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In an unusual — but under the circumstances, unsurprising — move, SAG-AFTRA’s approximately 80-member board of directors voted 93.73 percent to 6.27 percent to delegate all of its authority to the organization’s executive committee due to the impossibility of holding in-person meetings during the coronavirus pandemic and the impracticality of holding large meetings even electronically, the union announced Tuesday.
Among the delegated powers granted by board members across the country is the right to approve multi-employer collective bargaining agreements and submit them to the membership at large for ratification. The current SAG-AFTRA agreement expires June 30, but the feasibility of bargaining — which entails meetings of about a hundred negotiators from around the country — is at best unclear. (The Writers Guild of America’s talks, which were scheduled to begin Monday, are currently on hold.)
SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris announced the board’s action saying, “This resolution reflects the determination of SAG-AFTRA’s elected leaders to protect its members quickly during this constantly evolving global crisis.”
Also mentioned explicitly is the development of a program for relief from dues payments and late charges and “special rules and procedures relating to the leniency process with respect to the termination of membership for non-payment of dues.”
Even the executive committee is large, at 38 representatives, but that’s half the size of the board.
More than 96 percent of the votes of the board were cast in the electronic poll. The motion was presented to the board with the unanimous recommendation of the President, the National Officers and the Executive Committee.
Read the resolution:
NATIONAL BOARD RESOLUTION RE: COVID-19 EMERGENCY
[Approved by National Board by E-mail Poll 03/24/2020]
WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020, a national state of emergency due to coronavirus disease was declared by the United States Federal Government, and
WHEREAS, health authorities have recommended that no groups of more than ten individuals should meet until further notice, and
WHEREAS, several major U.S. cities and metro areas are now in “shelter in place” status, with all travel restricted and residents required to remain at home except for specified purposes, and
WHEREAS, many industry employers have suspended all production activities and ceased employment, resulting in economic consequences to SAG-AFTRA members; and
WHEREAS, government programs designed to address the economic crisis resulting from this disaster are only beginning to ramp up, and their ultimate success is as yet unknown; and
WHEREAS, access to most SAG-AFTRA offices is now suspended except for emergent or critical functions, and
WHEREAS, due to the constantly changing nature of this emergency and the need to address matters in real time, it is not feasible to conduct substantive discussions on complex and sensitive, confidential matters in the National Board by purely digital means, and
WHEREAS, service to the membership of SAG-AFTRA and the conduct of SAG-AFTRA business must continue despite the state of emergency, especially with respect to our core functions of negotiations, contract enforcement, organizing, and collection and distribution of payments to performers; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to Art. IX(2)(a) of the SAG-AFTRA Constitution, the Executive Committee has “authority to act on matters that require attention in intervals between meetings of the National Board”; and
WHEREAS, it would be irresponsible not to take swift action to ensure that decision-making authority is in place to make prompt and timely decisions in this time of great and ever-changing challenge; and
WHEREAS this resolution is recommended unanimously by the President, the National Officers, and the Executive Committee, and the finance-related provisions are also recommended unanimously by the Finance Committee;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the National Board of SAG-AFTRA as follows:
1. The National Board acknowledges and reaffirms the Executive Committee’s Constitutional authority to act as necessary to address matters between meetings of the National Board and in light of these extraordinary circumstances; and
2. Pursuant to its authority under Art. IV of the Constitution, the National Board authorizes the Executive Committee to establish a program for relief from dues, late payment charges, and other related matters. Authority is also hereby delegated to the Executive Committee to adopt special rules and procedures relating to the leniency process with respect to the termination of membership for non-payment of dues.
3. The National Board hereby delegates authority to the Executive Committee to consider and adopt the union’s budget for fiscal year 2021 pursuant to its authority under Art. V(C)(2)(a) and V(C)(2)(u) of the Constitution; and
4. The National Board hereby delegates authority to the Executive Committee to consider and approve and submit to the members for ratification multi-employer collective bargaining agreements (pursuant to Art. XI(B)(1)), to approve waivers and amendments (pursuant to Art. XI(C)), to appoint Wages and Working Conditions and Negotiating Committees (pursuant to Art. XI(A)(1)) and approve proposal packages (pursuant to Art. XI(A)(2), and to act with the delegated authority of the National Board for all purposes set forth in Art. XI; and
5. In light of the national emergency, the National Board hereby delegates authority to the Executive Committee to take such other actions as may normally be under the exclusive authority of the National Board, pursuant to Art. V(C)(2)(u) of the Constitution; and
6. The President and National Executive Director’s decision to postpone the April National Board meeting to a date to be determined is hereby ratified.