Monday, January 26, 2009

SAG National Executive Director Firing – How it Went Down

The SAG board’s moderate majority fired National Executive Director Doug Allen today by using a document signed by board members and called a “written assent.” Much to my surprise, Allen chose not to fight and instead emailed the SAG staff acknowledging that he had been terminated and saying goodbye. A copy of the email is below.

Perhaps one reason Allen agreed so readily is that—as has not previously been reported—the assent provides that his contract will be paid out in full. The assent itself has not previously been released. However, I’ve received a copy. See below.

A natural question is how the process unfolded. I spoke to two sources close to the situation who laid out the following narrative:

At around 11:00 a.m. Monday morning, a group of board members went to SAG’s LA headquarters. The group included Unite for Strength leader Ned Vaughn, NY board member Sam Freed, board members Ken Howard, Pamela Reed, Stacey Travis, Gabrielle Carteris and two others whose names I don’t know.

The group, which was not accompanied by counsel, presented the written assent to SAG General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and SAG outside counsel Bob Bush—both of whom SAG President Alan Rosenberg had allegedly derided two weeks ago as “liars” who “don’t know what [they’re] talking about.”

Crabtree-Ireland and Bush withdrew for 15-20 minutes with the document while the actors waited in the Foundation Room. The two lawyers then returned and acknowledged that the document was in order. Doug Allen then came to the meeting room and asked the actors if there was anything that any of them wanted to say to him directly. There was an awkward silence, then one of the actors answered “Thank you for your service.” Allen replied “You’re welcome,” then stalked out, slamming the door.

Also worth noting: The written assent also dissolves the Negotiating Committee and replaces it with a 10-member task force. The Hollywood members include three Membership First partisans: SAG President Alan Rosenberg, 1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson, and board member Clancy Brown; plus independent board member Morgan Fairchild, and Unite for Strength leader and board alternate Ned Vaughn.

Thus, Membership First retains a majority of the Hollywood membership on the task force, just as they have within the Hollywood Division board itself (though not the national board). One hopes that they’ll use their presence constructively, not obstructively. New York members of the task force are 2nd VP Sam Freed and board members Mike Hodge and Matt Servitto. The Regional (RBD) members are Mike Pniewski and Nancy Duerr.


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From: Doug Allen

Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 1:02 PM

To: Everyone Everywhere

Subject: Message from Doug Allen

I have been informed by SAG counsel that the National Board has terminated my employment as National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator of Screen Actors Guild. I am disappointed in the board’s decision, which was made by written assent, and I am proud of my record as SAG’s NED and Chief Negotiator.

I wish Screen Actors Guild and its members success and I have been honored to serve them. I have particularly enjoyed leading the wonderful men and women on the SAG staff and serving with SAG’s National President Alan Rosenberg and National Secretary-Treasurer Connie Stevens.

I have made some wonderful friendships with many SAG elected leaders, members and staff and will cherish those friendships forever.

My best wishes to you all,

Doug Allen


[Here’s the written assent]

Pursuant to the Screen Actors Guild Constitution, Article V, Section 1. (J.) (4.), the following actions are hereby authorized through written assent by a majority of the members of the SAG National Board of Directors.

I. Effective immediately, Doug Allen is terminated as an employee of Screen Actors Guild. Upon receipt of this document, he is to cease and desist in all work on behalf of this union. He is no longer the National Executive Director and has no authority to take any action, make any statement on behalf of this union or direct any Guild employee to take any action. Nor may he authorize the expenditure of any moneys which the Guild possesses. He is to immediately vacate the premises under the supervision of Bob Bush or, in his absence, such other person that the General Counsel may select, and may remove only his personal effects. Further, he is no longer Chief Negotiator of the TV/Theatrical or Commercials Contracts. The compensation due him under his contract will be paid in full, through its expiration date. This order will commence and satisfy any notice period regarding his employment termination applicable under his employment agreement.

II. Effective immediately, David White, former General Counsel of Screen Actors Guild, is hereby engaged as the Interim National Executive Director of Screen Actors Guild. In light of the vacuum created by the termination of NED Doug Allen, and the precarious position the Guild finds itself in, we deem it critical to hire an Interim NED with the industry experience, professional skills, and familiarity with the Guild’s operations to immediately help us return this union to a stable footing.

III. Effective immediately, John T. McGuire, the Senior Adviser to Screen Actors Guild is hereby named Chief Negotiator for all contracts. In light of the vacuum created by the termination of Doug Allen, we deem it critical to appoint a Chief Negotiator with the professional skills, and standing in the industry to immediately step in and successfully complete the TV/Theatrical negotiations, the uncompleted Basic Cable, Animation and Interactive Agreements, and lead us through the imminent Commercial Contract negotiations. Mr. McGuire will, in consultation with Mr. White, be responsible for all contract negotiations and enforcement.

IV. Effective immediately until the October 2009 National Board Plenary, Guideline II of the National Committee Guidelines (dealing with Taskforces) is suspended.

V. Effective immediately, the TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee is disbanded and is no longer authorized to continue negotiations on the TV/Theatrical Agreement or, because of its interrelated nature, the Live Action Basic Cable Agreement. In its place, a Taskforce is hereby formed to complete these negotiations on behalf of the Board of Directors. The Taskforce shall be comprised of the following 10 Members: HWD; Alan Rosenberg, Anne-Marie Johnson, Clancy Brown, Morgan Fairchild, Ned Vaughn, NY; Sam Freed, Mike Hodge, Matt Servitto, RBD; Mike Pniewski, Nancy Duerr, and 10 Alternates (to attend only if needed and at request of absent member): HWD; Stacey Travis, Leigh French, Jane Austin, NY; John Rothman, Sam Robards, RBD: Roy Costley, Molly Ballard, Abby Dylan, Katherine Howell, Mary McDonald-Lewis. The Taskforce will work with the Chief Negotiator, John McGuire, with the assistance of Ray Rodriguez and any staff of their choosing, to complete these negotiations and bring their recommendations back to the National Board.

VI. Effective immediately, no one other than the Interim National Executive Director and John T. McGuire, or their designee, is authorized to communicate on behalf of Screen Actors Guild to other organizations, the general public or the press on any subjects whatsoever, including the actions contained in this document. This pertains to all SAG staff and elected officers.

VII. Michelle Bennett and all staff in the Governance Department, under guidance from the Guild’s general counsel, are hereby instructed to develop and implement a fraud-proof security system to regulate the use of the voting remotes used by Board members to cast their votes.

VIII. Effective immediately, the Guild retains the law firm of Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers LLP to advise the National Board and represent the Guild in negotiation of the terms of a written contract with David White. The Guild further authorizes the payment of $10,000 to Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers LLP as a deposit toward costs and fees incurred by the Guild, with the balance to be refunded to the Guild upon the termination of the firm's services.

IX. If any of the actions contained herein is deemed unenforceable under the Constitution and Bylaws of the Guild, all other actions shall remain valid and shall be implemented.

X. These actions are being authorized by separate written agreements of a majority of the members of the National Board of Directors pursuant to Article V, Section 1. (J.) (4.) of the SAG Constitution and Bylaws.

As provided for by Article V, Section 1. (J.) (4.) of the SAG Constitution and Bylaws, I hereby give my written assent to the foregoing resolution in its entirety.

Signature __________________________________ Date ____________________

Board Member (Print Name) ___________________________________

Division ____________________________

Vote Weight ________