HOLLYWOOD — Screen Actors Guild prexy William Daniels has warned members that they will face their second dues increase in two years if SAG’s national board does not cut expenses.
Daniels issued the prediction as part of a message to the 98,000 members a few days before Thursday’s special board meeting to consider a plan that would trim the panel’s size from 107 to 62. The governance plan would also boost Hollywood representation to 54% to reflect its share of members.
The proposal was voted down 52-50 in April and then the board was unable to agree to vote on it on July 30.
Reps outside Hollywood have been vigorously campaigning against the plan, alleging it is the first step toward closing smaller branches — an accusation denied by Hollywood reps. Daniels, who is not seeking re-election this fall, blasted the board last week for foot-dragging in refusing to implement any of the cost-cutting recommendations in last year’s Towers Perrin report, which was commissioned as a result of the 1999 dues increase. The cost-benefit analysis suggested $8 million in cuts to SAG’s $50 million operating budget, including slashing the board to 40 seats.
Daniels noted that SAG spends nearly $2 million annually and the time of nearly 29 full-time employees to support the board. He also said that the board’s functions need to be re-delegated to establish policy only.
Just too big
“The board of directors cannot continue to function effectively at its current size,” Daniels said. “Because of how we govern now, almost 53% of the staff throughout the union is involved in dealing with the board. We cannot ignore it any longer. Significant changes must be made or there will be another dues increase and I do not believe that would be fair to the membership.”
Daniels did not specify how much dues would rise. The 1999 hike boosted the annual base to $100 from $85 and bumped the dues for earnings up to $200,000, to 1.85% from 1.5%.
Despite issuing the warning, the prexy pointed out that growth of expenses has been slowed significantly during his two years in office. “The budget increases during my term have averaged 3.2% per year,” he said. “In the four years before I was elected, the budget grew at an average of 13% per year, and in the three years before I came into office, we had overspent our income by $10.5 million.”