"To close a gap between the guild's expected revenue and costs in the upcoming fiscal year budget, SAG is undertaking a number of expense reductions, including the elimination of some staff positions," SAG spokesperson Pamela Greenwalt said Monday. "This is a difficult but necessary step that must be taken to responsibly address the fiscal realities confronting our organization."
On Saturday, the national board approved a $60 million annual budget even as it contends with a $6.5 million operating deficit for fiscal 2009.
The pink slips come at a tumultuous time for the union, which has suffered from a year of destructive internal political struggles, declining revenue from dues and investments, a slowdown in film work for actors as guild leadership negotiated the TV-theatrical contract and a flood of TV pilots that moved to AFTRA coverage.
"I have asked all employees nationwide to convene tomorrow morning so that I, and our executive team, can speak directly to you about this situation and its consequences," interim national executive director David White said Monday in a staff memo.
Under the leadership of SAG president Alan Rosenberg and ousted NED Doug Allen, the union's staff grew to about 440 employees. According to SAGWatch.net, which dug up the union's recent financial reports filed with the Department of Labor, SAG spent slightly less than $81 million in 2005-06, about $94 million in 2006-07 and cleared $100 million in 2007-08.
As the blog points out, that's an increase in spending of 26% that is unmatched by a parallel increase in revenue.
Meanwhile, the union missed out on $60-plus million in pay increases as a result of rejecting the TV-theatrical offer that had been sitting on the table since June.
SAG national organizing director Todd Amorde left his post last week, though that appears unrelated to this downsizing.
Jay Fernandez writes for The Hollywood Reporter.