SAG-AFTRA Funds Held in Trust Jump 7.5% to $164.3 Million

SAG-AFTRA’s funds held in trust for others have jumped by 7.5% to $164.3 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 Monday’s filing of SAG-AFTRA’s LM-2 report with the U.S. Department of Labor for the fiscal year that ended April 30 in the category of “Funds Held in Trust for Others.” The 2014 report listed those funds at $153.04 million, a 16% jump from 2013’s figure of $132.26 million.

SAG-AFTRA was not immediately available for comment. In 2014, the union insisted that the majority of funds held in trust relate to production security deposits and residuals reserves — and that only a very small portion of these funds relate to foreign royalties.

However, the union has never provided any specific breakdown of the numbers. The report was signed by union president Ken Howard and secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino. Howard is seeking re-election and running against Patricia Richardson, while Aquino is no longer his running mate, as in three previous elections.

In a July 31 campaign message to members, Howard said without elaboration that he and his allies had been responsible for the union’s foreign royalties program “that has distributed more than $20 million since inception.” The assertion was one of 24 accomplishments listed by Howard.

In May 2013, Ed Asner and 15 other union members filed suit, alleging SAG-AFTRA had improperly withheld $132 million in 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 2014, 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 revisit the issue.

Eric Hughes, one of the plaintiffs in the Asner suit, said Wednesday in response to the new LM2 report: “SAG-AFTRA is in violation of federal law by failing to separately identify every major receipt of funds and every major disbursement of funds during the reporting period.”

Hughes also said, “SAG-AFTRA’s so-called task force on education targeting members does not have in its curriculum the laws which make it possible for members to regulate their union. A task force on education engaging senior staff might energize and mobilize SAG-AFTRA into compliance with the reporting requirements of U.S. labor law.”

The funds held in trust are by far the largest component of the $196 million in liabilities listed in the report. Assets are listed at $229.1 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 “Funds Held in Trust for Others” category, 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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Aaron Janus Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Hires 'A Quiet Place' Producer Aaron Janus as Senior VP of Production

    Lionsgate has hired Aaron Janus as its new senior vice president of production and promoted Meredith Wieck to the post of vice president of production.  Prior to Lionsgate, Janus served as Platinum Dunes’ head of development, where he oversaw filmmakers Brad Fuller, Andrew Form and Michael Bane. There, he brought in “A Quiet Place,” on [...]

  • Ang Lee Reveals First Look at

    Ang Lee on 'Gemini Man' and De-Aging Will Smith

    On paper, Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” is a standard-issue, shoot ’em up with Will Smith playing a deadly assassin who must battle a younger clone of himself. The explosions and gun battles aren’t what drew Lee to the project, even if they’re the reason that most people will show up at theaters when it opens [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Sean Clarke Aardman Staff Photography Bristol.Pic

    Aardman Appoints Sean Clarke as New Managing Director

    Aardman, the Oscar-winning animation studio behind “Chicken Run” and “Early Man,” has appointed Sean Clarke as its new managing director, replacing co-founder David Sproxton, who is stepping down after 43 years. Clarke has worked at the British studio for more than 20 years, including heading the international rights and marketing department for over a decade. [...]

  • The Antenna

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Antenna'

    Jump scares, creepy noises and the tease of hidden-from-view dangers are all fine. But a truly frightening horror film unsettles with more than its crafts, but instead through the vulnerability of defenseless people stuck with bad options only. First-time writer-director Orçun Behram’s highly stylized and mildly disturbing “The Antenna,” a metaphor on Turkey’s current ruling [...]

  • Ad Astra Box Office

    Box Office Battle: 'Ad Astra' Takes on 'Rambo: Last Blood' and 'Downton Abbey'

    “Hustlers” and “Good Boys” proved that even in the age of Marvel dominance and remake mania, movies that don’t exist within an established franchise can still be box office draws. Can “Ad Astra” continue that trend? The space drama — starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray — arrives on the big screen this [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks

    Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks Silence After D.A. Dropped Charge

    Lucia Evans gave a wrenching account on Tuesday of her efforts to hold Harvey Weinstein responsible for sexual assault, saying she felt betrayed after the Manhattan D.A.’s office dropped her allegations last year. Evans spoke to Variety after giving a speech at a conference on influencer fraud in Manhattan, making her first public comments on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content