Nat’l SAG ok’s downsizing board

Cost-saving move to cut 45 spots

HOLLYWOOD — Members of the Screen Actors Guild national board have overwhelmingly agreed to cut SAG’s national board to 62 from 107 and to boost Hollywood’s representation from 46% to 53%.

Move, designed to save SAG as much as $500,000 a year, was announced Thursday after a three-week referendum. A total of 20,719 ballots were returned (21.54%) out of the 96,167 ballots mailed, with 18,503 (89.37%) in favor, 2,151 (10.39%) against and 65 ballots deemed invalid.

Vote reps a final step in a two-year effort to reorganize the board, launched after a recommendation by Towers Perrin consultants that the board cut back to save money and run more efficiently. Idea was ferociously opposed by the non-Hollywood branches, which feared such a move would lead to enactment of another Towers Perrin suggestion to close smaller SAG offices.

“This is a great victory for the membership,” said guild governance chair Gary Epp. “It means equality of representation no matter where a SAG member resides.”

Epp said presidents William Daniels and Melissa Gilbert should get credit for keeping the issue before the board. The board split 52-50 on the issue a year ago before finally endorsing the concept in mid-October on a 95-2 vote and approving the referendum three months later on a 102-3 vote.

“The approval of the new governance plan is a very significant step in moving us toward our goal of becoming the most respected and effective union in the entertainment industry and advancing our mission of better serving our members,” said SAG CEO Bob Pisano.

Approval by the members triggers a census of members this spring to determine the exact allocation of board seats, followed by an election for all seats except president, secretary and treasurer in 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 each have a single vote. Other details:

  • Hollywood members, repping 53.44% of SAG’s members, will receive 32 of the 62 seats. Hollywood currently holds 46% of the 107 seats.

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

  • The president and the secretary-treasurer each will 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.

  • The president, secretary and treasurer will serve until the 2003 fall election, when a third of the seats will be up.

  • The 12 current 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 position.

  • 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 handles much of the day-to-day policymaking) will consist of 25 members, with 12 from Hollywood, six from New York and five from the branches, along with the president and secretary-treasurer.

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