SAG-AFTRA’s funds held in trust have jumped by 16% to $153 million since last year, according to the union’s latest filing with the federal government.
Those funds have been at the center of a long-running dispute, dating back to a 2007 suit filed by Ken Osmond (“Leave It to Beaver) over how foreign royalties and residuals are handled by the union.
The disclosure came in Tuesday’s filing of SAG-AFTRA’s LM-2 report with he U.S. Department of Labor for the fiscal year ended April 30, which listed that the “Funds Held in Trust for Others” category at $153.04 million. The previous year’s figure was $132.26 million.
SAG-AFTRA had no immediate response to an inquiry to explain the increase.
In May, 2013, Ed Asner and 15 other union members filed suit, alleging SAG-AFTRA has improperly withheld funds and stonewalled requests for information about the money held in trust by the union — including domestic residuals and foreign royalties collected by the union through foreign collecting societies without authorization or knowledge of union members.
The suit also alleged that the union has cashed residuals checks and then claimed an inability to locate the actors to whom it owes money. A federal judge dismissed the suit in January, finding the union had been sufficiently cooperative in providing access to its materials — but also indicated that the plaintiffs would be able to re-visit the issue.
Eric Hughes, one of the plaintiffs in the Asner suit, said Wednesday in response to the new LM2 report: “SAG-AFTRA not only continues to violate the filing requirements imposed by federal law by failing to properly report all financial receipts but the sum of monies due but not delivered to members stunningly increases. The records the union has given us to review are not the records necessary to verify, explain or clarify its reporting.”
Osmond settled his case in 2011 and SAG and AFTRA merged in March, 2012. SAG’s fiscal 2012 report listed $100.48 million for the same item while the AFTRA LM2 national report listed a total of $11 million including $7.53 million of funds due to members that the union could not locate.
None of the four LM2 reports broke down the funds further.
When asked about the fund increase last year, SAG-AFTRA General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said that most of the funds are deposits by producers — but did not disclose specific numbers.
“The majority of funds held in trust relate to production security deposits and residuals reserves – funds that will be returned to producers unless they breach their obligations under SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreements,” he said at the time. “The amount of these funds held fluctuates greatly depending on production activity and production budgets. Only a very small portion of these funds relate to foreign royalties, and those funds are only held temporarily while they are allocated and distributed.”
“SAG-AFTRA had no immediate response to an inquiry to explain the increase.” Boy there’s a first!
The Ol’ SAG Watchdog
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