as national executive director by former SAG General Counsel David White, who will serve as interim executive director. Allen has been on the job for two years.

For now, Allen's job will be split in two. As part of the shake-up, John T. McGuire will take over Allen's role as the union's chief negotiator on all contracts. In addition, the union's negotiating committee will be replaced by a "task force" appointed by the board, which will "work to secure a TV/theatrical contract that can be sent to members with a positive recommendation."

"These much needed changes will allow SAG to chart a new course," the group said.

The move, which was widely expected, comes two weeks after the board majority attempted to fire Allen but was filibustered by his supporters during a 28-hour meeting. The group represents a coalition of so-called moderates who have accused Allen and SAG President Alan Rosenberg of mishandling negotiations and dividing the 120,000-member union. Actors have been working without a contract since June 30, 2008.

The board members voted by means of "written assent," a provision in SAG's constitution that allows a majority of directors to take action by putting their votes in writing. "The unrelenting obstruction by a minority of board members has left us no alternative,'' the group said in explaining its action.

SAG had no immediate comment.

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (16)

Doug, we don't care if you go away mad. Just go AWAY already!

Removing Doug Allen from SAG is absolutely the right move. A negotiator he is not; a savvy union leader he is not. His was a bully pulpit. You do not prevail in negotiations or in public relations from a bully pulpit. Any skillful negotiator knows that elementary rule. And negotiation is a chess game -- you must always be three or four moves ahead of your opponents. Allen has perpetually been three or four moves behind, seemingly clueless about what next (and to everyone else, obvious) move the producers would make. The current SAG leadership, starting with Allen, has misstepped from way back in 2007. They don't know how to lead, and they certainly don't know how to negotiate.

"These much needed changes will allow SAG to chart a new course." One that leads us directly into the iceberg.

This is a union caught in the act of committing suicide. Unless the union comes together and demands a fair contract from producers and studios in regard to so-called "new media", it is highly unlikely that there will be a Screen Actors Guild within five years. More than 95% of SAG members make more than half their income from residuals. It is abundandtly clear that the plan of producers is to eliminate residuals by relegating all re-runs to new media. It's already happening now. The current contract for new media pays actors pennies for an almost unlimited number of runs, while producers get their money upfront. The only SAG members who aren't frightened by this prospect are the wealthy producer/actors who could care less about residuals or the middle class of their union. I'm not part of this industry, but I am stunned at the Lemming-like march of these people toward a financial abyss where there will be no collective bargaining to protect the working actor. The implications for the consumer are dramatic, pun intended. Look forward to more empty-headed, cheaply produced reality programming and a few TV series filled with unrecognizable, mediocre talent whose hobby is acting. The most common argument used against supporters of a strike by SAG is that times are bad. This, of course, if preposterous, since now is precisely the best time to strike. Neither state nor local government will stand by and allow the producers to string SAG negotiators along with meaningless offers, dragging out the pain of a needlessly long work stoppage. Without a new contract that keeps the middle class of the union viable, dues will dry up and the crucial benefits provided will shrink to nothing. At some point, good people will be driven out of the industry and the Screen Actors Guild will become a relic of the past, as will the quality of entertainment in this country.

It's about time!!!

I am so SICK of SAG...
For god knows how long now we have been hearing about this potential strike and know one has once stopped to say "you know what? the threat of this strike is actually doing the same if not more damage as actually going out on the picket line"

Every few days or so you here the media ramping up on talks about a pending strike and then you hear it all cooling down and for some reason or another a vote gets postponed or there is a decision not to strike.

In the mean time you have studios both TV and Film that are too affraid to start production on any new projects for fear that they might get hit with the strike as soon as they role tape.

SAG is not even out on strike and yet they are holding an industry hostage by their inaction. So I say this...Dear over paid, inflated ego, pompus jerks of SAG. Quit your whining and end this once and for all. You really are not making many friends out here in the land of your audience. The longer this drags out the more us normal people are going to care less about you, your dumb awards and what movie you have coming out.

Grow up and stop bitching!

That was stupid, they just changed rowers in mid stream, I stopped paying my dues last year after 14 years of no viable earnings, hey I know? Let the crafts do the acting now, they have been the ones working anyways right? It's all about the teamsters and the gaffers, and the carpenters, and the riggers where no work is left for thre performers. the paly is not the thing after all...

It appears from the articles I have read that the New York board is overruling the Hollywood board. I was raised to believe that majority rules - however, in this case, it appears that there has been NO vote put before the membership. If I were a member, I would not be happy that I was not given the opportunity to cast my vote. After all, having a voice is the American way. I think this was unfair and under handed politics.

Oh, please let him go. My friends in the below-the-line jobs cannot take another drawn out union problem. Many of them lost their jobs and some lost their insurance during the writers' strike. More people work in this industry than just the stars.

John T. McGuire was the very first person I met when I became a casting director and needed rules and advice 35 years ago. He is what made me stay in the business. He is a fair honest and no Bull kind of Man. GOOD FOR SAG!!!!!!!

Its their own fault, tough Union tactics and strike talk in this present economic meltdown was totally bad timing, just did not make sense. Now if someone can just do something about Tina Fey, I would say it was all worth it.

You know, I won't come down on whether or not this was wrong or right. Some major strategic blunders were made during this negotiation, and SAG is in a very bad position, but I do have an idea as to what SAG should do next.

They don't really need a "union" expert, this is show-biz, which is different from other businesses. Ego plays a much bigger part than any other industry. So I suggest that SAG drop having a professional labour negotiator and get an agent. A real blood-thirsty "Type-A" SOB who can't be bribed, bullied, or BS'ed whose ego craves getting the best contract he can, and so does his wallet, because he'll get a percentage. ;)

SAG has been self imploding for the past year. I'm surprised it took so long to oust this guy.

That probably explains why SAG president Alan Rosenberg was so humble on his union's awards ceremonies Sunday night on TBS/TNT.

The "over paid, inflated ego, pompous jerks of SAG," tend to also be producers, or the so called "moderates." Most actors don't make enough money to pay their rent through acting. The producers, and the LA Times, have done a very good job of turning this into class warfare. Who's greedy - someone who wants to keep how they earn 95% of their wages? Or someone who is willing to let this city suffer in order to make an extra 3 - 5%?

This isn't SAG's fault, or the fault of actors, it's greedy producers who want to squeeze every last penny they can out of a project. This is their chance to break this union and they're going for it.

The pre-strike might as well have been a strike, so DO IT! STRIKE! What do we have to lose? WIth no strike, there will be no more union in 5 years. What we think of as TV today will be considered "internet" in a year, and then what?

Do you like non-union work? No Pay? Forced overtime? Doing your own stunts? Maybe you can even be in charge if rigging your own safety equipment.

Strike or go home. If you don't strike you're a coward, and don't have to fortitude to make it in this town.

There are a lot of stupid comments on this post, put there for the most part by jerks who don't work in this business, can't spell, and are not familiar with union problems. They also hide behind essentially anonymous "handles" instead of having the cojones to state their real names. They can't somehow relate to the fact that, without SAG, we'd all be out of work. You see, I AM an actor and a SAG member for almost 30 years, and I know from plenty of experience that a good negotiation depends on the willingness of the membership to stand up for their right to bargain fairly. The producers and their representatives are always hardnose and always propose rollbacks rather than reasonable positions. It is entirely reasonable to put a strike authorization on the table after the producers fail to make ANY acceptable proposals or even agree to talk about them. They have been intransigent from the gitgo to now. That is a totally unfair position for them to take and invites a strike authorization, which would definitely get their attention. As for the twits who wish to grovel for the favor of the producers' hit men, they should be ashamed of themselves and their sellout attitudes. It 's time for these pitiful folks to try to make it without their union, and go it alone instead of messing around with the real actor's union, SAG. Stand up like the grownups you should be, instead of knuckling under to "daddy". This is not the fault of Doug Allen who is a grownup and has always worked for all of us. Where is the next grownup going to come from? Apparently not from the "written assent" cowards who are quick to condemn and even quicker to sellout!
Jim Haynie


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