Anticipating cost savings through employee furloughs and work-hour reductions, SAG-AFTRA’s Executive Committee today overwhelmingly approved a new $96 million budget that “responsibly corresponds to current and anticipated production shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the union said in a statement. It’s the first time during the pandemic that the union has mentioned furloughs or cuts in work hours for its staff.
“Employees whose workloads have been eliminated by the production shutdown will be furloughed until the industry returns to work,” the union said. “Other employees will be placed on a reduced-hours schedule to correspond to their decreased workload during this time. These measures will be implemented in a manner that takes advantage of available federal and state programs to help replace lost income for affected personnel.”
The budget, which includes $5 million from reserves, is for the fiscal year beginning May 1, 2020. The SAG-AFTRA National Board voted last month to give the 38-person executive committee the authority to take such actions on behalf of the board during “this time of extraordinary national emergency.”
“In the face of an unprecedented global pandemic that has brought the economy and our industry to a virtual standstill, we must take the steps necessary to protect our membership and the financial strength of the union,” said SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White. “This budget strategically responds to the severe challenges in the current business climate while ensuring we can emerge with strength to protect members when they return to work in the future.”
“Our duty to our members and our obligation as stewards of the organization is clear,” said Gabrielle Carteris, the union’s president. “With this budget, thoughtful, responsible, and strategic decisions have been made that align operating expenses with our projected revenues in a time of extraordinary industry disruption. Now, as always, our top priority is the protection of our members.”
The budget approval, the guild said, “comes amidst financial projections of the industry’s sustained decline in production activity and the subsequent impact on budget. The SAG-AFTRA finance committee unanimously recommended the budget based on revenue preservation moves, including reductions in personnel costs and operating expenses.”
The union said it will “optimize workflow and technology savings by removing redundant positions and those functions that will no longer be an organizational priority. The budget also anticipates cost savings through employee furloughs and work-hour reductions.
The 160,000-member union said it will “continue to monitor this unprecedented situation closely and take appropriate measures as needed to protect SAG-AFTRA’s membership and operational priorities.”