SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Furloughs, Cutting Staff Hours

Dave McNary

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The SAG-AFTRA Executive Committee has approved an unspecified number of staff furloughs and reductions of staff hours in response to the current and anticipated production shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee announced the moves Thursday as part of a vote to overwhelmingly approve a fiscal year 2021 (May 1, 2020-April 30, 2021) of $96 million, including $5 million from reserves.

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“The budget approval comes amidst financial projections of the industry’s sustained decline in production activity and the subsequent impact on budget,” the performers union said. “The SAG-AFTRA finance committee unanimously recommended the budget based on revenue preservation moves, including reductions in personnel costs and operating expenses.”

“The union will optimize workflow and technology savings by removing redundant positions and those functions that will no longer be an organizational priority. The budget also anticipates cost savings through employee furloughs and work-hour reductions.”

SAG-AFTRA, which reps 160,000 performers, said employees whose workloads have been eliminated by the production shutdown will be furloughed until the industry returns to work. Other employees will be placed on a reduced-hours schedule to correspond to their decreased workload during this time.

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said, “Our duty to our members and our obligation as stewards of the organization is clear. With this budget, thoughtful, responsible, and strategic decisions have been made that align operating expenses with our projected revenues in a time of extraordinary industry disruption. Now, as always, our top priority is the protection of our members.”

SAG-AFTRA national executive director David P. White said, “In the face of an unprecedented global pandemic that has brought the economy and our industry to a virtual standstill, we must take the steps necessary to protect our membership and the financial strength of the union. This budget strategically responds to the severe challenges in the current business climate while ensuring we can emerge with strength to protect members when they return to work in the future.”

SAG-AFTRA closed its national headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles on March 19 with its staff working remotely. The union has retained a small staff on site to continue processing residual checks to members.

According to the union’s latest filing with the federal government for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2019, SAG-AFTRA collected $101.1 million in dues, or slightly less than half of its $211.4 million in receipts. The union’s initiation fee is $3,000 and annual dues are $214.32; members also pay 1.575% of earnings to SAG-AFTRA with that figure capped at $7,875 annually.

That report shows that there were 161,855 active members as of April 30, 2019. up 1,079 from the prior year.

 

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