SAG-AFTRA Cuts Staff For Third Time During Pandemic, Offers More Dues Relief To Members In Financial Distress

SAG-AFTRA said today that it has further reduced its workforce “across most operations and locals” through a combination of early retirements and job eliminations. This is the union’s third workforce reduction since the pandemic and production shutdown began in mid-March, and will bring the number of its employees to about 400 nationwide.

“Someday, this crisis will end,” said David White, the union’s national executive director. “For now, with cases spiking across the country and a second global surge possible this winter, we must take steps to further align expenses with anticipated revenues. Adjusting our staff size is difficult and painful, but unavoidable. I thank each and every person for their service and dedication to SAG-AFTRA members. We will continue to maximize all of our resources and deliver on our core functions while maintaining excellent service to members and move toward a leaner and more efficient operation.”

“We must act wisely and prudently to ensure a strong union while remaining a fierce and steadfast advocate for our members who also are facing COVID-19 related challenges,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Our work over the last decade resulted in responsible fiscal management and consistent budget surpluses. Because of those surpluses, and with additional expense management, we are positioned to withstand the pandemic and serve our members for generations to come.”

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In a statement to members tonight, White and Carteris said:

“We take this step in response to the accelerating impact of the pandemic on the union’s current and future financial condition. We live in extraordinary times. Across America, our people and institutions face unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to ravage our communities. SAG-AFTRA is no different in this respect. Our leadership and staff have confronted decisions in the past six months that are necessary to ensure that our union emerges from this period well-positioned to protect and empower our membership for generations to come.

“After many years of disciplined financial management, we were able to build up the reserves which allows our organization to be well positioned to endure a period such as this. However, as we are all painfully aware, the production shutdown over the last seven months has shattered earnings across nearly all sectors of our membership.

“This has had a significant effect on the union’s budget during this fiscal year, but will have its most acute impact on our revenue in the next fiscal year. That is because each dues period is based on the previous year’s earnings under our contracts. Therefore, next year’s revenue for the union will reflect diminished members earnings from this year due to the production shutdown. In other words, even as production ramps up again, our fiscal situation will continue to show the impact of the industrywide shut down next year, and possibly beyond.

“This is why decisive action now is necessary. By anticipating the continued impact of COVID-19 on our industry and membership, we can protect and preserve the organization and its ability to support and serve members.

“Even as we reduce expenses, we remain laser-focused on delivering essential services, protection and support to members as we return to work. We will also continue to prioritize expanding work opportunities and advocating for legislation that focuses on the needs of our membership and industry.”

The union said the workforce reduction and other steps it’s taking – including an extension of its current dues relief program for members – are being undertaken “to help mitigate the significant financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting industry shutdown” and “to conserve resources and further strengthen the union’s financial position.”

Acting on recommendations from the union’s Finance and Executive Committees, the SAG-AFTRA national board approved a modification and extension to the current dues relief program for the November 2020 semi-annual dues period, allowing members in financial distress to request – either online or by checking a box on their dues bills – an extension of the due date for payment of dues and an installment plan for those payments. “All members, regardless of a request, will benefit from a waiver of late fees for this dues period,” the union said in a statement.

Members should expect to receive their November 2020 semi-annual dues bills as usual, and the union is encouraging those members who are able to do so to pay their regular semi-annual dues on time in November.

“Upon request, members experiencing financial hardship will be granted a due date extension and allowed to pay the current November 2020 semi-annual dues bill in two equal installments,” SAG-AFTRA said. “Members seeking the extension are encouraged to request dues extension as soon as possible once they’ve received their dues bill, and no later than December 10, 2020. Members must pay each of the two installment payments by the due dates of January 4, 2021, and April 2, 2021. Late fees will not resume until May 2021.”

The union said it will “continue to monitor this unprecedented situation closely and will take appropriate measures as needed to protect SAG-AFTRA’s membership and operational strength and stability.”

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