ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE
ACTOR: TWO TIME PRESIDENT OF THE SCREEN ACTORS GUILD. Ed Asner is a television legend, the winner of seven acting Emmy Awards
ACTOR: CLANCY BROWN, best known for his appearances in "Cowboys and Aliens", "The Highlander", and numerous television shows, ranging from "E.R." and "The Jackie Chan Adventures" to the voice immortalized in such beloved children shows as SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Superman, and numerous video games, was an immediate past elected member of the SAG National Executive Board
ACTOR, PRODUCER DIRECTOR One of the original cast members on the first three episodes of "Saturday Night Live" (1975) in 1975. After that, he made several more uncredited appearances on the show during the first season, including the prison warden in the classic Lifer Follies sketch. Attended both New York's Hofstra University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Dennis Hayden was born and raised in Kansas he is one of 5 brothers and one sister raised on a hog and soybean farm. He worked the wheat harvest during summers off from high school,graduating in 1970. Played football, where he became the number one tackle in the state of Kansas. After 8 scolarship offers he chose Fort Scott Junior College; that didn't work out so at age 19 he headed west where he got involved in theater, commercials, TV and films.
ACTOR, PRODUCER Tom was the Lifelong Achievement Honoree and was awarded "The Sophia" by the 2011 Syracuse International Film Festival recognizing him for all of his work and outstanding dedication to the Festival. Tom won the "Best Actor" award at the Hollywood Film Festival-2012 for a short entitled "A Good Thing".
Writer, Actor, Director, Producer William Richert is a movie director, screenwriter and producer who has also acted in the movies and TV. Born in Florida in 1942, he moved to Los Angeles when he was 17 and got his start making documentaries. His first feature film as a director was the JFK-assassination satire Winter Kills,
Comedian, Actor, Producer,Writer
ACTOR Terrence is a graduate of the Pasadena Playhouse ('57), and was their "Man of the Year", in 2011. He earned his Equity card in a production of "The Dybbuk", directed by Morris Ankrum, on the Playhouse's Main Stage('62). He subsequently got an MFA in Theatre from Brandeis University ('76). His 36 years in LA have fostered a career in Film/TV/commercials.
ACTOR, SOUNDTRACK, PRODUCER Rough'n'tumble character actor Ed O'Ross was born as Ed Oross on July 4, 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was an alter boy as a kid and graduated from Munhall High in 1964. Following graduation O'Ross attended both Point Park College and Carnegie Tech. He was an amateur Golden Gloves boxing champion and minor league baseball player prior to embarking on an acting career.
ACTOR, WRITER, PRODUCER
ACTOR Stage - Over 40 featured and starring roles in Off and Off-Broadway, Regional Theatre & Equity Waiver. Complete theatre résumé available on request.Training – MFA Cal Arts. Additional: José Quintero, David Alexander, Michael Shurtleff, Alexander Mackendrick. Dialects, Guitarist, Stage Combat.
ACTOR, WRITER, DIRECTOR, PRODUCER
OSBURN, by then the elected Business Representative of the Hollywood Sound Union, IATSE Local 695,
WRITER, ACTOR, PRODUCER
Click on Actors Photo's and click on link and that will put you to most IMBD Pages
Independent creative thinking goes into every CEO Actor/Artist we are not factory workers so please SAG-AFTRA, WGA, DGA. Quit trying to turn us into Factory Workers!!!!!.
The Hollywood Ten were: Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner, Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo.
Listen to a little Markley bro.music wihile reading.Or not.>>>
Unitedscreenactoscommittee is neither endorsed nor funded by Screen Actors Guild. I saved up my foriegn levies for 3 years to buy this website.
Morales, 50, said that he supports former SAG President Ed Asner’s suit filed in May, which charges the leadership with mishandling the residuals and foreign royalty payments to members, and would welcome the light it could shine on SAG-AFTRA’s finances.
"The lawsuit is very interesting....WOW...as a former program administrator for multi-million dollar programs I'd have a hard time believing that any major entity would have an accounting system that couldn't track every penny of income (foreign or domestic) and exactly where it came from and to which category it should be tracked for subsequent proper disbursal.
Even if they later co-mingled everything into a new category they should still have initial income records. And if they don't ....that alone should be cause for charges of ineptitude or dereliction or attempting to hide funds for purpose of deception
Union Member's Bill of Rights
Equal rights and privileges to nominate candidates, to vote in elections or referendums, and to attend and participate in union meetings and vote on the business of the meeting, subject to reasonable rules in the union constitution and/or bylaws;
Freedom of speech and assembly, including the right to:
criticize union officials;
express any viewpoint at union meetings (subject to reasonable rules of conduct);
distribute literature outside the union hall or inside the hall if members cannot reasonably be reached from outside;
hold separate meetings without interference from union officials;
The right to secret ballot vote on rates of dues, initiation fees, and assessments;
The right to sue the union, without reprisal, if internal appeals do not produce a satisfactory result within four months, or if you disagree with the union's decision;.................................................
USAC anti-corruption fighters -- we're not a "committee" connected to any institution but a wholly-independent self-formed and ultimately numberless committee of CEO/Actors, insisting on taking charge of our destiny
If white is at 541 when you tack on his benefits … other page on lm2 — he’s prob close to 750-800 …….
Click on Photo for full story
The Shit that come's out of Crabtree-Ireland also defended how the “foreign royalty” funds are distributed, reiterating the position that members would not have received the funds without the union’s efforts.
IF we wouldn’t have found your foreign levie money that the Studios have been stealing for decades, and SAG negotiated a 50 50 deal (your Money) with the Studio’s and then don’t tell the members till you are forced in court. That’s like witnessing someone losing their wallet and keeping it till some witness say’s hey did you give them back there wallet, no but if I do I will keep 99 percent cause us one per centers deserve it. Well if everyone wouldn’t have made up all the Illegal contracts in the first place this money would have ended up in the artist hands and paid taxes and lived happily.
It's ok to lautgh at polical hummor, and then get pissed off and do something about it. F the Bullshit.
Aug. 8th 2013
Hey SAG, I mean you guys, yes -- before you sucked up AFTRA -- when you first found out about the foreign levies money and discovered that that the other two Guilds and the Studios were stealing our money and hiding it from all the Artists, why didn’t you go after the Studios and the Corporations that own them, instead of letting them off the hook to negotiate A 50/50 deal with the thieves and screw the Members and Nonmember actors out of the right to their foreign levies money? Answer that one will you?!
BigD Answer: We would rather give Multi Millions of Dollars to the Union Lawyers instead of SAG Artist and Non Members.
When I say I love my guild that doesn’t mean I like the Union It turned into, as I say I love my country that doesn’t mean I like the government that it turned into.
Why can't SAG-AFTRA members, get a job in the Union Hall? What are you hiding that you don't allow Actors working in the Union Business ?
SAG/AFTRA is a useless, toothless union run by a has-been actor, Ken Howard, who couldn't care less about working actors. And David White is an empty 3-piece suit who is paid hundreds of thousands a year for doing virtually nothing for actors. The union has fired so many staff that it is completely unable to process paperwork, including the residuals that so many actors depend on to live. The merger between the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA retained the worst aspects of AFTRA and discarded the best aspects of SAG. Today, this union allows production companies and networks to require things of actors that it wouldn't have even contemplated 10 or 15 years ago. Some production companies actually get away with not paying talent by playing a shell game with the money and simply changing their names. SAG/AFTRA knows this, but does NOTHING! No production company gets shut down for perpetrating this abuse. I'm not a member of this union but, if I was, I would be suing it for not fulfilling its fiduciary responsibilities to its dues-paying membership. And I would be calling for Ken Howard's sizable head.
SAG-AFTRA Approve new Film&TV Production
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES AND DOCUMENTS SHOW HOW SAG RECORDS WERE SEALED--AND LEFT SEALED BY THE CLASS ATTORNEY IN SPITE OF A JUDGE'S CONCERN THAT THEY BE OPENED FOR ACTORS' REVIEW
ARTISTS and writers and directors whose movies or videos have been released throughout the world have at least some foreign royalties collected by Hollywood's WGA or the Screen Actors Guild or the Directors Guild.
The "Guilds," which are really AFL-CIO union affiliates with leaders independent of membership after decades of member deceit and embezzlement -- receive and disburse millions of dollars each year from little "royalties" for screenwriters actors and directors which add up tens of millions of dollars -- but are not accounted for and are still not accounted for, even though settlements have been made. They are bogus, it turns out, even mine -- or especially mine.
My class action WILLIAM RICHERT VS WGAW was intended to shine a light into their vaults, but the lawyers took the money first and left the clients in the dark. There will be a hearing September 5 at the LA Superior Court on a few of the issues which are complex, which is how they covered it all up for so long. But here we have me and Dennis Hayden and Axel Vendel for Paris and Kyle Morris for New York and maybe soon Barry Germansky will provide a minute from Toronto and then minutes from others may shout out for justice in the way LA unions deal with both members and non-members -- since all internet "media" now falls within WGAw jurisdiction -- according to them -- and it is a constraint we do not wish to endure.
WGAw members have shunned this lawsuit and tried to block it at every turn, even though money has been taken from them by those they trusted and the Board of Directors is privy to the whole corrupt thing. Too bad this is not more astonishing tha
This is the court transcript showing Judge West thought the settlement had a bad smell to it, and where I made it clear I didn't trust my lawyers or the process as it was proceeding. I actually quit the case and went back when I found out only Neville Johnson and his ilk would be representing ALL American writers in the courtroom. Imagine that; no don't.
SAG Owes You Money
Hey Tom Cruise, Johnny Carson, George Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Channing Tatum And Others: SAG Owes You Money But Can’t Find You
Click on the finger for full Story
For SAG actors only, and not-for-hire and non-unionized screenwriters; way too boring for others. Made this flip book before Judge West sealed all the foreign levy records of the millions owed SAG actors earlier than 2010. Imagine that. Nobody can find out where the money went or how much or who sent it -- and we know that it was BEFORE 2010 that DVDs made the most money overseas, as the movies were better back then, before the 100 day killer WGA strike against the industry. SAG's lawyer Neville Johnson ignored the request from the Judge that he "carry the burden" of unsealing the SAG records, but Mr. Johnson followed the lead of SAG lawyers and kept his mouth shut when Judge West retired and Judge Wiley took over the case. Long and complicated story. Posting this because I just found it, part of the record of illicit dealings at the Hollywood "sister" unions
The head of SAG-AFTRA is now the target of a federal lawsuit involving a collusion/conversion investigation. This is significant, and opens a pathway to justice for the tens of thousands of American actors, directors and writers who've had money taken from them, along with the right to work without interruption or fear.
LAW OFFICE OF HELENA S. WISE HELENA S. WISE, State Bar No. 91163 1907 W. Burbank Blvd., Suite 101
Burbank, CA 91506 Tel: (818) 843-8086 Facsimile: (818) 843-7958 email@example.com
Attorney for Plaintiffs ED ASNER, CLANCY BROWN, GEORGE COE, TOM BOWER, DENNIS HAYDEN, WILLIAM RICHERT, LOUIS REEKO MESEROLE, TERRENCE BEASOR, ALEX MCARTHUR, ED O'ROSS, ROGER CALLARD, STEVEN BARR,
RUSSELL GANNON, STEPHEN WASTELL, JAMES A. OSBURN, and ERIC HUGHES aka JON WHITELEY, collectively known as the United Screen Actors Committee (USAC)
ED ASNER, CLANCY BROWN, GEORGE COE, TOM BOWER, DENNIS HAYDEN, WILLIAM RICHERT, LOUIS REEKO MESEROLE, TERRENCE BEASOR, ALEX MCARTHUR, ED O'ROSS, ROGER CALLARD, STEVEN BARR, RUSSELL GANNON, STEPHEN WASTELL, JAMES A. OSBURN, and ERIC HUGHES aka JON WHITELEY, collectively known as the United Screen Actors Committee (USAC),
COMPLAINT FOR RELIEF:
1) FOR EXAMINATION
OF BOOKS, RECORDS AND FOR AN ACCOUNTING
(29 U.S.C. §431)
3) UNJUST ENRICHMENT
4) VIOLATIONS OF BUSINES AND PROFESSIONS CODE § 17200, ET SEQ.
JURY TRIAL DEMANDED
SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TELEVISION AND RADIO ARTISTS, a labor organization commonly known as SAG-AFTRA and its GUILD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REALIZATION, LLC,
Plaintiffs by and through their counsel, based. on their experiences, the investigation of counsel, and on information and belief, allege as follows:
1. Plaintiffs ED ASNER, CLANCY BROWN, GEORGE COE, TOM BOWER, DENNIS HAYDEN, WILLIAM RICHERT, LOUIS REEKO MESEROLE, TERRENCE BEASOR, ALEX MCARTHUR, ED O'ROSS, ROGER CALLARD, STEVEN BARR, RUSSELL GANNON, STEPHEN WASTELL, JAMES A. OSBURN, and ERIC HUGHES aka JON WHITELEY, as individuals, collectively known as the United Screen Actors Committee (USAC), do hereby bring this action against the SCREEN ACTORS GUILD — AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TELEVISION AND RADIO ARTISTS (SAG-AFTRA), a labor organization, within the meaning of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 ("LMRA "), as amended, 29 U.S. C. Section 141, et seq., because of the failure and refusal of SAG-AFTRA by and through
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
its retained leadership to comply with a labor organization's obligations under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 ("LMRDA")(29 USC sCsC 401, et seq) which were enacted by Congress to eliminate or prevent improper practices, including a breach of trust, corruption, disregard of the rights of individual employees and other failures to observe high standards of responsibility and ethical conduct on the part of labor organizations, employers, labor relations consultants; and their officers and representatives, which distort and defeat the policies of the LMRDA.
2. Plaintiffs ED ASNER, CLANCY BROWN, GEORGE COE, TOM BOWER, DENNIS HAYDEN, WILLIAM RICHERT, LOUIS REEKO MESEROLE, TERRENCE BEASOR, ALEX MCARTHUR, ED O'ROSS, ROGER CALLARD, STEVEN BARR, RUSSELL GANNON, STEPHEN WASTELL, JAMES A. OSBURN, and ERIC HUGHES aka JON WHITELEY, are, were or have been members of SAG-AFTRA, and/or their predecessor labor organizations and have appeared in signatory motion picture and/or television productions thereby entitling them to receive Residuals because of the continuous airing of these works, in pre and post-60s markets, pursuant to various Collective Bargaining Agreements between various signatory Producers in the entertainment industry, including members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and SAG-AFTRA or their
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
predecessors. Plaintiffs are further informed that once Foreign Countries began enacting laws granting performers an inalienable right to remuneration for the rental and reprography of their performances in audiovisual works, with such remuneration financed from the "Performers Share" of a fund created by enacting levies on devices used in private copying, the retransmission of broadcasts by cable, and the renting out of audiovisual works, certain of those Foreign Countries accorded "National Treatment" to U.S. performers. By so doing, Foreign Countries conferred on performers the same inalienable right to remuneration for the rental and reprography of their performances in "covered" or "signatory" as well as "non-covered" or "non-signatory" audiovisual works when such works are exhibited in those countries.
3. Thereafter, SAG coined the terms, "Foreign Royalties" to reference
the total sums collected, without the authorization or knowledge of U.S. Performers, from the monies which flow from the "Per formers Rights Remuneration" and the tetin "Foreign Levies" to reference not only the SAG-designated "Per formers Share", but a "Producers Share" and a "SAG's share" of the "Performers Rights Remuneration" as well, ignoring that Foreign Countries have already segregated and compensated the Producers for their share of all monies collected. SAG-AFTRA has refused to be accountable for all monies received by the labor union, including but not limited to monies
"passed through to" Producers, regardless of the term used.
4. By actions and inactions hereinafter alleged on the part of the retained leadership and representatives of SAG-AFTRA and their predecessors, including Labor Relations Consultants, the ability of Plaintiffs to receive their Residuals and Foreign Royalties, in a timely fashion, if at all, has been deliberately interfered with, with SAG-AFTRA and their predecessors asserting superior ownership rights to not only collecting all such monies, but in retaining the Residuals and Foreign Royalties themselves, as well as all interest earned on the proceeds thereof, to the ongoing detriment of the membership of SAG¬AFTRA, as well as non-members whose monies have been collected without permission let alone notification from the Labor Union concerning their actions in these regards. SAG-AFTRA and their predecessors have taken these actions and refused to account for monies retained, often claiming an inability to locate the owners of said monies even though said Labor Union(s) knew that said monies should have escheated to the State of California if a labor organization was genuinely unable to locate the rightful owners of said monies after due diligence.
5. Furthermore, to conceal having created a "Producers Share" of the collected Performers Rights Remuneration which it began disbursing to the employers of union members more than a decade before any member received
any portion of let alone the one hundred percent rightfully belonging to U.S. performers, SAG filed a motion in the Los Angeles Superior Court to permanently seal the union's financial records on the Performers Rights Remuneration, citing the need to protect the confidentiality of "non-public information" relating to SAG's "business operations". SAG did so knowing full well that said financial information under Section 205 of the LMRDA "shall be public information", and that SAG was remiss in its obligation.to properly report in its annual LM-2 filings "such detail as may be necessary to disclose its (a labor organization's) financial conditions and operations" (29 U.S.C. 431(b)).
6. Because of SAG's actions in these regards, Plaintiff Clancy Brown,
then a former member of the SAG National Executive Board, along with certain of his colleagues, including Nancy Sinatra, Ed Harris, Martin Sheen, George Coe, and others, believing that the permanent sealing of the records of SAG's receipts and disbursements of the Performers Rights Remuneration to be a flagrant violation of 29 U.S.C. 431(b), served upon SAG National Executive Director DAVID WHITE and SAG Deputy National Executive Director and General Counsel DUNCAN CRABTREE-IRELAND, a letter on December 2, 2011, demanding complete accountability of so-called Foreign Royalties, access to Collective Bargaining Agreements and transparency in Union finances. Of
utmost and urgent concern was the refusal of SAG leadership to even disclose, let alone discuss, the impending expiration and presumed renegotiation and/or renewal of the Foreign Levy Agreement which had previously been described in legal proceedings and in the press as a Collective Bargaining Agreement even though the details of same had never been disclosed to the SAG membership let alone submitted to a vote for ratification. Of further concern, among other things, were incomplete LM-2 Reports filed by SAG, despite requirements of specificity in reporting receipts and disbursements pursuant to the LMRDA, see 29 U.S.C. Section 431(c).
7. When this demand was served, SAG and their accountants, PRICEWATERHOUSE-COOPERS claimed on the annual LM-2 that "$95,205,672" was "held in trust for others" without specifying how that amount had been received or specifying whom the "others" might be that are the rightful owners of this money or how or whether SAG actually returned these funds to "others", the rightful owners. Instead, SAG's LM-2 sought to justify the nondisclosures for "tactical reasons".
8. Concurrently, SAG also failed to disclose with appropriate specificity on the annual LM-2 the relationship with, activities of, or any income or expenses attributable to the recently formed GUILD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REALIZATION, LLC (GIPR) which listed the same business
address as SAG and one if not its only officer as DUNCAN CRABTREE
IRELAND. Because of these events, BROWN and his colleagues believed that a timely and complete disclosure and distribution of the documents and
accounting requested would address many of the members concerns and provide proof of transparency and good-faith by the elected and hired leadership of the union.
9. When CRABTREE-IRELAND responded to the Demand by letter dated December 16, 2011, CRABTREE-IRELAND refused to provide unconditional access to the records, contracts, and agreements requested implying that the entire Board of Directors already knew all details about Union Contracts and Finances including those sought by BROWN and his colleagues. After distributing CRABTREE-IRELAND'S response to his colleagues and conferring about how to proceed, BROWN then replied to CRABTREE¬IRELAND by letter dated January 28, 2012 writing that, "...none of the details provided to the Board of Directors in your (Crabtree-Ireland's) reports ever included the information and documents we are requesting. While on the Board of Directors, our understanding of the nature of the negotiations with foreign collecting societies was limited to how you chose to characterize them. At no time was even the Board of Directors presented or allowed to examine the Foreign Levy Agreement or the various collecting society agreements. These
details which were omitted in your reports are precisely what we wish to be provided." CRABTREE-IRELAND and DAVID WHITE have failed to respond, ever since.
10. Soon after the Merger referendum vote, a few of BROWN's colleagues declined to continue pursuing their rights as union members saying they were fearful of professional reprisal. Meanwhile, BROWN and his remaining colleagues decided to afford the newly constituted labor organization, SAG-AFTRA, the opportunity to become transparent and accountable to the membership. The failure and refusal of SAG-AFTRA to do so became evident again upon the filing of SAG-AFTRA's first LM-2 Report, signed by President Ken Howard and Treasurer Matthew Kimbrough on July 30, 2012, wherein SAG-AFTRA simply claimed that $110,892,389 were now "Funds Held in Trust due to Others\Due to Talent" while also refusing, once again, for "tactical" reasons to detail receipts and disbursements involving said monies, except relative to some payments to particular Labor Consultants purportedly involved with Foreign Royalties. Consequently, USAC renewed earlier demands upon SAG-AFTRA for accountability and transparency in Union finances.by letter addressed to the elected officials of SAG-AFTRA, dated September 11, 2012. In said letter, CLANCY BROWN, ED ASNER and GEORGE COE, along with certain other named Plaintiffs herein, renewed requests for accountability and
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
28 transparency in Union finances relative to all income and expenses, including relative to Foreign Royalties, .but also with respect to Residuals as well in light of public acknowledgements by SAG-AFTRA that tens of thousands of Residuals were "unclaimed" and being held by SAG-AFTRA. These revelations coupled with statements from SAG-AFTRA executives that the labor organization receives two million a day ($2,000,000) in Residuals, while accounting for same remains virtually non-existent, is just as troubling for Plaintiffs in light of the lack of response by SAG-AFTRA to USAC's letter.
11. In the most recent correspondence, USAC also demanded
transparency relative to Labor Consultants who are required to be accountable and free of conflicts of interest when rendering services to labor organizations pursuant to 29 U.S. C. §402(m) and §501, as well as with respect to GIPR which was still refusing to separately account for its assets, income and expenditures. Despite receipt by Union officials of the September 11, 2012 Demand, all efforts to engage in meaningful dialogue, to provide access to Collective Bargaining Agreements and Contracts, and to permit review and a full accounting of financial transactions in these and other regards have been thwarted by Defendant labor organization and its representatives. Plaintiffs request to even meet with the National Executive Board have been rejected by the SAG-AFTRA leadership, including at a time when seats at the October Board meeting were
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
being offered to the membership at large on a "lottery" basis.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
12. This action arises under the LMIRDA, 29 USC §§ 401, et seq., with the Court having subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs First Claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, in light of 29 U.S.C. §,' 431, and may exercise supple¬mental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' remaining state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
13. Venue is proper under 29 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) because a
substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claims asserted occurred in the Central District of California where many Plaintiffs are located, SAG-AFTRA maintains one of its principal offices, certain Defendants reside, where part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claims occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated.
14. Plaintiff ED ASNER is a former President of the Screen Actors
Guild who commenced his impeccable and award winning career as an actor in the 1950s and is touring the county with his one-man show, "F.D.R.", after appearing in "Grace", on Broadway, at the age of 83. ASNER who has won more Emmy's than any other male actor became a household legend as "Lou Grant" in the long running Mary Tyler Moore series and related television spin
off shows, including "Lou Grant" and "Rhoda", and has, over the course of the past half-century, appeared in as well as engaged in voice overs on signatory full length motion pictures, episodic television, animated films, including "Up ", and such beloved Christmas specials as "Elf", thereby entitling Plaintiff Asner to continue receiving substantial Residuals and Foreign Royalties for as long as these artistic works are aired or viewed in their respective markets. Plaintiff ASNER joined CLANCY BROWN and his colleagues when serving the September 11, 2012 Demand Letter upon SAG-AFTRA Co-Presidents Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon and the Board of Directors, and seeks to pursue all available claims for relief on behalf of the SAG-AFTRA membership because of an egregious loss of transparency in Union finances and a resistant indifference on the part of the retained Union leadership and its representatives, including Labor Consultants, to be accountable under the very labor laws SAG¬AFTRA and its predecessors are bound.
15. Plaintiff CLANCY BROWN, best known for his appearances in "Cowboys and Aliens", "The Highlander", and numerous television shows, ranging from "E.R." and "The Jackie Chan Adventures" to the voice immortalized in such beloved children shows as SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Superman, and numerous video games, was an immediate past elected member of the SAG National Executive Board when
serving the first written demand for accountability upon SAG on December 2, 2011. Plaintiff BROWN completed his National Board term and resigned all union committees on which he served in order to assert his rights as a union member without being subject to persecution by the Union and the AFL-CIO with whom SAG-AFTRA is affiliated in light of internal agreements restricting the free speech of SAG Board and committee members.
16,. Plaintiff GEORGE COE, the 2009 recipient of SAG's Ralph Morgan Award for distinguished service, also has an acting career spanning more than fifty years of film, television, commercial and stage work, with Coe's credits including Saturday Night Live, Kramer vs. Kramer, and as the voice of Toyota for six years. Plaintiff COE, who has served on the National Executive Board at various times during his stellar career, seeks to pursue all available claims for relief on behalf of the SAG-AFTRA membership because of an egregious loss of transparency in Union finances and a resistant indifference on the part of the retained Union leadership and its representatives, including Labor Consultants and attorneys, to be accountable under the very labor laws SAG¬AFTRA and its predecessors are bound.
17. Plaintiffs TOM BOWER, DENNIS HAYDEN, WILLIAM
RICHERT, TERRENCE BEASOR, ALEX McARTHUR, ED O'ROSS,
ROGER CALLARD, STEVEN BARR, RUSSELL GANNON, and STEPHEN
28 WASTELL are aware that the many and various episodes of television series, and/or video games, and/or feature length films, in which they and/or their colleagues have appeared remain popular in multiplatform distribution throughout the world and have reason to believe that more Residuals and Performers Rights Remuneration than the minimal sums transmitted to Plaintiffs and/or their colleagues, over the course of the past decade, have been retained by SAG and AFTRA, and now SAG-AFTRA. For instance, The Waltons, Six Feet Under, Desperado and Die Hard, in which TOM BOWER, ED O'ROSS, ALEX McARTHUR and DENNIS HAYDEN appeared respectively have become timeless classics in not only the United States but throughout the world as well. The same can be said for many other features and episodic television series, including General Hospital; Die Hard; Bones; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Jake and the Fat Man; Judging Amy; Matlock; Star Trek: Enterprise; Chicago Hope; Seinfeld; Frasier; Murder, She Wrote; Doogie Howser, MD.; The Fresh Prince of Bel Air; The West Wing; Scarecrow and Mrs. King; CSI; NCIS; The Edge of Night; Beverly Hills, 90210; L.A. Law; JAG; Home Improvement; the X-Files; Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; Crossing Jordan; and Walker, Texas Ranger, to name just a few in which certain of the named Plaintiffs have also appeared.
18. Plaintiffs are further aware that there are certain types of
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
performances in covered audiovisual works and certain types of covered audiovisual works, for example, music videos, for which residuals have never been contracted by any SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreement but for which the Performers Rights Remuneration is collected. ALEX McARTHUR has acted in such music videos, most memorably, opposite Madonna in the classic music video Papa Don't Preach. Although SAG-AFTRA has collected performers rights monies for perfon-nances in music videos, it has never transmitted such monies to the performers who are the rightful owners of such property. Only by providing for a full accounting will Plaintiffs rights as Union members to demand transparency in finances be realized, in light of SAG-AFTRA's interception and conversion for its own purposes of monies belonging to Plaintiffs and their colleagues, on the guise the labor organization has superior ownership rights or was not equipped to disburse monies wrongfully converted in the first place.
19. In addition to credits on popular feature films, television series and video games, Plaintiffs DENNIS HAYDEN, WILLIAM RICHERT, RUSSELL GANNON and LOUIS REEKO MESEROLE are jointly informed and believe that although their well-received version of "The Man in the Iron Mask" remains in wide distribution and is aired frequently internationally as well as in the United States, no Residuals since the first airing have been released, while
Foreign Royalties have been withheld, even though SAG asserted ownership interest over said films purportedly to protect the rights of its members to receive their Residuals. Like these colleagues, STEPHEN WASTELL also claims that monies are due and owing because of his appearance in the independent productions of "The Ghosts of Edendale" and "The Game", both of which WASTELL has reason to believe have been distributed world-wide.
20. Unlike co-Plaintiffs herein who have made acting their chosen profession, Plaintiff JAMES A. OSBURN was a member of the Sound Crew on "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" when chosen by Steven Spielberg to perform a minor speaking part in said film, thereby entitling OSBURN to become a member of SAG. Although OSBURN accepted said invitation and became a member of SAG for a number of years, OSBURN, by then the elected Business Representative of the Hollywood Sound Union, IATSE Local 695, ceased his SAG membership largely because of difficulties OSBURN was encountering because of SAG's interference with Residual checks that was affecting OSBURN's financial wellbeing. Despite same, OSBURN would still be entitled to Residuals and Foreign Royalties, yet OSBURN has not received any notice concerning same, nor did he learn until immediately prior to the filing of the instant lawsuit that OSBUR_N's name is now appearing on the SAG¬AFTRA "Unclaimed Residuals " List, even though OSBURN is and has been the
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
elected Business Representative of IATSE Local 695, including most recently since 1998, and is quite familiar to SAG's outside Labor Counsel for the past several decades. As a Business Representative who also served in said capacity from 1979 through 1990, before becoming the Boom Operator on the Oscar Award-winning James Cameron movie, "Titanic", OSBURN is most familiar with the transparency and reporting requirements that a labor organization is required to adhere to, as well as the criminal penalties that officers and representatives, including Consultants, may be subjected to for failure to comply with federal statutes and regulations in these and other regards, see 29 U.S.C. §431(c).
21. Finally and although ERIC HUGHES aka JON WHITELEY is best known as the screen writer of "Against All Odds" and "White Nights", Plaintiff Hughes has been a member of SAG for more than four decades, having first performed in "Jericho", a World War II movie that continues to be shown in national and foreign markets, including in videotape format. Because HUGHES has been an active member of the Writers' Guild of America, briefly holding the position of President of WGAW and is now a lifetime member, HUGHES has been at all times material herein, privy to and in possession of records showing the multi-millions of dollars collected by the Writers Guild from various foreign collecting societies and thus is informed and believes SAG
and AFTRA and now SAG-AFTRA have grossly understated the amount of Foreign Royalties collected by SAG on behalf of Performers, and other artists, and have deliberately refused to account for same, to the ongoing detriment of members and non-members alike, including on signatory and non-signatory productions.
22. Defendant SAG-AFTRA is a labor organization which General Counsel DUNCAN CRABTREE-IRELAND and National Executive Director DAVID WHITE caused to be incorporated in the State of Delaware on March 30, 2012, although SAG had been a corporation organized in the State of California since its inception in July 1933. Plaintiffs have reason to believe CRABTREE-IRELAND and WHITE have sought to escape the Escheat laws of California which would have required the predecessors of SAG-AFTRA and now SAG-AFTRA to turn over Residuals and Foreign Royalties allegedly "unclaimed" or involving "unable to locate" ("UTL") owners to the State of California which operates a widely publicized program to reunite escheated monies with their rightful owners or heirs.
23. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that the GUILD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REALIZATION, LLC ("GIPR") was established by CRABTREE-IRELAND, even though the tasks assigned to GIPR had traditionally been performed by SAG, including CRABTREE-IRELAND
and his staff. Although GIPR has been separately established, GIPR has failed to file its own Reporting Forms and thus has failed to provide an accounting for all monies handled by GIPR, including additional salaries and expenses attributable to said entity. Only by affording a full and complete audit of the activities and financial transactions involving Defendant GIPR will Plaintiffs and the public be reassured that the funds entrusted to Defendant labor organization, and that all products seized, if at all, on the guise of protecting the labor organization's members, are fully accounted for.
24. Transparency in and accountability of Union finances is further
warranted because of a blatant refusal to disclose expenditures or receipts involving the ENTERTAINMENT STRATEGIES GROUP (ESG) where DAVID WHITE was employed after WHITE departed SAG as its General Counsel in 2005 and from which WHITE returned to SAG to become its Interim National Executive Director, following the arrest of attorney MARC DREIER who controlled ESG. The sentencing alone of DREIER, now serving twenty years in federal prison for a variety of offenses, including investment fraud affecting numerous Union Funds, and the arrest of DREIER for impersonating a representative of a Teacher's Pension Fund in Toronto, California, alone warrants full disclosure, with certain Plaintiffs having reason to believe that
WHITE did not divulge the full extent of ESG's investment schemes, let alone to what degree WHITE and other former SAG employees may have if not continued to commit Labor Union funds to said ventures. In these regards, Plaintiffs note that following his return to SAG, and now as the National Executive Director of SAG-AFTRA, WHITE has ensured the funneling of continued consulting opportunities to SALLIE WEAVER who worked with WHITE at ESG and for which accountability has been actively resisted by WHITE.
25. By affording access to accounting and bank records detailing expenditures and receipts, Plaintiffs will also be able to ascertain the degree to which, if any, fiduciary duties owing to the Union membership have been compromised because of the expenditure of Union funds on First Class travel, including to foreign countries, as well as lavish parties and political events. Similarly disclosure of expenditures involving Consultants who are required to but have failed or refused to file federal reporting forms will demonstrate the extent to which SAG-AFTRA's obligations to its membership, including to preserve and protect the Union's coffers, including from conflicts of interest, have been compromised and if so, by whom.
26. Plaintiffs have reason to believe that commencing in or about 2002, a scheme was concocted by various staff employed by SAG, including its
then Executive Director, ROBERT PISANO, as well as members of its legal staff, including WHITE and CRABTREE-IRELAND, as well as labor consultant ROBERT HADL, all of whom have been traditionally aligned with the interests of management, to confuse the elected leadership of SAG and the membership concerning the role and fiduciary responsibilities of SAG, as a labor organization, in collecting, distributing and accounting for monies owing to performers. Up until said time, SAG had been transparent in its financial matters, detailing receipts and disbursements, including relative to transactions involving monies entrusted to it to secure remuneration owing to its members and non-members on "covered" works with Signatory Producers. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that in or about 2002, SAG's hired leadership started changing its financial practices, thereby causing SAG's Treasurer, Kent McCord, to express concern when signing the LM-2 Report for Fiscal Year 2002, in November 2002.
27. Not long thereafter, the United States Congress expressed its intentions to ensure transparency in union finances, with more detailed reporting requirements thereafter added to the Form LM-2 reports in October 2003, Labor Organization Annual Financial Reports, 68 FR 58374. Although these changes were designed to provide more information to a Union's members in the Union's annual financial reports, SAG, shortly following notice that lawsuits
28 were being threatened against the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) because of their failure to distribute Foreign Royalties to their members, stopped providing detailed information about its receipts and disbursements involving not only Foreign Royalties but Residuals as well, in filed LM-2s and 990s. The SAG leadership, including WHITE and CRABTREE-IRELAND, assured the elected leadership that SAG was fully complying with applicable laws in these regards and thus the SAG elected leadership had no reason to question WHITE and CRABTREE-IRELAND's representations in these regards.
28. Contemporaneously, SAG proclaimed it was successfully
operating a Residual Repayment Program and had been doing so for more than thirty years, with its retained legal counsel, including TAYLOR, ROTH, BUSH & GEFFNER and its successor firms, GEFFNER & BUSH and thereafter BUSH, GOTTLIEB, SINGER, LOPEZ, ADELSTEIN having directly negotiated with the Producers, including the ALLIANCE OF MOTION PICTURE AND TELEVISION PRODUCERS, collective bargaining agreements providing for the continuing payment to SAG members and non¬members of Residuals, if not commencement of the collection of Foreign Royalties as well. By the latter time, JAY ROTH was now firmly entrenched as the National Executive Director of the DGA, having departed TAYLOR,
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
28 ROTH, and was actively making decisions about Foreign Royalties along with HADL that was impacting SAG, as well as the WGA to whom ROTH's firm also rendered legal advice.
29. Plaintiffs have reason to believe that not long after the DGA and
the WGA were threatened with suit because of their withholding of Foreign Royalties, SAG grossly diminished its payment of Residuals and Foreign Royalties, if not suspended payments completely to mask an alterior covert motive to stockpile as part of SAG's own assets undistributed Residuals and Foreign Royalties. Plaintiffs are informed and believe SAG has in turn converted Residuals and Foreign Royalties to its own use, either by diminishing the principal received or the interest earned thereon, to pay increasing salaries to its Executive Officers, to pay for 1st class travel, political events and lavish parties, as well as to provide substantial retainers to outside consultants, including HADL, legal counsel, accounting and Information Technology firms, and companies purportedly engaged in the distribution of Residuals and Royalties, all to the ongoing detriment of the membership. As evidence of same, Plaintiffs note that in 2002, SAG reported on its LM-2, that it was holding only $ 12,085,425, in trust for its members. As of 2011, SAG reported on its LM-2 that said monies had grown to in excess of $95,205,672, while SAG-AFTRA, after one month of operation, purported that the sum being held in these regards,
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
presumably in different accounts, was now in excess of $110,000,000.
30. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that in light of public
statements by SAG as to the amount of monies collected for Foreign Levies between 2008 and present, the sum of which is disputed by Plaintiffs, and the purported disbursement of only $250,000 prior to 2008 and more than
$ 8,000,000 dollars from 2008 through 2010, with both sums disputed by Plaintiffs as well, then by process of deduction the lionshare of the monies SAG-AFTRA claims it is holding in trust are attributable to undistributed Residuals, which SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors claim come into the labor organization to the tune of $2,000,000 per day. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors would never have obtained possession of Residuals to place in trust in the first place without wrongfully endorsing checks issued by signatory Producers directly to performers yet forwarded by the Producers, at the labor organization's insistence, to SAG and AFTRA, solely for tracking purposes so the labor organization could purportedly determine what dues should be charged to its members.
31. By so acting, Defendant SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors have precluded Plaintiffs and others from timely collecting earned Residuals to which they are entitled, even though Producers have issued W-2s to Plaintiffs and others as if the Residual checks were in fact received, when in
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
28 fact SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors have withheld same to the ongoing detriment of members and non-members alike. In these regards, SAG publicly acknowledged in the trades that "unclaimed residuals" had increased from 39,358 in 2004 to 66,848 by 2008 and to 69,184 by 2010. As of April 13, 2012, the unclaimed residuals list had increased to in excess of 75,000. Contemporaneously, SAG leadership, including CRABTREE¬IRELAND has sought to justify the burgeoning retention of Residuals on the premise that SAG cannot locate the heirs or estates of such well known entertainment and/or political icons as Frank Sinatra, John F. Kennedy, Larry Hagman or Sonny Bono, while lacking the ability to send checks owing to the parents of television personality Anderson Cooper, including his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, or his now deceased father, Wyatt Cooper, let alone Ed Asner's son, Matthew Asner who is now the Southern California Executive Director of Autism Speaks.
32. Simultaneously and although WHITE has stated that state-of-the-art equipment nicknamed "Bullwinkle" and "Rocky", has been purchased at a substantial expense to the membership to expedite processing of Residuals, the delay in processing has increased three-fold, relative to checks actually sent to members, while SAG-AFTRA continues to refuse to account for Residuals which have been retained as "unclaimed".
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
33. With respect to Foreign Royalties, at various times commencing in 2008 to present, CRABTREE-IRELAND has been quoted in entertainment magazines as well as the Huffington Post, as stating that the organization over which he now sits as General Counsel, has the authority to collect monies on behalf of its members, including from various collecting societies, but either is without authorization to distribute same to its members, holds superior ownership interests in said monies, or has been thwarted in its distribution efforts due to a purportedly antiquated computer system, even though SAG claimed to have expended several million dollars each year, commencing in 2004 to present, relative to computer hardware, software, and IT maintenance, including from staff and consultants alike, including Dina Kampmeyer, during the same periods of time that the system was purportedly broken. Ironically the purportedly antiquated computer system did not impede SAG's ability to continue to bill and collect dues and assessments from its members, but merely to reunite members with monies clearly due and owing to said performers.
34. The instant demand that SAG-AFTRA, touted as America's premier labor organization, become accountable is further mandated by the inconsistencies and contradictions also inherent in other financial forms which SAG-AFTRA and their predecessors have filed, particularly with respect to receipts, liabilities and disbursements involving Residuals and Foreign
28 Royalties. For instance, review of 990 Forms also filed for the same years as LM-2s show that SAG-AFTRA's predecessors, whose assets and liabilities have purportedly been merged into SAG-AFTRA, have increased their coffers by failing to distribute the monies received in these regards, while any distributions have been minimal if not de minimis when compared to the sizeable and ever increasing expenditures for Labor Consultants, attorneys and accounting firms who do not traditionally handle or represent labor organizations, with PRICEWATERHOUSE COOPERS charging AFTRA in excess of $700,000.00 two years in a row for "consulting" services. Despite same, noticeably absent from AFTRA's filings is any evidence of its actual distribution of Foreign Royalties, while certain Plaintiffs have heard that SAG has held onto monies attributable to works covered under AFTRA's Collective Bargaining Agree¬ments, thereby precluding AFTRA from reuniting its members with monies clearly due and owing to them, prior to merger.
35 Equally disconcerting is the lack of transparency relative to SAG
AFTRA's handling of the "Producer's Share" of Foreign Royalties, let alone the Administrative Fees it has surcharged against Foreign Royalties, if not Residuals, as well. By failing to account for receipts from foreign collecting societies, let alone for the Residual checks endorsed by SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors, and for all disbursements pertaining to both, SAG-AFTRA and its
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
predecessors have precluded members from questioning whether funds have been wrongfully diverted to entities affiliated with or controlled by the Union's leadership, let alone the Producers or its Consultants.
36. Contradictions within the records which have been federally filed are even more glaring in light of a purported "Audit" of Foreign Royalties which PRICEWATERHOUSE COOPERS released on October 15, 2012, after the September 11, 2012 demand served by certain USAC Plaintiffs was acknowledged by SAG-AFTRA's legal counsel. It should be readily apparent that the recent "Audit" was designed to buttress the credibility of WRITE and CRABTREE-IRELAND and SAG relative to its generosity in allegedly surcharging only a 10% administrative fee against Foreign Royalties, at a time when the Producers had purportedly authorized SAG to take 15% of the "Performers share" for its own "institutional and social purposes". Although the Producers negotiated over this subject with SAG, Plaintiffs submit that said actions are in and of themselves inconsistent with the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 ("LMRA "), as amended, 29 U.S.C. Section 141, et seq., which prevents an Employer from enmeshing itself in the internal affairs of a Union. Regardless, Plaintiffs note that the membership of SAG and AFTRA were never told about let alone given the opportunity to ratify the Foreign Levies Agreement nor did SAG's Constitution and By-Laws then authorize an
assessment or surcharge against Residuals or Foreign Royalties.
37. Although the intent of the recently released "Audit" is obvious, it actually reinforces Plaintiffs demand for full accountability and restoration of transparency in Union finances since although it purports to substantiate WHITE and CRABTREE-IRELAND's public announcement that SAG has also generously distributed approximately $8 million in Foreign Royalties since 2008, as well as CRABTREE-IRELAND's earlier statements that only approximately $250,000.00 had been distributed prior thereto, the Union's accountants failed to track prior LM-2s filed in these regards by SAG when SAG was offering greater transparency than WHITE and CRABTREE¬IRELAND have permitted ever since. For instance, while seeking to reaffirm CRABTREE-IRELAND's statements, PRICEWATERHOUSE COOPERS overlooked prior LM-2s which had shown that between 2003 and 2004, SAG claimed to have distributed in excess of $1.2 million in Foreign Royalties. The sudden disappearance of said entry in the recently released "Audit" coupled with SAG-AFTRA's continuing refusal to detail expenses and receipts, including of the total sum of monies received by SAG from Foreign Collecting Societies, before the 50% of the "Performers Share" was subtracted for transmittal to the Producers, and to refuse to detail the distribution of monies to Producers, demonstrates that the "Audit" claim that only approximately 10% was charged
as an Administrative Fee is also unworthy of credence, particularly in light of documented expenditures of in excess of $20 million on computer consultants, hardware, software and IT maintenance, as well as on staff, Labor Consultants and Attorneys purportedly involved directly with Foreign Royalties during the period of time at issue.
38. Contemporaneously, Plaintiffs have reason to believe that SAG collected Foreign Royalties, including on behalf of AFTRA, if not other crafts in the entertainment industry, yet failed and refused to perform its fiduciary duties in ensuring the proper distribution of these monies to AFTRA and possibly other crafts for timely distribution of same directly to its rightful owners or to such other entities designated to ensure that a benefit would inure to the members of the applicable labor organizations. Because of their actions and the deliberate withholding of said monies, while refusing to account for all receipts and disbursements involving Foreign Royalties, Plaintiffs have reason to believe that SAG-AFTRA has now amassed a substantial slushfund that does not belong to the labor organization but instead belongs to members and non-members, and/or their estates, on covered and uncovered works. By withholding said monies and refusing to account for same, SAG-AFTRA has ignored its fiduciary obligations and has effectively loaned money belonging to its members to itself, including principal and interest, and has unlawfully stolen monies belonging to non
members and possibly other crafts in the entertainment industry, despite ample caselaw and criminal statutes condemning such practices. As the United States Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed observed in Knox vs. SEIU, 567 U. S. , in yet another agency shop context, a labor union cannot extract a loan from unwilling nonmembers even if the money is later repaid.
39. In light hereof, Plaintiffs have reason to believe SAG and AFTRA's agents, employees and representatives, including its attorneys and accountants, deliberately engaged in forum shopping for the purpose of incorporating its newly merged organization in Delaware where escheating is only permitted for residents of Delaware. In these regards, it is affirmatively alleged that WHITE, CRABTREE-IRELAND and others knew that practically the entire membership of the new union, SAG-AFTRA, and its predecessor unions, SAG and AFTRA, reside currently and historically in California. Plaintiffs have reason to believe these actions were taken to collect, retain, and withhold member and non-member property by avoiding California escheat laws which have historically obliged SAG to make every effort to unite members (and non-members) with their property or surrender that property to the State of California.
40. Simultaneously, Plaintiffs allege that merger proponents, particularly WHITE and CRABTREE-IRELAND deliberately buried in Merger Documents a change in the Constitution and By-Law which would permit the
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
labor organization to charge and withhold administrative fees from all Residuals and Foreign Royalties collected. Plaintiffs have reason to believe that this change in the Constitution and By-Laws, as embodied in Article IV, Section B and Article XI, Section F, was designed to exculpate the leadership of SAG and AFTRA who have over the course of the past decade unlawfully transferred to the Union's own Treasury, most of the interest collected on Residuals and Foreign Royalties, if not the principal as well. However, such exculpatory language, including in the Constitution and By-Laws of a labor organization let alone a general exculpatory resolution of a governing body purporting to relieve any person of liability for breach of the duties set forth in the LMRDA, 29 USC § 501(a), is void and against public policy.
41. Certain Plaintiffs further believe that receipt of a satisfactory
accounting, and the disgorging of profits by SAG-AFTRA is also warranted in light of efforts by Federal Insurance in the litigation initiated by SAG against Federal insurance to also expose this wrongdoing, including through discovery and depositions taken of the firmly entrenched hired leadership and staff of SAG-AFTRA. SAG vs. Federal Insurance Company, Case 2: 11-cv-07123-DMG —VBK. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that said discovery stands in stark contrast with the minimal, if any, discovery engaged in, prefatory to resolution of the class action filed by Ken Osmond against SAG relative to Foreign Levies,
where SAG's fiduciary duties as a labor organization under the LMRDA were never at issue. Osmond, etc., vs. SAG, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC 377780.
42. Given the improprieties apparent herein and in light of the recent
action of the United States in signing the Beijing Treaty in June 2012, thereby expanding upon the rights of U.S. performers to "national treatment" in an even greater number of signatory countries than previously recognized, an alternative to collection and distribution of the "Performers Rights Remuneration" by other than SAG-AFTRA is warranted.
FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF
DEMAND FOR EXAMINATION OF BOOKS, RECORDS AND ACCOUNTS, DAMAGES AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF, 29 USC § 431 (AGAINST SAG-AFTRA AND GIPR)
43. Plaintiffs hereby repeat, reallege and incorporate by reference the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 42, above.
44. In light hereof, Plaintiffs do hereby allege that Defendant SAG-AFTRA has failed to comply with its obligations under the LMRDA, including 29 USC §431, including to file financial reports disclosing annually all "(1) assets and liabilities at the beginning and end of the fiscal year; (2) receipts of
any kind and the sources thereof; (3) salary, allowances and other direct or indirect disbursements (including reimbursed expenses) to each officer also to each employee who, during such fiscal year, received more than $10,000 in the aggregate from such labor organization and any other labor organization affiliated with it or with which it is affiliated, ...; (4) direct and indirect loans made to any officer, employee, or member, which aggregated more than $250 during the fiscal year, together with a statement of the purpose, security, if any, and arrangements for repayment; (5) direct and indirect loans to any business enterprise, together with a statement of the purpose, security, if any, and arrangements for repayment; and (6) other disbursements made by it including the purposes thereof." 29 US.C. § 431(b).
45. Because of adamant refusal of SAG-AFTRA to permit Plaintiffs to examine SAG-AFTRA's books, let alone to account for receipts and disbursements, including involving GIPR, Plaintiffs do hereby give notice that they are renewing their demand, as encompassed in the USAC Letter of September 11, 2012, and undersigned counsel's further letter dated December 17, 2012 to BOB BUSH of Jay Roth's former firm, still acting as SAG-AFTRA counsel, seeking access to all Collective Bargaining Agreements, Contracts, Agreements, Memorandums of Understanding and Sideletters (collectively "Agreements") which pertain to the collection and distribution of Residuals and
Foreign Royalties, including from Foreign Collecting Societies, since said Agreements define what monies were to be given to SAG-AFTRA as a fiduciary. Plaintiffs submit that a full accounting will not be realized absent access to the very documents specifying the formula upon which "Foreign Royalties" are calculated, including what if any has been earmarked as the "Producer's Share" and the "Performer's Share". Since the 10-Year 2001 Foreign Levies Agreement was executed by signatory Producers and SAG, and following its recent renewal, disclosure of the true amount of the "Performer's Share" received by SAG, including as early as 1997 to present, is warranted, given the glaring discrepancies between federal mandated documents and statements made by CRABTREE-IRELAND to trade newspapers, which collectively restrict the "Performers Share" to less than fifteen million, at a time when the DGA and the WGA have publicly acknowledged that the amount of Royalties received by their labor organizations alone well exceeds $100,000,000.
46. In these regards, Plaintiffs maintain that Plaintiffs will be unable
to fulfill their rights under the LMRDA, including 29 USC §414, including to ensure that the financial records provided by Defendants hereinafter are complete, accurate and capable of ensuring transparency in Union finances, absent unfettered access to the following:
A) All Agreements between SAG, AFTRA and now SAG-AFTRA and :
1) IFTA Collections (formerly AFMA Collections);
2) Fintage House;
3) Compact Media Group (formerly Compact Collections).
4) Film Payment Services;
5) Media Services;
6) Robert Hadl;
7) Sallie Weaver;
8) Entertainment Strategies Group (ESG); and
9) Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
B) All agreements into which the Labor Organization and its predecessors have entered under Paragraph 5 of the Foreign Video Levy agreement, with the following collecting societies:
1) ADAMI Societe Civile pour L'Administration des Droits des
Artistes et Musiciens Interpretes (France);
2) AISGE Artistas Interpretes, Sociedad de Gestion (Spain);
3) CPRA c It ATAWFNIOWt > — (Japan);
4) FILMKOPI (Denmark);
5) FINTAGE (Netherlands);
6) FRF-VIDEO Filmproducenternas Rattighetsforening (Sweden);
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
7) GDA Gestao dos Direitos dos Artistas, Interpretes ou Executantes (Portugal);
8) GEDIPE Associacao Para a Gestao de Direitos de Autor, Produtores e Editore (Portugal);
9) GWFF Gesellschaft zur Wahrnehmung von Film- and Fernsehrechten m1111 (Germany);
10) SGAE Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (Spain);
11) SWISSPERFORM Gesellschaft fur Leistungsschutzrechte (Switzerland);
12) THUISKOPIE Stichting de Thuiskopie (Netherlands); and
13) VEVAM Verening ter Exploitatie van Vertoningsrechten op. Audiovisueel Materiaal (Netherlands).
47. Plaintiffs further seek to recover damages on behalf of members and non-members alike, as well as orders ensuring the immediate distribution to their rightful owners of all Residuals and Foreign Royalties not yet paid, together with a proportionate share of interest earned on the principal of all such monies received by SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors, because of the wrongful retention of said monies to begin with, while further enjoining SAG-AFTRA from negotiating any further Residual Checks which have been or will be issued by Producers to performers.
48. Plaintiffs further seeks allocation of a reasonable part of the
recovery to pay the fees of counsel and to compensate Plaintiffs for any expenses necessarily paid or incurred in connection with this litigation. SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF
(AGAINST SAG-AFTRA AND GIPR)
49. Plaintiffs hereby repeat, reallege and incorporate by reference the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 42, above.
50. As more fully alleged above, Plaintiffs maintain that SAG¬AFTRA and its predecessors did not and does not have a right to negotiate and endorse Residual checks issued by Producers, let alone to withhold Residuals and Foreign Royalties collected by SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors from their rightful owners, namely performers on "covered" and "uncovered" works. Likewise, Plaintiffs affirmatively allege that neither SAG nor AFTRA had ever been given authority by the membership to collect the "Performers Share" from Foreign Collecting Societies, arising out of the extension of National Treatment rights to US performers, on "covered works", while neither labor organization, nor SAG-AFTRA, let alone GIPR, has standing to collect said share on "works" produced without the labor organization entering into a binding
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
Collective Bargaining Agreement covering said works, with Plaintiffs affirmatively alleging that most pornographic productions, now largely distributed on videocassettes abroad, are filmed as "nonunion" ventures.
51. In the same vein, due to problems between SAG and particular producers involving specific productions on which Plaintiffs DENNIS HAYDEN, LOI_JIS REEKO MESEROLE, WILLIAM RICHERT and STEPHEN WASTELL performed, SAG interfered with the ability of these Plaintiffs to receive Residuals or continuing Residuals, while all Foreign Royalties presumably have been and still are being collected by the Labor Union but withheld from these Plaintiffs. To the extent SAG-AFTRA claims superior ownership rights over "The Man in the Iron Mask", "The Ghosts of Edendale, and "The Game", then affected Plaintiffs allege that SAG-AFTRA would still be obligated to pay Residuals to said Plaintiffs if the purpose of their actions was, as SAG-AFTRA publicly touts, to protect the performers and guarantee their receipt of all monies, including but not limited to Foreign Royalties and Residuals.
52. By their actions, Defendant SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors have by and through WHITE, CRABTREE-IRELAND and others, intentionally collected and taken possession of specifically
identifiable amounts of monies belonging to the Plaintiffs and others, including on "covered" and "uncovered" works. Further, Defendants have held these monies in their sole possession for an unreasonably long period of time, if not converted same to their own use, to the ongoing detriment of Plaintiffs and all other members of SAG-AFTRA, and non-members as well.
53. Until Exculpatory provisions were added to the SAG-AFTRA Constitution and By-Laws, at time of merger, there was never any written consent or permission given to Defendants' to collect Foreign Royalties, let alone endorse and retain Residuals. Defendant SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors have exercised dominion over a specific sum of money that is capable of identification, via a proper accounting, with said monies, including all interest collected thereon, rightfully belonging to the membership of SAG-AFTRA, as well as individuals whose monies have been wrongfully collected
on "non-covered" works. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Defendants have collected monies on behalf of SAG-AFTRA members and others and asserted to third-party payors that Defendant and its predecessors had or have the right to collect such monies, when they do not.
54. Defendants' conduct was a substantial factor in causing the harm suffered by Plaintiffs and the membership of SAG-AFTRA and others. As a direct and proximate cause of Defendants' actions, Plaintiffs have been damaged in an amount to be determined at trial but in excess of the jurisdiction of this Court.
55. In addition, Defendants' conduct as described herein was done with a conscious disregard of the rights of Plaintiffs and other SAG¬AFTRA members, if not other performers who have never been affiliated with said labor organizations or worked on "signatory" projects. Plaintiffs are informed and believe Defendant SAG¬AFTRA and its predecessors, by and through WHITE, CRABTREE-IRELAND and HADL have engaged in these actions with the intent to oppress Plaintiffs and others, while intentionally concealing information as to the existence and availability of Residuals and Foreign Royalties, and have furthermore understaffed as well as placed individuals with questionable credentials in charge of ensuring timely distribution of Residuals and Foreign Royalties, if not deliberately precluded the Distribution Department from distributing said monies so that Defendants could keep the Residuals and Foreign Royalty monies and interest for their own pecuniary or personal interests. By so acting,
Defendants actions have precluded Plaintiffs and others from collecting earned Residuals and Foreign Royalties to which they are entitled, even though Producers have issued W-2s to Plaintiffs and others as if Residual checks were in fact received.
56. Defendants' acts in these and other regards constitute oppression, fraud, and/or malice under California Civil Code § 3294, with all such acts carried out by the managing agents of SAG-AFTRA and GIPR, thereby entitling Plaintiffs to an award of punitive damages in an amount appropriate to punish or set an example of the Defendants in an amount to be determined at trial.
57. In addition to the foregoing damages, Defendants have been unjustly enriched as a result of the foregoing actions, and, therefore, Plaintiffs seek imposition of a constructive trust on all monies wrongfully obtained by Defendant SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors, as well as GIPR, including as otherwise provided pursuant to California Civil Code §§ 2223¬2224.
58. Further, Defendants' wrongful conduct is continuing and ongoing. Plaintiffs and the entire membership of SAG-AFTRA have suffered, and will continue to suffer, irreparable injury for which there is no adequate remedy at law, unless Defendant SAG-AFTRA and GIPR is
enjoined by the Court from continuing to collect such monies without paying them out. Alternatively, injunctive relief is sought for an order that an independent body be authorized to collect and pay such monies subject to Court supervision, as SAG-AFTRA and GIPR is clearly incapable of acting as a fiduciary, let alone as a collecting society.
THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION UNJUST ENRICHMENT (AGAINST SAG-AFTRA AND GIPR)
59. Plaintiffs hereby repeat, reallege and incorporate by reference the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 42, above.
60. As a result of Defendants' acts, as set forth in this Complaint, that have and continue to deprive Plaintiffs of Residuals and Foreign Royalties, Defendants have received, and continue to receive, a substantial financial benefit. Under the facts and circumstances surrounding this case, it would be unjust to permit Defendants to retain this benefit.
61. As a result, Plaintiffs request restitution of all monies wrongfully obtained by SAG-AFTRA and their predecessors, as well as GIPR, including all interest earned thereon.
62. Further, Defendants' infringing conduct is continuing and ongoing. Plaintiffs have suffered, and will continue to suffer, irreparable
injury for which there is no adequate remedy at law, unless Defendants are enjoined by the Court from negotiating Residuals checks made payable to performers and from continuing to track Residual checks absent an order specifying the time frame the original check must be forwarded to the performer at his or her last known address used for dues billings.
63. With respect to Foreign Royalties, injunctive relief is sought
for issuance of an order authorizing an independent body to collect and pay all monies received from Foreign Collecting Societies, subject to Court supervision, as SAG-AFTRA is clearly incapable of acting as a collecting society, not only on behalf of its own members, but non-members as well.
64. Plaintiffs further seek imposition of a constructive trust on all monies wrongfully obtained by Defendants, in accordance with the common law and California Civil Code §§ 2223-24, for the benefit of Plaintiffs and SAG-AFTRA members and non-members alike.
FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION
VIOLATIONS OF CALIFORNIA'S BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE §§ 17200 ET SEQ.
(AGAINST SAG-AFTRA AND GIPR)
65. Plaintiffs hereby repeat, reallege and incorporate by reference
the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 42, above.
66. After being accused of devising a scheme to avoid escheating allegedly "unclaimed" Foreign Royalties monies to the State of California in the Class Action initiated by Ken Osmond of "Leave It To Beaver" fame against SAG, SAG and AFTRA thereafter merged into SAG-AFTRA and thereafter insisted on becoming incorporated in the State of Delaware where escheat laws permit SAG-AFTRA to retain in its coffers all unclaimed monies belonging to out-of-state residents. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that the lionshare of said residents eligible to receive Residuals and Foreign Royalties are from California, thereby demonstrating that SAG-AFTRA was engaging in forum shopping to ensure its maximum retention of Residuals and Foreign Royalties, without ever having to be accountable for the distribution thereof.
67. Defendants have continued to collect monies on behalf of Plaintiffs and others and have asserted to third-party payors that Defendants have the right to collect such monies. Although exculpatory language in the recently adopted SAG-AFTRA Constitution and By-Laws would seek to insulate Defendant SAG-AFTRA from liability, said language is void against public policy and furthermore does not apply to non-members, let alone performers on works not produced under the terms of a Collective Bargaining Agreement.
68. Defendants have failed to pay Plaintiffs and others the monies it has collected in a time frame acceptable under any reasonable business practice.
69. Defendants have likewise taken an unauthorized commission or fee for the collection and distribution of these monies.
70. Defendants' conduct as described herein is illegal, unfair, and
fraudulent pursuant to California Business and Professions Code §§ 17200 et seq. Defendants have devised a scheme to deceive not only Plaintiffs as well as members and non-members alike, but also the third-party payors so that Defendants could keep Residuals and Foreign Royalties, plus interest, for themselves.
71. Defendants' actions are unfair and fraudulent in that they have intentionally concealed information from Plaintiffs and others, and have made misrepresentations to third-party payors, on a continual basis, in conformity with their scheme, thereby precluding Plaintiffs and others from collecting Residuals and Foreign Royalties to which they are entitled, in a reasonable time frame.
72. Further, Defendants have devised a scheme to deceive not only Plaintiffs and its members and non-members alike, but also the State of California and its citizens so that Defendants could keep the Residuals
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
and Foreign Royalties for themselves.
73. On information and belief, Defendants' actions are illegal in that they have intentionally moved all Residuals and Foreign Royalty monies out of escrow and into a general fund and/or trust account to avoid any monies escheating to the State of California, thereby precluding the State of California and its citizens from collecting the benefit of these Residuals and Foreign Royalty monies to which they are entitled pursuant to the Unclaimed Property Law, California Civil Procedure Code §§ 1500-1582.
74. These illegal, unfair, and fraudulent business practices present a continuing threat to members of the public. Plaintiffs and other members of the public have no other adequate remedy of law in that the amount of damage incurred by each member of the public is small in comparison to the cost of litigation of this matter. As such, Plaintiffs, including on behalf of the public, are requesting that Defendants be permanently enjoined from escaping the escheat laws of the State of California, relative to California residents, and from engaging any further in its preexisting business practice of negotiating Residual Checks which have been issued to members and non-members alike by Producers and Payroll Companies, absent written authorization
from the performer to do so, in the same way Employers in
California cannot deduct monies from employee paychecks absent specific authorization. California Labor Code Sections 221 and 224. With respect to Foreign Royalties, injunctive relief is sought for issuance of an order authorizing an independent body to collect and pay all monies received from Foreign Collecting Societies, subject to Court supervision, as SAG-AFTRA is clearly incapable of acting as .a collecting society, not only on behalf of its own members, but non-members as well.
75. As a further direct and proximate result of the aforementioned acts, Defendants received and continue to receive an unknown amount of money from the collection, and nonpayment, of Residuals and Foreign Royalties that may otherwise be owed to the State of California.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and the membership of SAG-AFTRA respectfully requests of the Court the following relief:
1. An accounting from its officers, employees, agents and
representatives of, and to account for, all Residuals and Foreign Royalties received by said labor organization and its predecessor labor organizations, SAG
and AFTRA, from Producers and Foreign Collecting Societies or other entities, from 1997 to present, including all monies which have been distributed to or withheld from performers, including the Producer's share of the "performers share", if any, on "covered" and "noncovered" works as well as all administrative fees deducted as well as all interest earned on Residuals and Foreign Royalties deposited into SAG-AFTRA or their predecessors accounts;
2. Access to all Collective Bargaining Agreements, Contracts, Agreements, Memorandums of Understanding and Sideletters as more fully set forth in Paragraph 46, above;
3. An accounting for the millions of dollars of expenditures purportedly made by SAG for computer equipment, software, and IT staffing, consulting and maintenance, commencing in Fiscal Year 2004 to present, in light of SAG-AFTRA's General Counsel and Deputy National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland's public proclamation seeking to justify SAG's failure to disburse monies for close to a decade on the guise that SAG had an antiquated computer system;
4. An accounting of and reimbursement of all monies paid to Labor Consultants, Legal Counsel and various entities purportedly used by the labor organization to solidify and whitewash the collection, disbursement and retention of Foreign Royalties and Residuals by SAG-AFTRA and its
5. To account for all monies expended by officers, employees and representatives of SAG-AFTRA and its predecessors, including Labor Consultants and Legal Counsel, for First Class Travel, including to foreign countries, political events, lavish parties from 2008 to present, and for any direct and indirect loans;
6. That each Defendant, their respective agents, servants, employees, officers, attorneys, successors, and assigns, and all of these persons actively in concert or participation with each or any of them, be preliminarily and permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly infringing upon the rights of Plaintiffs and others in any manner, and further requiring the paying out of monies collected from Residuals and Foreign Royalties to Plaintiffs and their rightful owners, and further preventing SAG-AFTRA from ever again negotiating Residual checks issued by Producers to performers;
7. For establishment of an independent body to collect and pay all Foreign Royalties subject to Court supervision, as SAG-AFTRA is clearly incapable of acting as a collecting society;
8. That responsible parties be required to pay such damages to Plaintiffs and to restore all monies wrongfully taken from SAG
ASNER, et al. vs. SAG-AFTRA, et al. Case No. 13-CV
AFTRA to the Union's coffers, in an amount to be determined at trial, but that are in excess of the jurisdiction of this Court;
9. That each Defendant be required to account for all gains, interest, and advantages derived by each Defendant from the wrongful acts alleged herein;
10. That the Court impose a constructive trust;
11. For Punitive Damages on the Second Cause of Action;
12. That Plaintiffs recover their costs in prosecuting this action, including without limitation, reasonable attorneys' fees pursuant to statutes, including 29 U.S.C. § 431, as well as California Code of Civil Procedure § 1021.5;
13. That each Defendant pay to Plaintiffs an award of prejudgment interest according to proof;
14. Pursuant to California Business and Professions Code § 17203, and pursuant to the equitable powers of this Court, Plaintiffs pray that the Defendants be permanently enjoined from the unlawful business practices described herein;
15. Pursuant to California Business and Professions Code § 17203 and pursuant to the equitable powers of this Court, Plaintiffs pray that the Defendants also be ordered, pursuant to said request for
injunctive relief and otherwise, to restore to Plaintiffs and the members and non-members of SAG-AFTRA all monies collected and/or retained by means of any act or practice declared by this Court to be unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent under California Business and Professions Code §§ 17200 et seq.; and,
16. That Plaintiffs be given leave to add a cause of action on Ex Parte Application for Breach of Fiduciary Duties under 29 U.S.C. Section 501 against the appropriate offending officers, employees, agents, Consultants, and representatives of SAG-AFTRA, according to proof; and,
17. That Plaintiffs be given such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.
JURY TRIAL DEMAND
Plaintiff hereby demands a trial by jury.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
NOTICE OF ASSIGNMENT TO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE FOR DISCOVERY
This case has been assigned to District Judge Manuel Real and the assigned discovery Magistrate Judge is Frederick F. Mumm.
The case number on all documents filed with the Court should read as follows:
CV13- 3741 R (FFMx)
Pursuant to General Order 05-07 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the Magistrate Judge has been designated to hear discovery related motions.
Unless otherwise ordered, the United States District Judge assigned to this case will hear and determine all discovery related motions.
NOTICE TO COUNSEL
A copy of this notice must be served with the summons and complaint on all defendants (if a removal action is filed, a copy of this notice must be served on all plaintiffs).
Subsequent documents must be filed at the following location:
312 N. Spring St., Rm. G-8 Los Angeles, CA 90012 Li Southern Division
411 West Fourth St., Rm. 1-053 Santa Ana, CA 92701-4516 Li Eastern Division
3470 Twelfth St., Rm. 134 Riverside, CA 92501
Failure to file at the proper location will result in your documents being returned to you.
CV-18 (03/06) NOTICE OF ASSIGNMENT TO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE FOR DISCOVERY
AO 440 (Rey 06/12) Summons in a Civil Action
L NITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SEE ATTACHED )
) Civil Action No. CV13— 3741 12( et.'mx)
Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a labor organization commonly known as SAG-AFTRA and its GUILD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REALIZATION, LLC
SUMMONS IN A CIVIL ACTION
To: (Defendant 's name and address)
ithin 21 days a r service of this summons on you (not counting the day you received it) — or 60 days if you
are the nited State a United States agency. or an officer or employee of the United States described in Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12 (a) e — you must serve on the plaintiff an answer to the attached complaint or a motion under Rule 12 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The answer or motion must be served on the plaintiff or plaintiffs attorney,
whose name and address are:
HELENA S. WISE, Bar No. 91163
LAW OFFICES OF HELENA S. WISE
1907 W. Burbank, Suite A
Burbank, CA 91506
If you fail to respond. judgment by default will be entered against you for the relief demanded in the complaint. You also must file your answer or motion with the court.
Signature Deputy- Cierk
ATTACHMENT TO SUMMONS
ASNER, ETEXt. VS. SAG-AFTRA,
ED ASNER, CLANCY BROWN. GEORGE COE. TOM BOWER, DENNIS HAYDEN, WILLIAM RICHERT, LOUIS REEKO MESEROLE, TERRENCE BEASOR, ALEX MCARTHUR, ED O'ROSS, ROGER CALLARD, STEVEN
BARR, RUSSELL GANNON, STEPHEN WAS FELL, JAMES A. OSBURN, and
ERIC HUGHES aka JON WHITELEY, collectively known as the United Screen Actors Committee (USAC),
SCREEN ACTORS GUILD — AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TELEVISION AND RADIO ARTISTS, a labor organization commonly known as SAG-AFTRA and its GUILD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REALIZATION, LLC,
JS 44 (Rev. 12/12)
CIVIL CO \TER SHEET
The JS 44 civil cover sheet and the information contained herein neither replace nor supplement the filing and service of pleadings or other papers as required by law, except as provided by local rules of court. This form, approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States in September 1974, is required for the use of the Clerk of Court for the purpose of initiating the civil docket sheet. (SEE INSTRUCTIONS ON NEXT PAGE OF THIS FORM.)
I. (a) PLAINTIFFS SEE ATTACHED
(b) County of Residence of First Listed Plaintiff Los Angeles
(EXCEPT IN US. PLAINTIFF CASES)
(C) Attorneys (Firm Name, Address, and Telephone Number)
HELENA S. WISE, Bat No. 91163 LAW OFFICES OF HELENA S. WISE
1907 W. Burbank, Suite A, Burbank, CA 91506 (818) 843-8086
DEFENDANTS SEE ATTACHED
County of Residence of First Listed Defendant Los Angeles
(IN U.S. PLAINTIFF CASES ONLY)
NOTE: IN LAND CONDEMNATION CASES, USE THE LOCATION OF THE TRACT OF LAND INVOLVED.
Attorneys (If Known)
BOB BUSH, Bar No. 65357
BUSH, GOTTLIEB, SINGER, LOPEZ, KOHANSKI, ADELSTEIN 500 N. Central, Suite 800, Glendale, CA 91203 (818) 973-3200
II. BASIS OF JURISDICTION (Place an "X" in One Box Only) III. CITIZENSHIP OF PRINCIPAL PARTIES (Place an "X" in One Box fin. Plainti,
(For Diversity Cases Only) and One Box* Defendant)
q 1 U.S. Government N 3 Federal Question PTF DEF PTF DEF
Plaintiff (U.S. Government Not a Party) Citizen of This State 0 1 q 1 Incorporated or Principal Place of Business In This State 0 4 4
q 2 U.S Government Defendant q 4 Diversity
(Indicate Citizenship of Parties in Item III) Citizen of Another State 0 2 q 2 Incorporated and Principal Place of Business In Another State 5 0 5
Citizen or Subject of a 0 3 q 3 Foreign Nation 6 6
IV. NATURE OF SUIT (Place an "X" in One Box Only,
I CONTRACT TORTS FORFEITURE/PENALTY BANKRUPTCY OTHER STATUTES
110 Insurance PERSONAL INJURY PERSONAL INJURY q 625 Drug Related Seizure q 422 Appeal 28 USC 158 375 False Claims Act
120 Marine q 310 Airplane q 365 Personal Injury - of Property 21 USC 881 q 423 Withdrawal 0 400 State Reapportionment
0 130 Miller Act q 315 Airplane Product Product Liability 0 690 Other 28 USC 157 410 Antitrust
140 Negotiable Instrument Liability q 367 Health Care/ 430 Banks and Banking
150 Recovery of Overpayment q 320 Assault, Libel & Pharmaceutical PROPERTY RIGHTS 450 Commerce
& Enforcement of Judgment Slander Personal Injury q 820 Copyrights 460 Deportation
151 Medicare Act q 330 Federal Employers' Product Liability q 830 Patent 470 Racketeer Influenced and
152 Recovery of Defaulted Liability q 368 Asbestos Personal q 840 Trademark Corrupt Organizations
Student Loans q 340 Marine Injury Product 480 Consumer Credit
(Excludes Veterans) q 345 Marine Product Liability LABOR SOCIAL SECURITY 490 Cable/Sat TV
153 Recovery of Overpayment Liability PERSONAL PROPERTY q 710 Fair Labor Standards q 861 WA (1395ff) 850 Securities/Commodities/
of Veteran's Benefits q 350 Motor Vehicle q 370 Other Fraud Act q 862 Black Lung (923) Exchange
160 Stockholders' Suits q 355 Motor Vehicle q 371 Truth in Lending $1 720 Labor/Management q 863 DIWC/DIWW (405(g)) 890 Other Statutory Actions
190 Other Contract Product Liability 0 380 Other Personal Relations q 864 SSID Title XVI 0 891 Agricultural Acts
195 Contract Product Liability q 360 Other Personal Property Damage q 740 Railway Labor Act q 865 RSI (405(g)) 893 Environmental Matters
196 Franchise Injury q 385 Property Damage q 751 Family and Medical 895 Freedom of Information
q 362 Personal Injury - Product Liability Leave Act Act
Medical Malpractice q 790 Other Labor Litigation 896 Arbitration
REAL PROPERTY CIVIL RIGHTS PRISONER PETITIONS q 791 Employee Retirement FEDERAL TAX SUITS 899 Administrative Procedure
0 210 Land Condemnation q 440 Other Civil Rights Habeas Corpus: Income Security Act q 870 Taxes (U.S. Plaintiff Act/Review or Appeal of
220 Foreclosure q 441 Voting q 463 Alien Detainee or Defendant) Agency Decision
230 Rent Lease & Ejectment q 442 Employment q 510 Motions to Vacate 0 871 IRS—Third Party 950 Constitutionality of
240 Torts to Land q 443 Housing/ Sentence 26 USC 7609 State Statutes
245 Tort Product Liability Accommodations q 530 General
290 All Other Real Property q 445 Amer. w/Disabilities - 0 535 Death Penalty IMMIGRATION
Employment Other: q 462 Naturalization Application
q 446 Amer. w/Disabilities - q 540 Mandamus & Other q 465 Other Inmsigration
Other q 550 Civil Rights Actions
q 448 Education q 555 Prison Condition
q 560 Civil Detainee
V. ORIGIN (Place an "X" it One Box On11)
)8( 1 Original 0 2 Removed from 0 3 Remanded from
Proceeding State Court Appellate Court 0 4 Reinstated or 5 Transferred from 0 6 Multidistrict
Reopened Another District Litigation
ATTACHMENT TO CIVIL COVER SHEET ASNER, ET AL. VS. SAG-AFTRA, ET AL.
ED ASNER, CLANCY BROWN, GEORGE COE, TOM BOWER, DENNIS HAYDEN, WILLIAM RICHERT, LOUIS REEKO
MESEROLE, TERRENCE BEASOR, ALEX MCARTHUR, ED
O'ROSS, ROGER CALLARD, STEVEN BARR, RUSSELL GANNON, STEPHEN WASTELL, JAMES A. OSBURN, and ERIC HUGHES aka JON WHITELEY, collectively known as the United Screen Actors Committee (USAC)
SCREEN ACTORS GUILD — AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TELEVISION AND RADIO ARTISTS, a labor organization commonly known as SAG-AFTRA and its GUILD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REALIZATION, LLC
VIII: RELATED CASES IF ANY:
A) SCREEN ACTORS GUILD VS. FEDERAL INSURANCE, CV 11-7123-DLG (VBKx)
This case is still pending and discusses many of the financial transgressions referenced in the instant lawsuit.
B) MARTIN SHEEN, ET AL., VS. SCREEN ACTORS GUILD, ET AL., CV 12-1468 SJO (AJW)
This case has been dismissed by Stipulation and pertained to the Merger of SAG and AFTRA. Various Exculpatory Clauses were written into SAG-AFTRA's Constitution and By-Laws which are at issue herein, while SAG-AFTRA incorporated in the State of Delaware, with SAG ceasing to be a California Corporation.
C) KEN OSMOND, ET AL., VS. SCREEN ACTORS GUILD, ET AL., CV 07-07095 MMM (PJWx)
This State Court Class Action case was removed and remanded to the Superior Court of Los Angeles to procure payment of "Foreign Royalties" and did not encompass an LMRDA claim.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
CIVIL COVER SHEET
VIII(a). IDENTICAL CASES: Has this action been previously filed in this court and dismissed, remanded or closed? (NO YES
If yes, list case number(s):
VIII(b). RELATED CASES: Have any cases been previously filed in this court that are related to the present case? El NO YES
If yes, list case number(s): V I ) j)11.; ( V ILL LROS':. Sit) cv 07- 0-7095 tim144
Civil cases are deemed related if a previously filed case and the present case:
(Check all boxes that apply) g.A. Arise from the same or closely related transactions, happenings, or events; or B. Call for determination of the same or substantially related or similar questions of law and fact; or tyL,C. For other reasons would entail substantial duplication of labor if heard by different judges; or
El D. Involve the same patent, trademark or copyright, and one of the factors identified above in a, b or c also is present.
IX. VENUE: (When completing the following information, use an additional sheet if necessary.)
(a) List the County in this District; California County outside of this District; State if other than California; or Foreign Country, in which EACH named plaintiff resides.
L Check here if the government, its agencies or employees is a named plaintiff. If this box is checked, go to item (b).
County in this District:* California County outside of this District; State, if other than California; or Foreign Country
4)5 'ell t)5
(b) List the County in thisDistrict; California County outside of this District; State if other than California; or Foreign Country, in which EACH named defendant resides.
D Check here if the government, its agencies or employees is a named defendant. If this box is checked, go to item (c).
County in this District:* California County outside of this District; State, if other than California; or Foreign
- ..- &Of 511E - 4-r: TA ae
- t ,
)\ fl (De A-11-tA e 7untry
(c) List the Co ty in this District; Califo ia County outside of this District; State if other than California; or Foreign Country, in which EACH claim arose. NOTE: In land condemnation cases, use the location of the tract of land involved.
County in this District:*
California County outside of this District; State, if other than California; or Foreign Country
*Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Bar• : ra, • lifir is O• ii7;iountiirAMMEM111 „..... Note: In land condemnation cases, use the location of the tract of land in olve. I
X. SIGNATURE OF ATTORNEY (OR SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANT): 11/1411/ffiriffiiir DATE: IMAM
Notice to Counsel/Parties: The CV-71 (JS-44) Civil Cover Sheet and the infirif 'C iriitir en n Vher replace nor supplement the f ing and service eadings or
other papers as required by law. This form, approved by the Judicial Confer:.!- f the nit-' . .tates in September 1974, is required purs nt to Local Rule 3-1 is not filed but is used by the Clerk of the Court for the purpose of statistics, venue and ini i ing t. e civil i ocket sheet. (For more detailed instructions, see separate instructions sheet).
Key to Statistical codes relating to Social Security Cases:
Nature of Suit Code Abbreviation Substantive Stat ent of Cause of Action
All claims for health insurance benefits (Medicare) under Title 18, Part A, of the Social Security Act, as amended. Also,
861 HIA include claims by hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, etc., for certification as providers of services under the program.
(42 U.S.C. 1935FF(b))
862 BL All claims for "Black Lung" benefits under Title 4, Part B, of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. (30 U.S.C.
All claims filed by insured workers for disability insurance benefits under Title 2 of the Social Security Act, as amended; plus all claims filed for child's insurance benefits based on disability. (42 U.S.C. 405 (g))
865 RSI All claims filed for widows or widowers insurance benefits based on disability under Title 2 of the Social Security Act, as amended. (42 U.S.C. 405 (g))
All claims for supplemental security income payments based upon disability filed under Title 16 of the Social Security Act, as amended.
All claims for retirement (old age) and survivors benefits under Title 2 of the Social Security Act, as amended.
(42 U.S.C. 405 (g))
Deadline Hollywood. Actors Ed Asner, Clancy Brown, Dennis Hayden, and George Coe are among the 15 plaintiffs who filed suit today in federal court against SAG-AFTRA for not properly disbursing $110 million in foreign residuals they say have not been paid out. Asner is the former SAG president (1981-1985) who very publicly opposed the SAG-AFTRA merger along with other ex-union board members. The 52-page filing also claims that the merged union has deliberately withheld information and kept the money in trust and spent portions on first class travel and lavish parties and big salaries for current union officials. “Plaintiffs have reason to believe that SAG-AFTRA has now amassed a substantial slush fund that does not belong to the labor organization but instead belongs to members and non-members, and/or their estates, on covered and uncovered works,” says Friday’s filing. Requesting a jury trial, the plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages as well as injunctive relief and an order by the court that would stop the union from being able to collect overseas royalties. Instead, the suit proposes a separate “independent body” established to handle the funds in the future.
Today’s action follows a request made to SAG-AFTRA back in September 2012 for a full accounting of the collection of the foreign funds. Asner was one of the plaintiffs in an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit in early 2012 to get a preliminary and permanent injunction to stop SAG from calling for a vote on the proposed SAG-AFTRA merger. Clancy Brown and George Coe were also plaintiffs in that suit and are plaintiffs today, too. All were also on the losing side in an effort to stop SAG and AFTRA becoming one union. Members passed the union merger overwhelming on March 30, 2012. The Burbank law firm of Helena S. Wise represents the plaintiffs.
SATURDAY UPDATE, 10:48 AM: The union says that it will “vigorously respond in the appropriate forum in due course” to the suit filed Friday by former SAG president Ed Asner and others over $110 million in undistributed residuals and royalties. Claiming that they are “proud” and “confident” in their foreign royalties program, SAG-AFTRA admit they haven’t actually seen the filing itself. Still, based on previous correspondence with the plaintiffs, the union calls the claims “completely without merit.” Read statement here:
We are very proud of, and confident in, our unclaimed residuals and foreign royalties programs which distribute millions of dollars to performers every year. The foreign royalties program has successfully distributed to performers more than $14 million — money that would otherwise go uncollected and be lost to them forever. The foreign royalties program was previously subject to a class action lawsuit that resulted in a resolution favorable to the union after intense scrutiny of the program. While we have not been provided with a copy of the current complaint, the claims as presented in the plaintiff’s earlier correspondence have been thoroughly reviewed and are completely without merit. We will vigorously respond in the appropriate forum in due course.
COMMENTS (41)aaron4gold (signed in using yahoo)
SAG0AFTRA MERGER: A GIANT WASTE OF SAG CORPORATE ASSETS?
“You speak an infinite deal of nothing.” William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice.
"Crabtree-Ireland asserted at the time that the funds would not have been collected had SAG not pursued them." HMMMM...LET'S SEE, SAG WAS CAUGHT NOT COLLECTING FOREIGN FUNDS, THEN WAS FORCED TO COLLECT THEM, NOW MR. CRABTREE-HYPHONATED-IRELAND DECLARES SAG-AFTRA'S DEFENSE FOR NOT PAYING THE COLLECTED FUNDS IS THAT THEY WERE FORCED TO COLLECT THEM? HMMMMM...NO! THAT'S NOT CRAZY!
No, it isn't crazy its called EMBEZZELMENT! To embezzel is to MIS APPROPRIATE funds that were RIGHTFULLY entrusted to you. One would think that Crabtree-Ireland studied this subject in law school. Of course everyone knows that the bar exam is always 70% NEGLIGENCE, thereffore it is understandable that he would not have studied that section of crim law. Hopefully, Ms Wise DID study Negligence and makes it the FIRST complaint.
"Duncan Crabtree-Ireland denied the assertions and noted PricewaterhouseCoopers audits the union’s distribution of the funds — which total $14.2 million since 2007 with $7.4 million to distribute."
There is ANOTHER little known area of law that is ALWAYS tested on the cal bar: Directors of solvent corporations have two basic “fiduciary” duties, the duty of care and the duty of loyalty, owed to the corporation itself and the shareholders. What are those duties? Directors must act in good faith, with the care of a prudent person, and in the best interest of the corporation. Directors must also refrain from self-dealing, usurping corporate opportunities and receiving improper personal benefits. HMMM...The issue appears to be "distribution of the funds — which total $14.2 million since 2007 with $7.4 million to distribute." Two questions: 1. "SINCE 2007" and 2. $14 MILLION, WITH $7 MILLION LEFT TO DISTRIBUTE!" Now, therein lies the rub. Exactly WHERE are all these numbers coming from? Are these mere GUESSES? One must understand that the Hollyweird movie business is the most VERTICALLY INTEGRATED FINANCIAL SYSTEM ON EARTH! Every penny is accounted for from the gum given to extras on set to the number of tickets sold in Bangladesh to see "ROCKY 135!" You remember that one don't you, that was the one where Rocky's clone... oh never mind. The point is, there is NO mystery about this money. There needs to be an open, upfront ACCOUNTING for every penny of the money. ANYTHING LESS IS A GROSS VIOLATION OF THE FIDUCYARY DUTIY OF THE CURRENT RULERS OF "SAG-AFTRA."
It’s a shame this had to happen, but not surprising. AFTRA was willing to undercut their own membership again and again to build their own coffers; often making deals that left actors without residuals. Why should anyone think they would ensure the actors get their rightful monies?
Comment by ralph — Friday May 24, 2013 @ 8:04pm PDT Reply to this post
What is the point of a union if the actors don’t get paid the money the union guaranted them when they joined? Union busting in Hollywood?
Comment by Alpierce — Tuesday May 28, 2013 @ 1:05am PDT Reply to this post
3 times now I have found thousands of dollars sitting in the “residuals held in trust” account. They never, ever notify people and they blamed it this last time on the system messing up cause of the merger. Buncha thieves.
Bravo for taking it to them Ed, count me in!
Comment by StuntThug — Friday May 24, 2013 @ 8:11pm PDT Reply to this post
where do we find that trust…have a feeling there is stuff there since I have worked steadily for 35 years!
Comment by intheknow — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 7:09am PDT Reply to this post
Direct number to the residuals trust department: 323-549-6535
Get a person on the phone. Not the automated system.
Comment by StuntThug — Sunday May 26, 2013 @ 3:07pm PDT Reply to this post
He’s a fine actor, he’s got more left than just sour grapes.
Comment by David — Friday May 24, 2013 @ 9:01pm PDT Reply to this post
God bless Ed, hope he wins. This is just how the Hwd unions roll. The WGA is even worse–parties, junkets, high-priced consultants….anything and everything to piss away member dues while negotiating pathetic contracts, abdicating their enforcement, and doling out residuals at a snail’s pace. It’s a scandal.
Comment by MollyMac — Friday May 24, 2013 @ 9:14pm PDT Reply to this post
Get them in open court. JUST LIKE THIS. HUGE, Delaware or no.
Delaware? Yup – MUCH more protective of criminal activity by corporations, thus, DELAWARE, as the haven for SO many corporations, disproportionate to its tiny State size.
They want the tax revenue, so they greatly lessen the regulations, and raise the legal requirements MUCH higher to make it MUCH harder to go after corporations.
THAT is why SAG-AFTRA is NOW, POST-MERGER – incorporated in Delaware, as opposed to California, where it had been for 80 years.
But the fraud and theft and lies are SO deep in this “shit-box of liars and thieves led union?”
Get them in COURT – again and again and again. Wear them down. Make them testify. Let the membership and the press HAVE to report and absorb and process the lies and theft.
THAT IS THE WAY BACK to something resembling an honest, TOUGH as NAILS union, repping screen actors again, cause SAG-AFTRA is run by and for PUSSIES.
Comment by Matt Mulhern — Friday May 24, 2013 @ 9:26pm PDT Reply to this post
I’m not disputing a lot in your argument, because I don’t know. But I do know this… There is nothing wrong with saving tax revenues.
Comment by Jerry — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 7:32am PDT Reply to this post
I work in commercials. Just recently was involved in three new big spots for Netflix. All shot in South Africa with SA talent. Why? Because the renewals/residuals and extensions of the US commercials THEY’D ALREADY SHOT LAST YEAR would cost much, much more than shooting three new commercials abroad with the buyouts. Everybody loses out this way – the US, Los Angeles, California, crews AND the actors. SAG is the main reason this town has zero business. And unless they change their tune, there won’t be a film business in this town they can highway rob in a couple of years. 100% of zero revenue is still zero. Wake up.
Comment by SwedeInHollywood — Friday May 24, 2013 @ 10:12pm PDT Reply to this post
Residuals were a bad plan started when the studios owned productions, and it was a stop-gap to avoid raises, a stop-gap they expected to cost less than paying people then. What it has turned into is nothing like what people expected.
The Federal Individual Retirement Account system in effect now did not exist then. We would be better off with buyouts that included a payment to the retirement account and scrapping the residuals so the workers get their pay and have money in a retirement account that doesn’t have a flock of lawyers guarding it from the owner of the account.
The problem is the “I worked one day and deserve to be paid for the rest of my life” business model. It impacts more than actors, it includes shafting people on both sides of the camera, and bankruptcy at end of production is the new player. That makes one off corporations for movie production more attractive, creates a system that allows a production to go into a bankruptcy that voids those payments, it let the crew hours worked be increased to unsafe levels to save on rental locations, and the move out of country means the top name talent get over half the budget in their pocket.
The pay rates and residuals here make indie work almost impossible, and the jobs are heading outside the country, the crisis is real, but instead of trying to keep jobs we seem intent upon finding new ways not to pay the guys actually doing he heavy lifting.
Comment by Colcam — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 5:26am PDT Reply to this post
Couple things, Colcam. Wow, your parents gave you that name? I don’t disagree there are parts of the current residual program that are antiquated, But residuals started because the studios (who still own everything) were re-running product on television. And making heaps of money, while the real reason for the success of the movies/shows were sitting and watching this happen. Yes, it was profit sharing. And it still should be profit sharing. I actually thing the current cable residual plan is quite fair. Residuals are based on the undisputed size of the sale. As an actor my “Seinfeld” checks are much larger than my “Suddenly Susan” checks… as they should be.
Comment by Jerry — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 7:41am PDT Reply to this post
Residuals are not a reward for working only one day. They allow the actor to benefit from the ongoing income that the producer reaps by exploiting the actor’s name and likeness. In the case of commercials, residuals compensate the actor for his contractual inability to take jobs for competing products. SAG and AFTRA have a special product: nobody pays to see a movie, buy a product, or watch a TV show because of who produces it. They watch for the actors, who serve as continuing sales tools and should be continually compensated when their work is offered in the marketplace. (P.S.: I’m a producer and if I’m paying residuals it’s because I’m making money, too.)
Comment by Santayana — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 10:57am PDT Reply to this post
Don’t worry, the internet is looming and your dream scenario, which is a race to the bottom, will be here soon enough.
Comment by da — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 3:27pm PDT Reply to this post
You know colcam? That is exactly the Republican party’s explanation for why we should privatize social security. And it’s the dumbest goddamn thing you ever heard.
Comment by Matt Mulhern — Monday May 27, 2013 @ 11:27am PDT Reply to this post
This was all predicted BEFORE THE MERGER!!! Now, where are all you big pro-merger backers? Hiding under a rock?! Like Chuck Berry said, “Must’ve been some other body…”
Comment by told'ja — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 12:05am PDT Reply to this post
Again? This is the 6th lawsuit from the same cast of characters. Love Ed Asner as an actor but he and his friends always lose these suits and just the last lawsuit cost the union $600,000 to defend. That’s money that comes out of the pockets of union members. Foreign royalties are very different from residuals and it’s been explained to Mr. Asner & company numerous times. Makes me wonder of they’re just trying to milk a settlement out of the union to make this go away. If the judge or jury find in favor of SAG, I hope the plaintiffs pay the union’s legal fees.
Comment by JustSaying — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 12:15am PDT Reply to this post
WTF??? The “union” has refused to deliver funds that were paid to the union to be delivered to the performers. What part of not delivering the funds and keeping it for themselves do you not get?
The union sent out dues notices last week and in bold letters demanded payment within 30 days or face fines. Funny, this same union takes 3 to six months to cut a check and it is always- ALWAYS less than what is owed. Not sure why you’d try to defend thieves, unless of course your name is Ken or Roberta… Funny, ken makes more money now hiding under Roberta’s skirt than he has ever made acting. How ironic is that? Actors making sure an unemployed actor makes a living… Too funny.
Comment by Anonymous — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 7:37am PDT Reply to this post
I’d just be happy with a lawsuit to force the geniuses in charge to merge the health plans.
Comment by da — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 3:29pm PDT Reply to this post
Ed Asner! I could only wish you were still at the helm of this joke of the union.
Comment by WaWa — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 3:53am PDT Reply to this post
leave,,,one less would be just fine!
Comment by intheknow — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 3:24pm PDT Reply to this post
Foreign and domestic actors residuals should be paid to the actors WITHOUT any unnecessary expenses or charges by SAG – AFTRA.
CONGRATULATIONS to Ed Asner, Clancy Brown, Dennis Hayden, and George Coe and the rest of the 15 plaintiffs who filed suit in federal court against SAG-AFTRA for not properly disbursing $110 million in foreign residuals they say have not been paid out. JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL FOR SAS-AFTRA members!
Comment by Ed Rudy — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 5:38am PDT Reply to this post
Oh boy. More Members’ dues being wasted by another frivolous lawsuit. Get a clue Ed. Stop wasting our dues and start working with SAG-AFTRA to solve these problems.
Comment by Rik Deskin — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 10:02am PDT Reply to this post
In my casts experience with this issue, the film “Bring It On Fight To The Finish” a Universal Film…The production company along with SAG-AFTRA agreed to “Re-naming” the film several times over as a way “not” to hit the salary cap in order to pay out residuals to it’s actors. The film has a different name in almost every region of the UK, ASIA, Etc. To date we all have never been paid any of our foreign residuals.
SAG-AFTRA’s response was this:
The renaming of this production due to the release in foreign territories will not affect you from receiving residuals as the producer is obligated to pay residuals on worldwide distribution. As mentioned below, residuals will be due for foreign markets when the threshold amount reaches $1,860,000.
In addition, residual payment was mailed to you on 07-DEC-2012, 2nd quarter of June, Markets: Basic Cable (ABC Family), Pay TV, DVD and other internet.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Thanks again for inquiring to Residuals Mail.
(The film grossed over 5 million in it’s first couple of months…the actors have never been paid)
Comment by Vanessa Born — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 10:51am PDT Reply to this post
Actors should be glad we still pay them.
You will take what you get and be happy with it.
Comment by Studio Mogul — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 11:07am PDT Reply to this post
You tell ‘em, Studio Mogul!
Just yank the carpet out of those content providers! Shut down Avengers 2, NCIS, Big Bang Theory, and all those cash cows! That’ll show ‘em!
Comment by KeepItReel — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 8:40pm PDT Reply to this post
Seriously?! ANOTHER obviously frivolous lawsuit from the same group of discontented actors? They’ve lost EVERY suit they’ve brought against MY union and they’ve cost MY union hundreds of thousands of MY dues dollars!! they lost on the merger vote by HUGE numbers. What makes them think they’re representing anyone but themselves?! Please stop watching out for us members. We can’t afford it!!!
Comment by Scott — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 11:20am PDT Reply to this post
Really? Where was your outrage when Roberta Reardon was being PAID thousands of dollars (of your dues dollars) for a *volunteer* position as head of AFTRA? Is she still being paid this monthly “stipend”? Are she and Ken H. being paid? These are volunteer positions and not to have a salary drawn.
Further, you claiming it’s an “obviously frivolous” lawsuit does not make it so. Perhaps you don’t understand the issue at hand. Perhaps you’re simply ignorant and spouting off about things you don’t know, which covers about 90% of all internet bitching. If you’re so worried about where your dues money (and P&H contributions) is going, push harder at SAG-AFTRA for some answers and resolutions to their promises. Ask questions and force them to answer them.
(Hint: they won’t.) The new SAG-AFTRA is a sham.
Comment by Ace — Sunday May 26, 2013 @ 2:11pm PDT Reply to this post
Thanks troll! “MY union, MY dues dollars…” Ha! Full of it, much?
Comment by SAG actor — Sunday May 26, 2013 @ 7:39pm PDT Reply to this post
Why are these guys whipping a dead horse? They were already shot down twice by the Federal court for the same complaint. I believe the courts said they need to take the issue to the proper authorities – European court. Also, the amount they are claiming is grossly inflated.
Comment by Mildwest interest — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 11:24am PDT Reply to this post
“Lavish parties and big salaries.” Haha–where? This resplendent lifestyle of union officials must be why LA membership meetings are now held in the office lobby, the New York office is cramming from three floors over two buildings into one sardine can floor elsewhere, ten offices have closed, sixty-some staff just got laid off, and those who remain are paid less than their studio counterparts so they can be the vanguard for members who seethe and bite at them from the sidelines. It’s a real Easy Street…someone fill my champagne flute!
People work for the labor movement because they believe in it, certainly not because it’s profitable.
Comment by GetReal — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 11:51am PDT Reply to this post
$400K/year for David White is pretty sweet–he sure isn’t going to make that anywhere else. Same goes for the rest of the union’s executive staff and their six-figure (or quarter-million-a-year) salaries.
Yeah, the little guys in the regions got a knife in the back for their complicity in dismantling SAG–but there are others in union management who are doing just find.
Comment by KeepitReal — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 8:33pm PDT Reply to this post
“People work for the labor movement because they believe in it, certainly not because it’s profitable.”
I would insert the word “some” at the beginning of this sentence.
Comment by Matt Mulhern — Tuesday May 28, 2013 @ 9:58am PDT Reply to this post
Membership, Wake up. You are being hoodwinked by your current SAGAFTER leadership.
For the record, SAGAFTER leadership’s estimation in this recent press release that a previous class action lawsuit regarding unpaid foreign residuals had a “resolution FAVORABLE to the union after intense scrutiny of the program.” is revisionist history at best. At worst it’s an out and out lie.
Here’s SAG’s 2010 response to the resolution of that CLASS-ACTION suit in 2007 led by Ken Osmond who played Eddie Haskell on “Leave it to Beaver” :
“Under the class action lawsuit settlement, SAG has agreed to hire independent consultants to review its foreign levies program and recommend a schedule for repayment of outstanding royalties, which is estimated to be nearly $8 million. It will also post on its website a bi-monthly list of performers for whom at least $10 in foreign royalties are owed but have not yet been paid.”
So let me understand this SAGAFTER leadership; a court-ordered $18 million pay out is a favorable resolution? What would you have considered unfavorable?
How about just once the new SAGAFTER leadership deals with a concern rather than immediately discounting the people raising concerns.
Show us the Carfax. Open up the books. We are the membership. It’s our money.
Now is a good time to get answers.
Some intelligent members have stood up with this suit and said it looks like our leadership is mishandling our money. How about an answer to that question SAGAFTER leadership, as opposed to a character assassination of our own brothers and sisters? How about transparency instead of broad stroke character assassinations and denials?
These are your concerns, my fellow members. It’s a $110 million.
Thanks to Mr. Ansner, Mr. Brown, Mr. Hayden, Mr. Coe, and others who have our backs.
Comment by zackery — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 1:39pm PDT Reply to this post
Way to go Ed!! Good luck, Get them in COURT !!!
Comment by Keifus — Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 3:09pm PDT Reply to this post
Once more we see the true stripes of what unions are all about. Union thugs who have worked their way up the ladder though the school of mafia taticics, they lead the minion of idiots who believe that they have their best interests at heart. All the while extorting, ordering the destruction of other people’s property, thievery, threats of violence, living high off others efforts. Typical leftist crap. You minions of union progressive thought hand over your individual rights to elitist dirtbags. You all vote these thugs because they spuied out your tenants of progressive thought. What you received is what you deserved. Have a nice day.
Comment by Union Stooges — Sunday May 26, 2013 @ 7:42am PDT Reply to this post
Oh… go produce a reality show.
Comment by SAG actor — Sunday May 26, 2013 @ 7:55pm PDT Reply to this post
Imagine this! I called the trust dept. last month because I never, ever received a penny for all the reruns made for Filmation. They said they’d received checks some time ago, but after taxes the net was zero. Interesting, since I’m a loan-out and no taxes are ever withheld.
Comment by Alan Oppenheimer — Sunday May 26, 2013 @ 3:53pm PDT Reply to this post
I just received a residual this past week.
It was for a gross of $0.08. The net was $0.05.
It was a sad moment.
Comment by Vincent Hanna — Monday May 27, 2013 @ 3:05pm PDT Reply to this post
My partner is an animation Director for Disney, and works under Animation Guild contracts. And, while not a member of the DGA, the DGA consistently sends him his foreign royalties due to him as a courtesy. EVERY YEAR. ANYTIME ANYTHING plays in France, Germany, etc. They do this like clockwork and with NO PROBLEM. Why the F**K can’t SAG/AFTRA do it for US!??!?!? It’s absolutely ridiculous and you don’t have to look further than this point right here to see why. WHY are they waiting so long? WHAT are they hiding? Good SAG/AFTRA, encourage more people to go FiCore. Not that that will change what’s at hand right now, but they’ll do it just to spite you. That’s what sucks, SAG/AFTRA is not really WORKING with us – they are encouraging our wrath. And we’ll see how far they take it… :) J
Comment by Jason — Wednesday May 29, 2013 @ 4:27pm PDT Reply to this post
Click on the button below complemets of SAG wacthdog
Secret Actors Guild song, Lyrics below
There's a Guild that leads a life of danger
To every member it's become a stranger
With every move it makes another vote it takes
Odds are you won't get to vote tomorrow
Secret Actors Guild, Secret Actors Guild
To them you're just a number and to us that's a shame
Beware of pretty faces that you follow
A pretty face can hide a mind that's hollow
be careful of what she'll say
Or she'll take your voice away
Odds are you won't get to vote tomorrow
Secret Actors Guild, Secret Actors Guild
You have to qualify, or kiss your vote goodbye
------ lead guitar ------
Secret Actors Guild, Secret Actors Guild
They'll take your vote away to appease the ATA
Everything they do is confidential
To their success secrecy's essential
If you let the wrong word slip
The membership you'll tip
And they will make your life a living sorrow
Secret Actors Guild, Secret Actors guild
They'll make us second rate -- to consolidate
* Look for Conway's soon to be released 8 track album "A Man And His Union Suit" with such hits as "Trap Door Conway," "Don't Picket Your Nose," "Your Love For Me Has Sagged" "AFTRA The Bail is Over" and five other stellar
And Crabtree-Ireland responds extensively and unwisely.
7:28 PM PDT 6/6/2013 by Jonathan Handel
A recently filed lawsuit against SAG-AFTRA by disgruntled members is structured as a direct attack on national executive director David White and chief administrative officer and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, according to a copy of the suit obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
“The instant action was filed because SAG-AFTRA has resisted all efforts to obtain accountability and transparency in Union finances,” the plaintiffs' attorney Helena Sunny Wise told THR in an email. In that context, White and/or Crabtree-Ireland are portrayed as motivating forces behind an array of alleged improper practices relating to foreign royalties and residuals and are mentioned 49 times in the 52-page page document.
“To put it mildly,” Wise said, “‘inquiring minds want to know.’”
“SAG-AFTRA is a very transparent organization,” Crabtree-Ireland responded in an email. “Public annual reports with extreme detail running to hundreds of pages are filed with the Department of Labor and the IRS and are available online to all. (In addition), the union has provided comprehensive information in related class action litigation (filed by Ken Osmond) that resulted in a (judicially-approved) settlement.”
He added, “The plaintiffs – self-designated and not elected by anyone – have nonetheless been offered access to review requested information, which they have declined to exercise. Instead, five months (later), the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit.”
Some cited grievances against White and Crabtree-Ireland date back to 2002, when White was general counsel of the organization under the leadership of then national executive director Robert Pisano, and Crabtree-Ireland was on the legal staff.
White and Crabtree-Ireland are not named as defendants in the suit, but they probably will be: The complaint (read it in full here), filed on behalf of former SAG president Ed Asner and others, seeks court permission to add “the appropriate offending officers, employees, agents, Consultants, and representatives of SAG-AFTRA” as defendants.
The sheer length of the complaint and breadth of its assertions all but guarantee a lengthy and expensive litigation process. For that reason, THR is presenting an extended analysis of the complaint and SAG-AFTRA’s response. Although many readers will find the detail mind-numbing, those who are concerned about the matters discussed will, we hope, welcome the in-depth examination.
The thrust of the complaint is that the union has operated its foreign royalties program incompetently and in a manner designed to improperly funnel money into the union's general fund.
Crabtree-Ireland responded that this contention had already been raised in the prior Osmond case and said, “The whole reason for the existence of the foreign royalties program is to collect money and get it in the hands of our members, and SAG-AFTRA and SAG have done exactly that.” He added, “More than $15 million has been distributed so far to performers, and if the union hadn’t claimed those funds when we did, they would have been lost to our members forever due to foreign collecting society claim deadlines.”
The complaint also accuses the union of acting to “solidify and whitewash the collection, disbursement and retention of Foreign Royalties and Residuals.”
“Once accountability and transparency is achieved,” Wise said, “Plaintiffs will pursue all avenues for relief envisioned by Congress, the Department of Labor and the Judiciary, including, if appropriate, a housecleaning, reimbursement of inappropriate expenditures, and criminal sanctions.”
“The claim that the union is not being transparent is patently false,” Crabtree-Ireland fired back. “The fact that (the plaintiffs) ignored the opportunity to meet and instead simply filed a lawsuit demonstrates that they are not really interested in transparency, but rather appear to be interested in filing unnecessary litigation.”
The suit asks for an accounting, examination of books and records, injunctions, damages, punitive damages, attorneys fees and expenses and “establishment of an independent body to collect and pay all Foreign Royalties subject to Court supervision.”
The practices complained of in the litigation include issues related to last year’s union merger, union endorsement of residuals checks, delays in residuals processing, alleged failure to locate easily locatable residuals recipients and more.
The central allegations of the suit – namely, allegations that the union has improperly withheld funds and stonewalled requests for information about millions of dollars held in trust by the union, and allegations that the union has no authority to collect foreign royalties – are not unfamiliar. Whether Hollywood unions even have the right to collect foreign royalties, let alone on behalf of non-members and/or for movies and TV shows that aren’t under their jurisdiction, was the subject of three state-court class-action lawsuits – one each against the DGA, SAG and WGA – filed in the mid-2000s.
In essence, the unions contended that without their willingness to step up and take on the collecting and disbursement role, all of the collected monies would have gone to the studios and producers – or have been retained by foreign collecting societies. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs argued that the unions cut a bad deal with the studios (i.e., that more or all of the monies should go to talent), that they had done a poor job administering, accounting for and disbursing the sums they do receive and that they had unlawfully retained a large portion of the foreign royalties due performers.
Those lawsuits were settled, with the unions permitted to make collections and disbursements, subject to reporting. Attorney Neville Johnson, who filed all three suits, says the process since then has not been smooth.
“The DGA is very closed and uncooperative in providing information ... and is hostile to those making inquiries,” Johnson told THR. In contrast, he said, “the WGA seems to be making progress, but we’re getting anecdotal evidence that they’re uncooperative with members inquiring about payments.”
Regarding SAG-AFTRA, Johnson said that two consultants are just starting their examination of the union as part of a reporting process set up in the settlement of the Osmond case against SAG. The new lawsuit “raises very serious questions about SAG-AFTRA’s administrative process,” Johnson said. “We hope the plaintiffs are successful in opening the books and relevant agreements.”
Johnson is not connected to the new suit – which, in fact, would effectively undo the Osmond settlement by requesting appointment of “an independent body” to collect and pay foreign levies received in the U.S.
Whether the latest suit, filed in federal court, is barred by the settlement of the earlier state court action is likely to be hotly disputed. Wise told THR that unlike the new suit, the Osmond action was not filed under federal labor law, did not address residuals, did not “seek to enforce a member’s rights to accountability and transparency in Union finances” and did not encompass AFTRA’s finances. She suggested that these differences would insulate the new action from any preclusive effect of the old. In addition, a Sept. 11, 2012, letter from individuals who later became the plaintiffs to the union co-presidents said that “we the undersigned were either among the 31 performers who either opted out of the Osmond litigation or were never even given notice of the Osmond litigation.”
The union responded that “it’s incredible that anyone would think that yet another lawsuit rehashing the same territory would be helpful. All it will do is waste further member money and union resources on unnecessary legal fees and defense costs.”
In addition, the union said that only three of the plaintiffs had opted out of the Osmond litigation.
Litigation and Elections
Also an issue: The new suit “seek(s) to recover damages on behalf of members and non-members alike,” yet is not filed as a class action. The union told THR that this is improper pleading and said that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) and case law make it clear that litigation is pursued solely on behalf of the named parties unless a class action under FRCP 23 is initiated.
In addition to Asner, the plaintiffs in the suit are Clancy Brown, George Coe, Tom Bower, Dennis Hayden, William Richert, Louis Reeko Meserole, Terrence Beasor, Alex McArthur, Ed O’Ross, Roger Callard, Steven Barr, Russell Gannon, Stephen Wastell, James A. Osburn, and Eric Hughes aka Jon Whiteley, who identify themselves collectively as the United Screen Actors Committee (USAC). Several are former SAG board members.
Although operating under a new moniker, several of the individuals have been plaintiffs in previous lawsuits against SAG prior to the merger with AFTRA. Hughes, who is also a WGA member, was an objector to the settlement of the state court action against that union as well as an objector to the Osmond settlement.
Some of the USAC plaintiffs were associated with the SAG political group MembershipFirst, which controlled the union from 2005 through early 2009. It’s not known, however, whether USAC will operate as a political group in this year’s SAG-AFTRA elections, which are already in the early stages. Nominating petitions have been available since mid-May and are due back June 14. Candidate lists will be released several days thereafter, but until then the identity of candidates is not publicly known.
Given the timing, the litigation will likely be reflected in the election as an effort to tie the current elected leadership to the alleged issues surrounding foreign royalties. White was appointed as national executive director in January 2009 at a time when the union’s board was narrowly controlled by the same political groups – including L.A.’s Unite for Strength – that control the union today. That appointment came with the firing of then-director Doug Allen, who was identified with MembershipFirst. Three years later, the union membership voted 82 percent in favor of merger, a stunning reversal of fortune for MembershipFirst.
“Our membership knows and understands what the union is doing, and our plans for the future have been validated by the overwhelming vote of the membership approving the constitution and merger plans,” said Crabtree-Ireland. “Historically, our members have expressed their collective frustration with people who try to use the legal system to interfere with our democratic processes.”
Foreign Royalties Defined
Foreign royalties (also called foreign levies) result from sums that collection societies in certain countries collect based on various government regulations. The societies then remit a portion of the U.S.-destined payments to the DGA, SAG-AFTRA and WGA for payment to individual “authors” (i.e., writers and directors) and performers – both union members and non-members.
Another portion of the collected monies is paid to the U.S. studios or producers, who under U.S. law and customary entertainment contracts are deemed the authors of the movies, television shows and other audiovisual works at issue. The fact that monies are split between the studios and talent is a consequence of balancing the contrasting U.S. and foreign definitions of “author” and was arrived at in agreements between the guilds and studios in the early 1990s.
Foreign royalties are distinct from foreign residuals. The latter are computed according to the terms of the collective bargaining agreements between the unions and studios. As confusing as residuals – and especially foreign residuals – can be, foreign royalties are even murkier.
Among the current suit’s allegations:
* Pisano, White, Crabtree-Ireland Alleged Scheme. The complaint alleges that more than a decade ago, White, Crabtree-Ireland and then national executive director Robert Pisano moved to diminish the union’s transparency: “commencing in or about 2002, a scheme was concocted by various staff employed by SAG, including its then Executive Director, ROBERT PISANO, as well as members of its legal staff, including WHITE and CRABTREE-IRELAND, as well as labor consultant ROBERT HADL, all of whom have been traditionally aligned with the interests of management, to confuse the elected leadership of SAG and the membership concerning the role and fiduciary responsibilities of SAG, as a labor organization, in collecting, distributing and accounting for monies owing to performers.”
The union’s response: “The allegations are factually impossible. Crabtree-Ireland didn’t even begin working on foreign royalties issues until after White left SAG in 2006. The framework for the Foreign Video Levy Agreement was in place prior to White starting at the Guild in 2002. Pisano left the Guild several years prior to the beginning of mass distributions of foreign royalties. The only common interest among these three individuals was to do whatever they could to maximize the collection and distribution of foreign royalties to our members.”
* David White’s Alleged Connection to Marc Dreier. The complaint alleges, “Transparency in and accountability of Union finances is further warranted because of a blatant refusal to disclose expenditures or receipts involving the ENTERTAINMENT STRATEGIES GROUP (ESG) where DAVID WHITE was employed after WHITE departed SAG as its General Counsel in 2005 and from which WHITE returned to SAG to become its Interim National Executive Director, following the arrest of attorney MARC DREIER who controlled ESG. The sentencing alone of DREIER, now serving twenty years in federal prison for a variety of offenses, including investment fraud affecting numerous Union Funds, and the arrest of DREIER for impersonating a representative of a Teacher's Pension Fund in Toronto, California, (sic) alone warrants full disclosure, with certain Plaintiffs having reason to believe that WHITE did not divulge the full extent of ESG' s investment schemes, let alone to what degree WHITE and other former SAG employees may have if not continued to commit Labor Union funds to said ventures. In these regards, Plaintiffs note that following his return to SAG, and now as the National Executive Director of SAG-AFTRA, WHITE has ensured the funneling of continued consulting opportunities to SALLIE WEAVER who worked with WHITE at ESG and for which accountability has been actively resisted by WHITE.”
The union told The Hollywood Reporter that “this is another version of the periodic meritless and ridiculous personal attacks on the union’s leadership. It’s an attempt to depict a degree of connection (to Dreier) that simply did not exist.”
* Escheat Laws and Delaware Incorporation. Prior to merger, SAG was a California corporation and AFTRA an unincorporated New York association. In contrast, pursuant to the constitution and bylaws approved by members in the merger vote, SAG-AFTRA is incorporated in Delaware. The union’s leaders say this was in order to take advantage of features of Delaware corporate law that allow for greater flexibility in structuring the legal entity, SAG-AFTRA.
The complaint – and merger opponents at the time merger was being voted on – charge(s)/(d) a different purpose, arguing that the move was designed to allow the union to hold and control unclaimed residuals and foreign royalties that would otherwise have escheated (i.e., transferred) to the state under unclaimed property laws.
By incorporating in Delaware, says the complaint, the union avoids California law, and instead is subject to Delaware law. Since few SAG-AFTRA members live in Delaware, the effect of this according to the complaint is that no escheat laws are applicable where the majority of SAG-AFTRA members live, California, allowing the union to maintain control of unclaimed residuals and foreign royalties.
However, the union says an examination of California escheat law shows that this claim has no merit. First, the basic provisions of the escheat law – Sec. 1510(a) & (b)(1) of the California Code of Civil Procedure – say that California’s law applies when “the last known address of the apparent owner is in this state.”
That means that for unlocatable California members the member’s state is what matters, not the union’s. The union’s domicile only matters for non-California members in some states and then only if the union hasn’t paid the funds to the other state.
Second, the union says that Sec. 1521 – and a ruling by New York’s Comptroller – state that the escheat laws do not apply to residuals. That means, according to the union, unclaimed residuals of California and New York members did not escheat even when SAG was a California corporation. The situation under SAG-AFTRA is no different, says the union.
The California code section the union adverts to is not a model of clarity: that section speaks of “employee benefit plans,” not deferred wages (which is what residuals are) – and then references “employee benefit plan distribution(s) in the form of residuals,” a phrase whose meaning is unclear on its face. Indeed, Wise pointed to the “employee benefit plans” language in email correspondence with THR.
However, the union provided THR with a copy of a March 30, 2005, letter from the California State Controller’s office that appears definitive on this point as to California members. It says the office had reviewed residuals plan documents provided by SAG with reference to Sec. 1521 and concluded that “the unclaimed residuals owed to the Screen Actors Guild members under the Residuals Payment Plan are exempt and do not escheat to the State of California.”
Third, the union points out that it has staff who actively try to locate the owners of unclaimed residuals and foreign royalties, as well as a website listing the owners, whereas it says the state of California simply maintains a registry and website rather than making active efforts. For that reason, the union tells THR, the union does a better job than the state would. In contrast, the complaint alleges that the union hasn’t done the job well, and that an independent organization should be set up instead.
* Residuals and Foreign Royalties Staff. The complaint asserts without detail that SAG-AFTRA has “understaffed as well as placed individuals with questionable credentials in charge of ensuring timely distribution of Residuals and Foreign Royalties.” The union denies this, and adds that its hiring process includes skills tests and interviews.
* Failure to Locate People who are Allegedly Easy to Locate. The complaint asserts that SAG-AFTRA retains residuals owed to people who are easy to locate: “SAG (sic) leadership, including CRABTREE-IRELAND has sought to justify the burgeoning retention of Residuals on the premise that SAG cannot locate the heirs or estates of such well known entertainment and/or political icons as Frank Sinatra, John F. Kennedy, Larry Hagman or Sonny Bono, while lacking the ability to send checks owing to the parents of television personality Anderson Cooper, including his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, or his now deceased father, Wyatt Cooper, let alone Ed Asner's son, Matthew Asner who is now the Southern California Executive Director of Autism Speaks.”
The union responds that “unclaimed funds can linger for high profile individuals (for) a variety of reasons, including:
“(1) If the individual is deceased, their estate can be subject to probate proceedings, there may be a dispute among heirs and beneficiaries as to who is entitled to the money, or the estate may simply be taking their time in providing us the necessary documentation to establish who is entitled to the money.
“(2) Family law disputes (divorces, conservatorships, other proceedings) can require us to hold funds pending the resolution of those issues.
“(3) Occasionally members will attempt to assign (sell) their interest in future residuals, and the buyer of those rights will attempt to claim the residuals despite a dispute from the member, raising legal issues under statutes like Cal. Labor Code Sec. 300. Such residuals must be held until the dispute is resolved.
“(4) Well known people may move or change representation and not tell us. Even when we locate them, we have to receive confirming documentation so we can be certain we are not sending substantial sums of money to an unauthorized person or address. Sometimes getting those documents back to us is not their highest priority, and the funds are held.”
In addition, according to the union, approximately 94 percent of SAG residuals checks on average are mailed to and received by performers in a given year, and 6 percent of the checks are undeliverable. The union said that corresponds to an average of 99 percent of the SAG residuals dollars mailed to performers annually, with 1 percent undeliverable. AFTRA-side figures were not immediately available.
* Diminution of Residuals and Foreign Royalty Payments. The complaint says that “not long after the DGA and the WGA were threatened with suit because of their withholding of Foreign Royalties, SAG grossly diminished its payment of Residuals and Foreign Royalties, if not suspended payments completely to mask an (u)lterior covert motive to stockpile as part of SAG's own assets undistributed Residuals and Foreign Royalties.”
Regarding residuals, the union told THR, “The dollar amount of residuals that come in the door is dependent on employment and distribution of projects. It’s a fluctuating number, with a general upwards trend. Residuals checks are payable directly to the member, and they are processed as quickly as possible and mailed – uncashed – to the member. The member receives exactly the amount of money payrolled by the producer or distributor.”
Regarding foreign royalties, the union responded: “Since distributions began in 2007, we have been engaged in a continuous process of distributing foreign royalties as quickly as possible, and have gone from around $250,000 total distributed in 2007 to an aggregate total distributed since inception of more than $16.6 million today. The only diminution of the performers share of these sums is the Board and Court approved administrative fee of 10%. Note that members do not pay dues on foreign royalties collected for them by the union.”
The audited foreign royalties report shows disbursements increasing year over year, except for one year when both receipts and disbursements declined, and another year when disbursements declined by about $2,000. The plaintiffs dispute the nature and accuracy of the report.
* Growth of Trust Fund. The complaint asserts that “SAG has in turn converted Residuals and Foreign Royalties to its own use . . . As evidence of same, Plaintiffs note that in 2002, SAG reported on its LM-2, that it was holding only $12,085,425, in trust for its members. As of 2011, SAG reported on its LM-2 that said monies had grown to in excess of $95,205,672, while SAG-AFTRA, after one month of operation, purported that the sum being held in these regards, presumably in different accounts, was now in excess of $110,000,000.”
The union responded to THR that the amounts listed include funds held in trust for producers as well as residuals, foreign royalties and other deposits. The union added that all of the funds were audited by the external auditors each year including all the years in question and that growth in trust amounts is largely due to additional deposits for increased production activity and other factors.
* Unions’ “Wrongfully Endorsing” Residuals Checks. The complaint says that SAG-AFTRA wrongfully endorses residuals checks.
The union’s response is that since 1960, its collective bargaining agreement has provided for this; that its constitution and bylaws expressly authorize it (and that SAG’s did also); and that it only endorses checks when performers cannot be located, or there is a lack of clarity or dispute as to the beneficiary of a deceased performer or of a performer who has assigned his residuals income to another entity.
In these circumstances, the union told THR, failing to endorse and deposit the checks would allow the checks to go stale and become non-negotiable, meaning that new checks would have to be requested from the producer when the matter was resolved – which could be years later. At that point, the producer might resist reissuing the check, or the producer itself (in the case of small entities) may no longer exist or be locatable.
* Delay in Residuals Processing. The complaint asserts that the delay in processing residuals payments has increased three-fold (the complaint doesn’t say over what period). The union disputes that figure, stating that residuals processing took 45 days pre-merger and is at about 60 days now. That’s twice the union’s target of 30 days, but SAG-AFTRA says that merger required integrating two very different IT systems, SAG’s and AFTRA’s, and that the number of residuals checks received has more than doubled in five years, from 1.8 million checks per year in 2008 to approximately 4 million forecast for 2013.
* Relative Size of SAG/SAG-AFTRA Foreign Royalties vs. DGA and WGA. The complaint critically contrasts the amount of foreign royalties collected by SAG, which the complaint pegs at “less than fifteen million (dollars),” to the over one hundred million dollars collected by each of the other two guilds.
Per the audited reports of each guild, the approximate total amounts collected are WGA $148 million (through FY 2012), DGA at least $92 million (though FY 2011) and SAG $23 million (through FY 2012). So the SAG figures are indeed substantially lower than the other two unions – but the union says there’s a reason for that: international intellectual property treaties only recognize rights for “authors” (i.e., writers and directors), rather than for performers. As a result, said the union, fewer countries provide for royalties for foreign performers. The union added that the WIPO Beijing Audiovisual Performances Treaty would improve this situation, but that it is pending ratification and entry into force.
* First-Class Travel. The complaint asserts that “fiduciary duties owing to the Union membership (may) have been compromised because of the expenditure of Union funds on First Class travel,” and in an email to THR Wise was unequivocal: “The fact that the Labor Organization continues to pay for First Class Airfare while surrendering this benefit for its members in contract negotiations is disturbing and warrants further scrutiny.”
The union responded that “the union's practice is that no one travels first class at SAG-AFTRA's expense, except that the co-presidents are authorized to do so by the union’s travel policy, and business class travel is authorized under certain circumstances.”