80 leave SAG in voluntary severance program

Merger agreement provided that no layoffs would take place

About 80 of the 600 SAG-AFTRA employees are leaving the union in a voluntary severance program.

The departures, which go into effect Friday, come six months after members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists voted to combine the unions. The merger agreement provided that no layoffs would take place.

“When you bring together two staffs with similar responsibilities and duties, there is naturally going to be some overlap and redundancy,” said David White, national executive director of the merged union, in a statement. “This program is helping us get our staffing levels right in a way that is respectful and reflects our priorities going forward. It’s only one piece of the continuing integration of our merged union. This also affords us a unique opportunity to improve our operational structure and to think differently about how best to serve members in the rapidly evolving industries in which they work. We are taking seriously this opportunity to innovate and are pleased with the progress we’ve made to date.”

SAG-AFTRA had no comment beyond White’s statement.

The departures include Deborah Berg, currently the director of knowledge management, after more than three decades at SAG.

Kim Roberts Hedgpeth decided in April to step down as the SAG-AFTRA co-national executive director, leaving White as the sole national exec director for SAG-AFTRA.

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