The Screen Actors Guild has disclosed it paid $190,000 in unused vacation and other benefits to former national exec director Ken Orsatti in 2001, an amount that was the subject of intense debate within the org.
The information about Orsatti, who had been earning $240,000 a year before he retired in January 2001, was not disclosed until recently, when SAG filed its required annual financial report to the federal government, nearly nine months after the deadline.
Orsatti’s payout, which was determined by SAG staff, was the subject of internal debate among SAG’s elected officers last year, due in part to the scathing Towers Perrin consultants report, which blasted SAG’s administrators and described the guild’s operations as “organized chaos.”
Amount of work debated
Some elected officers questioned how much Orsatti had actually been working during his last year on the job, because he did the majority of his work from home.
Orsatti, who had held the post since 1981, said when he announced his retirement that he had come into SAG headquarters in Los Angeles twice a week and worked out of his house the rest of the time. “The payment was for unused vacation time and other standard employment benefits,” said SAG spokeswoman Ilyanne Kichaven.
There was no immediate explanation as to how Orsatti had accumulated more than nine months of vacation time and other benefits.
Cooke followed by Pisano
SAG’s national board named former Disney exec John Cooke to the national exec director post last June, but Cooke quit 10 days later. The panel then tapped former studio exec Bob Pisano in September.
SAG did not file the required LM-2 document for its fiscal year ended April 30, 2001, until three weeks ago. Dept. of Labor regulations specify the LM-2 must be filed within 90 days of the end of its fiscal year, although reps for the department have indicated there is no specific penalty for failing to meet the deadline.
The document is signed by SAG prexy Melissa Gilbert and treasurer Kent McCord, both of whom took office in November and then were re-elected in a rerun in March. Kichaven said the delay was due to SAG’s decision to wait for a ruling from the government to allow the guild to file one report annually rather than three. It was unclear what three reports SAG had previously been filing.
McCord signs off on report
McCord was not available for comment, but he included a handwritten statement on the cover page that appeared to distance himself from the report: “To the extent that the data shown in this report reflects the appropriate categories and amounts for the receipts and disbursements for the union’s funds, I am signing this report.”
The document is the first to be filed with SAG’s fiscal year ending in April rather than Aug. 31, and it covers only eight months. The national board decided to shift the fiscal year to better position itself to formulate a budget by setting the date after the November elections and after the calendar year’s first infusion of member dues money.
The document indicates an improvement in SAG’s financial health during the eight months as assets rose $2 million to $63.2 million and liabilities declined by $4.3 million to $50.4 million. But Kichaven said the changes in the financial picture over the eight months are due largely to typical fluctuations created by the infusion of dues and the accounting for assets.