Guild blames declining dues, investment losses

HOLLYWOOD — On the heels of declining dues and investment losses, the Screen Actors Guild plans to cut 35 of its 440 employees.

SAG national exec director David White notified staffers about the cuts in a memo sent Monday, two days after the guild’s national board approved a $60 million budget for the fiscal year starting May 1.

“To correct a serious gap between our expected revenue and costs, the budget calls for a significant reduction in our expenses, including the elimination of certain staff positions,” White said. “The loss of even one position in our professional family is difficult for all of us, and few words can offer relief. Nonetheless, I have asked all employees nationwide to convene tomorrow morning so that I, and our executive team, can speak directly to you about this situation and its consequences.”

White did not elaborate in the memo as to which departments would see cuts.

White, who replaced the fired Doug Allen three months ago, told the board during the meeting that the cuts were necessary to close a $6 million operating deficit.

One board member said that the deficit also stemmed from the board not exercising enough authority over Allen’s spending during his two-year tenure. Control of the board shifted to moderate SAG members last fall.

SAG members have seen declines in feature work over the past year due to the uncertainty stemming from a possible strike. In addition, SAG’s share of primetime work has fallen as nearly all TV pilots signed with the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, which shares jurisdiction on shows shot on digital.

According to the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, SAG actors have lost a potential $67 million in wage hikes due to its leaders’ refusal to accept the feature-primetime deal when it was first offered last July. SAG’s national board OK’d that deal Sunday, triggering a ratification vote.

Leaders of the WGA West recently cut 18 jobs, or about 10% of its staff, due to investment losses and declining dues.

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