Los Angeles (September 29, 2005) – In a move that signals an increased focus on organizing, strategic planning and agency relations, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Executive Director/CEO Greg Hessinger today announced the appointment of two longtime union professionals to the Guild’s senior staff. Rebecca Rhine and John Russum, currently executives at the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), will assume key executive positions at the Guild, with Rhine focusing on short and long-term strategic planning and Russum overseeing the union’s organizing efforts and agency relations.
“The Guild’s elected leaders and rank-and-file members today are confronting serious decisions about how our union will evolve and adapt in order to expand its influence in a rapidly changing industry,” said Hessinger. “The addition of Rebecca and John – two highly experienced, smart and creative union experts – to our existing outstanding staff will help clarify our vision, build our reach and move our agenda forward effectively. I am very pleased they have agreed to join the Guild’s staff.”
Rhine will hold the newly created post of Special Advisor for Strategic Planning and will be based in San Francisco. Based in Los Angeles, Russum will fill the post of Deputy National Executive Director for Organizing and Agent Relations. Russum will largely fill the position held by Hollis Batchelor, who is retiring at the end of the year after 30 years at the Guild. Both Rhine and Russum will officially join the Guild staff in November.
Hessinger added: “Stronger and more effective national organizing and reaching a solution to the current impasse with talent agents are central priorities for our union. Long and short-term strategic planning will form the foundation for those efforts.”
Rhine currently serves as AFTRA’s Assistant National Executive Director for Strategic Planning and Public Policy. She began her work with unions in the mid-1980s as a rank-and-file activist and elected leader with The Office & Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). From the late 1980s to late 1990s, she held various posts at AFTRA, including Executive Director of the joint SAG/AFTRA San Francisco office, until she left to become Executive Director of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT). She returned to AFTRA in 2002.
Russum has served since 1996 as Executive Director of AFTRA’s Los Angeles office, the union’s largest local. Prior to that, he worked as an attorney at the Writers Guild of America, West, the Airline Pilots Association and the California Nurses Association.