Actors Union Shuffles Executives, Reducing Power of Legacy AFTRA

David White, SAG-AFTRA national excutive director

At its executive board meeting, the union also heard reports about ongoing preparation for contract negotiations.

SAG-AFTRA is streamlining the structure of its top organization, reducing the number of executives who directly report to national executive director David White, and in the process effectively subordinating several former AFTRA executives who previously reported to White. The move continues an evolution of staffing in the almost two years since the two unions merged that has seen a reduction in the influence of legacy AFTRA employees.

The moves, which take effect Feb. 17, were announced at Saturday’s meeting of the union’s national board. They include title changes for a number of the organization’s top executives. With the promotions, only two of 11 executives reporting to White will be from the ranks of former AFTRA employees. The others are all former SAG employees.

In announcing the changes, White said, “I am pleased with the great direction that we have forged in so many of our operational areas, and these changes are intended to continue that progress. We are stable and moving in the right direction.”

A union spokesperson declined to say whether the title changes were accompanied by salary increases. Unions are required to report compensation on an annual federal report called the LM-2, but SAG-AFTRA’s next such report isn’t due until this summer.

Also at the meeting, union president Ken Howard updated board members on the Wages and Working Conditions (W&W) meetings that have been taking place across the country in preparation for the upcoming Theatrical/Television-Exhibit A contracts negotiations, which have not yet been scheduled. The current contract expires June 30, 2014.

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Howard recently attended W&W meetings in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and will continue visiting other locals across the country during the process.

“Attending these W&Ws is a great personal experience,” Howard said. “Members are actively engaged and interested. It is everything that our national W&W process is supposed to be -- collaborative, open and member-driven.”

The board voted to seat the remaining members and alternates of the contract negotiating committee. Chair Howard and several vice chairs were previously seated. The committee has 17 members and 13 alternates. The union did not release the names of the additional members.

Secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino and chief financial officer Arianna Ozzanto reported on second-quarter results, indicating what a union statement called “better than expected revenue with expenses tracking closely to budget.”

Ozzanto also reported on several real estate matters including a finance committee recommendation in favor of approving a lease renewal package for the union’s Los Angeles headquarters office at 5757 Wilshire Blvd. Meanwhile, White also reported on the grand opening of the union’s new New York office at 1900 Broadway. The board meeting was held by video link between the Los Angeles and New York offices.

Board members voted to fill two trustee vacancies on the SAG-Producers Pension & Health Plans with member Mandy Steckelberg and SAG-AFTRA chief contracts officer Ray Rodriguez.

Under the new executive staff structure, chief administrative officer and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland becomes chief operating officer and general counsel; assistant national executive director (ANED) news & broadcast Mary Cavallaro becomes chief broadcast officer; ANED communications Pamela Greenwalt becomes chief communications & marketing officer; Rodriguez, formerly ANED contracts, becomes chief contracts officer; executive director human resources & administration Martha Holdridge becomes chief human resources officer; and executive director information technology Daniel Inukai becomes chief information officer. All report to White.

Associate national executive director Mathis Dunn; chief economist David Viviano; chief financial officer Ozzanto; executive producer, SAG awards & national programming Kathy Connell; and senior advisor John McGuire remain in those roles and continue to report to White.

Cavallaro and Dunn are former AFTRA executives; the others are all former SAG. ANED contracts Joan Halpern Weise and ANED sound recordings Randy Himes, who previously reported to White and were both former AFTRA executives, will now report to Rodriguez. ANED organizing Philip Denniston (former AFTRA), ANED industry relations Deborah Skelly (former SAG) and ANED locals Linda Dowell (former SAG) will report to Dunn.

White also provided an update on the recently concluded 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. The show garnered 4.6 million viewers on TNT and TBS, 2.5 million international viewers and was made available to 1 million members of our military on the Armed Forces Network.

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