Clashes rage over confidentiality charges

HOLLYWOOD — Ferocious internal battles at the Screen Actors Guild have continued, with the national board voting to indemnify members who will hear the contentious case of three guild activists facing discipline on alleged confidentiality violations.

In a meeting dominated by angry exchanges, the national board voted late Monday after several hours of debate that it would follow its usual procedure of covering potential legal costs of the trial board members, who are scheduled to meet May 13.

SAG’s board voted six weeks ago, at the urging of SAG prexy William Daniels, to begin disciplinary proceedings against Diane McBain, Mary McDonald-Lewis and Paul Reggio for alleged disclosure of confidential information about the guild’s internal operations. McBain and McDonald-Lewis are board members, while Reggio was a New York leader of last year’s strike against advertisers.

Contract distraction

The case has dominated the attention of elected guild leaders in recent weeks at a time when SAG and AFTRA are in the midst of negotiating a new film-TV contract.

The controversy is the latest in a long line of disputes between Daniels backers and opponents, who are mostly in New York and regional branches and have been galvanized as they’ve blocked attempts by Hollywood members to reduce costs by cutting the size of the board and shuttering smaller brick-and-mortar regional offices. Monday’s meeting was so lengthy that the issue of implementing those recommendations, which had been on the agenda, was not considered.

Federal prohibition

The question of indemnification arose partly because the trio’s attorney had warned the SAG board that federal law prohibits labor organizations from disciplining members for exercising the right to “express any views, arguments or opinions” and that proceeding with the disciplinary process would violate federal law by alleged selective enforcement of confidentiality rules.

Information in Tuesday’s paper omitted the word “allegedly” in recounting the charges.

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