HOLLYWOOD — Presidential candidate Eugene Boggs has blasted Screen Actors Guild attorneys and execs for alleged malfeasance during the contentious debate over restructuring the board.
Boggs, who has served seven years on the SAG national board, alleged that the guild’s elected officers have not been properly informed of key federal labor law requirements on representation. The national board decided on Aug. 16 to delay voting on the hot-button restructuring issue and refer it back to its governance committee.
“It appears that senior staff and SAG counsel have either 1) intentionally kept this legal information from the committee, or 2) were negligent in their professional responsibilities in not knowing the law in this matter,” he said in a posting on his campaign Web site, EugeneBoggs.com.
The question of revamping the board has been a divisive one within SAG for more than a year. A coalition of reps from Gotham and regional branches has blocked attempts to cut the panel from 107 to 62 and raise Hollywood’s share from 46% to 53.5% to reflect the region’s actual proportion of members.
SAG’s constitution currently provides that each branch with at least 100 members receive a seat, which ensures that even the smallest of SAG’s 25 branches are individually repped on the board.
As a result, Boggs contends, members of branches outside Hollywood receive “disproportionate weighting,” in violation of the provisions of the federal Landrum-Griffin Act specifying that union members be repped on a one-man, one-vote basis.
Boggs, who is also an attorney, said no other person discussed the specific Landrum-Griffin “equal votes”- for-all-members requirement at the Aug. 16 board meeting, held specifically to consider the restructuring issue. “Not senior staff, not one of the several union lawyers present, not in eight hours of debate, not one word,” he said. “And when I did make reference to it, I was greeted with stage yawns from some of my fellow board members.”
The board’s decision at that meeting to send the matter back to committee included the instruction that the plan should reflect SAG’s membership “more accurately.” Boggs contended the instruction creates a loophole allowing the board to fall well short of meeting “one man, one vote” requirements.
“SAG’s lawyers and senior staff have acquiesced in not being forthright with the board,” said Boggs, a maverick without ties to the major SAG factions. “I grew up in Mississippi, and I take voting rights very seriously.”
SAG spokesman Greg Krizman said he could not comment on Boggs’ allegations.
Boggs also said he endorses a referendum petition drive to obtain signatures from 10% of members in order to put the issue up for a vote by the entire membership. The 62-seat plan allocates one seat per every 1,757 members and means that some of the smaller branches will have to join together in electing a single rep.
Leaders of the 2-week-old initiative believe they will be able to obtain the needed 10,585 signatures prior to Oct. 13, when the board is scheduled to discuss the issue.
The idea of revamping the board came from last year’s Towers Perrin cost-benefit analysis of the guild. That document recommended slashing the panel to 40 members in order to cut costs and improve efficiency.
Boggs, who would be the first African-American SAG prexy if elected, has also moved to rescind the transfer of SAG’s CEO title to its new national executive director, but the board did not discuss the matter at its July 30 meeting, when only one quarter of the agenda was completed. Questions from board members about the issue led to the resignation of CEO-designate John Cooke in early July.
Boggs also pledged that if he wins, he will seek to oust the Geffner & Bush law firm as SAG’s outside counsel. “I do not see the firm as putting the union’s interests first, but rather as serving those in power who (at least metaphorically) sign their checks and who have become, over years of association, their friends,” he said. “This has got to stop.”
Along with Boggs, other announced candidates to succeed retiring prexy William Daniels are Angeltompkins, Melissa Gilbert, Arleen Goman and Valerie Harper.