SAG’s national board once again fired its national executive director Doug Allen today at a special meeting called by interim executive director David White.
Two board members present at the five-hour meeting held in LA and New York via videoconference said 59% of the union’s 71-member national board voted to remove Allen from his post — for a second time in two weeks — in order to avoid further legal action by president Alan Rosenberg and his supporters.
The board members confirmed that Rosenberg chaired today’s meeting and the plaintiffs in the suit — SAG first VP Anne-Marie Johnson, former first VP, Kent McCord, and Diane Ladd — were present.
A SAG spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the news.
Board member Ned Vaughn, leader of the faction Unite for Strength, told The Wrap, “We are extremely gratified that an even larger majority of the board has gotten behind this action. Now it’s time to focus on the work ahead.”
UFS members won the majority of SAG’s national board seats during the guild’s elections in September. The faction —considered to be more moderate than Rosenberg’s party Membership First — endorses a merger with AFTRA and a swift resolution to a new TV/Theatrical contract with AMPTP.
According to individuals at the meeting, Membership First devotees board members Keith Carradine and Angela Watson went against the party line and voted for Allen’s dismissal. A spokesperson for Membership First has not responded to a request for confirmation.
Fifty two and a half percent of SAG board fired Allen in a written assent delivered to SAG headquarters January 26. Rosenberg and his supporters attempted to reinstate Allen by filing papers in LA Superior Court on Tuesday claiming the action was illegal. Judge James Chalfont threw out the complaint on Thursday.
“I guess they thought like a cat [Allen] had several lives,” said Stephen Diamond, an associate professor of labor law at the Santa Clara University School of Law and a former candidate to be SAG’s NED. “The new majority is trying to move as quickly as possible to restart negotiations. The Rosenberg-Anne-Marie Johnson lawsuit obviously put a slight cloud over that picture. Today’s resolution essentially removes any doubt about the legality of the dismissal of Allen and the replacement of [David] White and [John] McGuire and the task force.”
Quelling more legal action on Rosenberg’s behalf will likely open the door to restarting negotiations of SAG’s film and TV contract with the AMPTP.
Diamond said getting back to the boardroom should be SAG’s top priority and the AMPTP might be ready to budge. “It’s not entirely clear what the message is that’s coming from the AMPTP. They had said they had put their last, best and final offer on the table. It would seem that that’s not actually the case. They had scheduled two days of talks which were delayed…. That would obviously indicate some willingness to move.”
The guild is also preparing to negotiate its commercials contract with the Joint Policy Committee on Broadcast Talent Union Relations of the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies beginning February 23.
SAG and AFTRA’s joint national board agreed on Sunday to negotiate the commercials contract jointly under Phase One, the unions’ joint bargaining agreement. Rosenberg, Allen, and other SAG leaders were appalled last March when AFTRA leaders chose to suspend Phase One in order to sign a separate primetime TV contract with the AMPTP.
“I would think the AFTRA issue is not on the front burner, but it’s not on the back burner,” Diamond added. “Of course, there was a great deal of tension between Doug Allen and AFTRA…. That was at the heart of the Doug Allen regime…. The continued use of Phase One would likely lead to talks between the key figures of SAG and AFTRA about the possibility of merger. The real question though is with the interim NED and fall elections coming up, whether [merger] would be put on the table formally. I think not.”