SAG-AFTRA’s funds held in trust have jumped by 16% to $153 million since last year, according to the union’s latest filing with the federal government.
Those funds have been at the center of a long-running dispute, dating back to a 2007 suit filed by Ken Osmond (“Leave It to Beaver”) over how foreign royalties and residuals are handled by the union.
The disclosure came in Tuesday’s filing of SAG-AFTRA’s LM-2 report with he U.S. Department of Labor for the fiscal year ended April 30, which listed that the “Funds Held in Trust for Others” category at $153.04 million. The previous year’s figure was $132.26 million.
Asked about the increase, a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson said in response: “The majority of funds held in trust relate to production security deposits and residuals reserves — funds that will be returned to producers unless they breach their obligations under SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreements.”
“The amount of these funds held fluctuates greatly depending on production activity, production budgets and time of year. Only a very small portion of these funds relate to foreign royalties, and those funds are only held temporarily while they are allocated and distributed.”
However, the union did not provide any specific numbers. The report was signed by union president Ken Howard (pictured above) and treasurer Amy Aquino.
In May, 2013, Ed Asner and 15 other union members filed suit, alleging SAG-AFTRA had improperly withheld funds and stonewalled requests for information about the money held in trust by the union — including domestic residuals and foreign royalties collected by the union through foreign collecting societies without authorization or knowledge of union members.
The suit also alleged the union has cashed residuals checks and then claimed an inability to locate the actors to whom it owes money. A federal judge dismissed the suit in January, finding the union had been sufficiently cooperative in providing access to its materials — but the jurist also indicated that the plaintiffs would be able to re-visit the issue.
Eric Hughes, one of the plaintiffs in the Asner suit, said Wednesday in response to the new LM2 report: “SAG-AFTRA not only continues to violate the filing requirements imposed by federal law by failing to properly report all financial receipts but the sum of monies due but not delivered to members stunningly increases. The records the union has given us to review are not the records necessary to verify, explain or clarify its reporting.”
The funds held in trust are by far the largest component of the $160 million in liabilities listed in the report. Assets are listed at $172 million.
Osmond settled his case in 2011 and SAG and AFTRA merged in March, 2012. SAG’s fiscal 2012 report listed $100.48 million for the same item while the AFTRA LM2 national report listed a total of $11 million including $7.53 million of funds due to members that the union could not locate.
None of the four LM2 reports broke down the funds further.