Guild OKs edited board, majority rep for H'w'd

HOLLYWOOD — After nearly a year of trying, the Screen Actors Guild national board finally agreed Monday to cut its size to 62 from 107 and give Hollywood reps a slim majority.

The move, which is designed to save SAG as much as $500,000 a year, came during the early portion of an all-day session at SAG headquarters in Hollywood on a 102-3 vote.

“This much anticipated decision affirms the SAG board’s commitment to better serving all our members and parallels CEO Bob Pisano’s re-organization of staff structure allowing important issues to advance at a much quicker pace,” said guild governance chair Gary Epp, who began campaigning for the proposal two years ago. “It’s a big win for the membership.”

Pisano, who was tapped as SAG chief in September, said: “As a result of this action, SAG is in a much better position to run its affairs effectively and efficiently. A smaller National Board can respond to issues much more quickly and expedite all members’ concerns.”

The board had endorsed the concept of the so-called governance plan in mid-October on a 95-2 vote, but then was unable last month to vote up the language amid bickering over details such as changing requirements for the 25-member national exec committee. However, the governance team, which had originally written the plan, reviewed the matter and voted unanimously not to change from what had been approved in October.

“There was a lot of communication that went on in the last several weeks,” Epp said.

Monday’s vote triggers a referendum of SAG’s 98,500 members at a yet-to-be-set date. If approved, an election for all seats except president, secretary and treasurer would be held next September.

Key parts of the plan call for a 62-seat structure (even though 71 reps will be attending each meeting) and weighted balloting that will create a total of 138 votes. Hollywood and New York reps will receive 2.23 votes while the 16 smaller regional branches receive a single vote. Other details:

  • Hollywood members, repping 53.44% of SAG’s 98,000 members, will receive 32 of 62 seats. Hollywood currently holds 46% of seats.

  • New York will have 15 seats, repping 25% of members.

  • The president and the secretary-treasurer will each have a vote.

  • The remaining 20 regional branches will share 13 seats, repping 21.56%. Florida and Chicago get two seats each, San Francisco and Washington one seat each and the remaining 16 branches a total of seven seats. But each branch will send a rep to national meetings and the weighted voting will give each of those reps a whole vote.

  • Every seat will be up for election next fall (except for expected re-runs of the president, secretary and treasurer, whose terms will be two years following this fall’s election) before returning to a third of the seats every year. The plan also calls for the board to be reapportioned every two years if there are changes in the membership.

  • The current 12 VPs will be replaced by three, one each for Hollywood, Gotham and the branches.

  • The secretary and treasurer posts will be merged into a single post.

  • Qualifications for board service will include a requirement that dues be paid up.

  • Temporary board replacements will be drawn only from those who stood for election in the previous round of voting.

  • The board will be reapportioned, if needed, on the basis of an annual census.

  • The national executive committee (which performs much of the day-to-day policymaking) will consist of 25 members with 12 from Hollywood, six from New York, five from the branches along with the president and secretary-treasurer.

The governance issue had been divisive ever since the Towers Perrin report recommended in 2000 that the board cut itself to 40 slots to save money and run more efficiently.

The board split 52-50 in April on the issue and then delayed votes at two other meetings. Smaller branches were opposed on the grounds that they would be excluded from the board, which led to the weighted voting plan.

The board did not vote Monday on the question of a qualification requirement for having performed work under SAG contracts within a specific period, such as five years.

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