The new leader of the Screen Actors Guild began his term with a plea for unity as members try to decide how to pursue more DVD and online residuals and other concessions from studios.
The removal of national executive director Doug Allen was a victory for more moderate union members, who blamed him for failed negotiations with studios. Plans to resume negotiations under new leadership will delay, for now, the possibility of an actors' strike.
"It is time to turn the page on the most destructive aspects of the guild's internal politics," new executive director David White said in a message sent Tuesday afternoon to SAG's 120,000 members. "In this swiftly changing environment, we will not be successful if we do not work together."
The national board's majority fired Doug Allen as national executive director Monday, replacing him with White, the union's former general counsel. SAG members have been without a contract since June 30, 2008, when Allen and other negotiators rejected a proposal from studios.
One SAG official who didn't get White's unity message — or didn't like it — was SAG President Alan Rosenberg. He accused union moderates of sabotaging the leadership in order to "pave the way toward a return to the go-along-to-get-along days of yore."
He said many within SAG believe Allen was fired because he was "simply too good, too strong and too much a unionist."
The national board majority — who hold 53 percent of seats — used a "written assent" to remove Allen after a filibuster blocked an attempt to remove him two weeks ago. They also replaced Allen with SAG veteran John McGuire as the union's chief negotiator.