TRAGEDY & HOPE: 2021 Letter to SAG-AFTRA Members
by Shaan Sharma, SAG-AFTRA LA Local Board Member
The opinions expressed herein are mine alone and do not represent the views or opinions of SAG-AFTRA, MembershipFirst, SOLIDARITY, or any other group or member.
First and foremost, I hope this letter finds you and yours safe and well. The pandemic is still with us so please allow me to offer my deepest condolences for any personal or professional losses suffered.
This is my third election-season letter to you, my beloved union brothers, sisters, and siblings.
I really struggled with what I wanted to write this time, because we’ve all been through so much these past two years. But the reality is that few of you will have the opportunity to serve in the Local or National boardrooms, or on committees, and the decisions made there affect your daily experience and prospects as a performer. So I am proceeding with writing what I feel you deserve to know, with the belief that these election letters are one of the few good and rare opportunities for me to share information, my insight, and my eye-witness account of our union’s operations, to help make sense of the situation, and so we can all find the best way forward.
As some of you might remember, four years ago I wrote my first election letter to you when I discovered that there were two warring political factions controlling SAG-AFTRA member leadership and crippling the proper functioning of our union. If you have not read that and wish to understand the full context for my journey from the beginning, click one of the links below:
By the election of 2019, I had gained two solid years of experience serving in Local and National union leadership & committees, and grassroots efforts, which lead to my writing a second letter to you, which was, let’s just call it “lengthy,” but I recorded it as an audio file so members could listen to it at their convenience, which apparently was useful. Thousands of members read or listened to it and shared it with others. Judging from the election results, that letter did make a meaningful impact on the outcome and on members, from whom I received hundreds of emails and messages of appreciation and support. To all who wrote to me, I appreciate it more than you know.
Unfortunately, there were negative consequences. The critical observations I shared made me a bigger target of political retribution, examples of which I’m going to share with you in this letter, and which you may also find disturbing. No matter how toxic and off-base you think our leadership culture might be, I promise you, it’s worse.
I understand it’s uncomfortable for those in the ruling regime to receive negative feedback or to listen to dissenting voices, but our personal and professional fortunes have been in their hands, and we have every right, and, I believe, a duty to hold them accountable. We need each other to point out where we’ve fallen short so the union can be more effective. No matter how hard we prepare, sometimes we’re just going to flub our lines.
At the end of the day, what we should all be focused on is identifying opportunities to improve and solving those problems together so we all stand the best chance of making a decent living doing what we love, and safely.
By the way, when I talk about the “ruling regime,” I’m specifically referring to the leaders of the political parties Unite for Strength (UFS) in the LA Local, United Screen Actors Nationwide (USAN) in the NY Local, and UnionStrong (US) in smaller Locals across the country. Leaders of that political regime have had total, majority control of the national boards of SAG, AFTRA, and SAG-AFTRA since 2009, and so are directly responsible for the state of our union.
Because of that, UFS/USAN/US party members often attack their political targets by gaslighting, lying, and resorting to character assassination, fear-mongering, and digging up tired, decades-old grudges and talking points. When they are responsible for the current state of our union, and they have no defense or argument, all they have left is to attack their opponent’s character.
But, it is so important to bear in mind that there are many wonderful members who run in elections with these parties, but are not the leaders of those groups and are not responsible for the bad behavior or actions of the party leaders or other party members. That’s why, in my communications, I address the actions of individuals whenever possible, not entire groups, and, even then, only in the context of their union behavior, not as human beings or artists.
And let me emphasize that point: I love and respect all our members and leaders and my door is always open to any who take issue with anything I write, say, or do, and I promise to engage in conversations and debates in good faith with my only objective being to come to an understanding together as colleagues that allows us to focus on the mission of the union, even if we disagree with each other’s opinions, strategies, or leadership styles.
In my 2019 letter, I described our broken LA election system, which allows celebrities to run, just to win seats, then immediately resign and give their position to their unelected or unelectable political party members. I also detailed 14 other problems and suggested solutions. Then I shared a list of current and future programs that I and others are working on to help us with our quality of life as performers, our training, finding work, and building essential personal and professional relationships. Finally I included a list of who I was voting for and why, because I thought you might find it useful to get at least one informed point of view when making your voting decisions. If you have not yet read or listened to it, I highly recommend it, and you can do so by clicking one of the following links:
Then, last April, I put out a third letter, my “Update for SAG-AFTRA Members,” to inform our members when President Carteris used the pandemic as an excuse to unnecessarily suspend the National Board and consolidate power into her National Executive Committee that excludes representation from 12 of our 25 Locals, shut down all our Locals’ boards, committees, and programming, preventing us from doing anything in our official capacities to help and serve our members, and began running our union effectively as a dictator, under what they called the “Resource Conservation Plan,” allowing her to decide what union activity is “necessary and essential,” which, to no one’s surprise, she used to promote only herself and her political allies to members, a captive audience, throughout the past year and a half.
Also in that update letter, I shared the aftermath of the 2019 election results, in which UFS was removed from the majority, and thus control, of the LA Local boardroom for the first time in 12 years, and where, in retaliation, we saw the ruling regime, which still controls the national board, install all the people I warned you about, whom you didn’t elect, into top positions of power anyway, remove qualified political opponents from key national committees, and punish and suppress the LA Local by blocking programming, and denying us space on the 2nd floor of our HQ building for our staff and our Local’s activities, including taking away our beautiful, newly-constructed Conservatory classroom and self-taping studio, all before quarantine.
We also saw Gabrielle deny a petition signed by over 11,000 people pleading for dues relief such as waiving or lowering dues, opting instead to give members the option to kick the can down the road and pay their full dues later in two installments.
I ended that letter by providing a list of every member of the National Board, who’s on the National Executive Committee, and how to contact them. You can read or listen to that letter here:
Last July, I sent out my fourth and most recent communication: a statement about why I was voting “No” on the 2020 TV/Theatrical Contract, including the fact that the negotiating team came back with only half of one of four key objectives that we had been promised would be accomplished. Instead, they actually gave away income that over 35,000 members were counting on to help them survive the industry shutdown due to the pandemic; a negotiation so bungled and a contract so bad that, for the first time ever, two Local Boards, LA and New Orleans, representing the majority of our union’s members, voted against it. Even “Times Up” came out publicly against it.
I also exposed the ruling regime’s active voter suppression efforts, including initially only putting a “Vote Yes” button on the SAG-AFTRA website until they were confronted, and only including “Vote Yes” links in the multiple emails we received, hundreds of thousands of dollars in postcards and robocalls after just laying off a third of our staff, the most awkward interview between President Carteris and Alec Baldwin you’ve ever seen, and cyberbullying members online for sharing factual information and asking questions, leading to the temporary resignation of Cort Hessler, a non-partisan and highly respected national committee chair, who publicly posted:
“After seeing the suppression on education about this new contract by National Board Members and Local Presidents. (The people who we need to trust) I have resigned as The Chair of the National Stunt and Safety Committee. I cannot work alongside these people and just be okay with it. Good luck to all of you in getting the information you need.”
You can read or listen to that statement here:
So much has happened in the year since that letter, but still more information has come to light about those events that are crucial for you to know.
But before I dive into all that, I want to start with the most important and personally fulfilling thing I have ever shared with you. If there’s one thing I want you to read and take away from this, it’s the first part below. I feel like the past five years of my union service were all an education in preparation for this, and I can finally start making the kind of empowering, foundational, systemic impact on our union that I’ve always hoped to make.
Part I — SOLIDARITY & UNION LITERACY
In April of 2018, I rented out the Santa Monica Playhouse for an evening and invited over a hundred members who had personally contacted me about wanting to volunteer at the Conservatory, for the LA Local, or on some of my own union projects. I put a quick website together at solidarity.la and presented attendees with a “Union Volunteerism: menu of options.”
We put teams together that made great progress, only halted by the shutdown of our Local:
- we built a community of over a hundred producing assistants for our Conservatory classes to better support our teachers and create a more professional environment,
- created a free self-taping program that served hundreds of members,
- brought in dozens of high profile guest instructors,
- set up member-run social media accounts (@laconservatory) and a website for the LA Conservatory (losangelesconservatory.com) to better serve and connect our 3,000 Conservatory members,
- started laying the foundation for our own SAG-AFTRA film festival & expo,
- established a first-ever Table Reads Subcommittee of the LA Local to produce table reads with the WGA, The Black List, Coverfly, and others,
- set up a workgroup to host our own, free agent, manager, and casting director showcases, kicking things off with a monologue-coaching workshop in the winter of 2019 with a final performance attended by DGA, WGA, and CSA members,
- created a list of every self-taping studio in town and were about to begin negotiating union member discounts,
- and started laying the groundwork for a union service directory to help people hire our members in their side hustles.
Then in the spring of 2019, former LA President and National Secretary-Treasurer, Jane Austin, and Stunt Coordinator TJ White, and I discussed creating a new grassroots union community focused on mentoring new, non-partisan, knowledgeable member leaders to help us move past our political divisions. I called a meeting with about 40 members that May, and we started meeting every Wednesday evening in each other’s homes where we quickly realized that, first, we needed to educate ourselves before we ever attempted to educate others.
And so, SOLIDARITY was born.
We started by just reading the new Netflix Agreement together, line-by-line, and making sure we understood what we were reading. Then we moved on to reading our National Constitution. We started interviewing union leaders of every member category, from every Local that would talk to us, leaders from sister unions, or other important industry partners. We started reading our other contracts, and learning about our unions’ history.
With every meeting we felt more and more empowered because we actually started to understand our union, put its issues in context, and more clearly see its potential.
Then, during the TV/Theatrical Contract voting period last July, Nitasha Bhambree, an exemplary National Board member in the NY Local, created this very simple PDF deck to understand the proposed contract and see how it compared to the Netflix Agreement or what our sister unions got. It’s completely non-political and made things so clear and easy to understand that it was an inspiration. So, a few weeks later, when Joely Fisher asked me to hop on a Zoom and educate some of her friends on how our union’s leadership works, and what it entails, I put together a 15-slide deck of my own to make it fun, visual, and easy to understand.
Then I kept adding in more and more of the information I’d learned. I started reaching out to members, leaders, and staff for help on sections, and at the beginning of this year, SOLIDARITY put out our first-ever, grassroots, unofficial SAG-AFTRA Union Literacy Guide (ULG for short) and launched SOLIDARITY.us, a companion website with all the ULG info plus more. Both are purely educational, completely nonpolitical, and verified by SAG-AFTRA staff for accuracy.
The Union Literacy Guide is everything we all wish we had been taught before and after joining the union; the member orientation we always should have had. It covers what our union is, its governance and structure, constitutions, contracts, Locals, member categories, benefits of membership, support companies, and our sister unions, guilds, & associations.
It’s the proudest moment of my union service to share it with you. I hope you will find it useful:
SOLIDARITY meetings are open to the public on Zoom every Wednesday night at 6:30pm PT. We strictly prohibit politically divisive talk and personal attacks. It’s meant to be a respectful and unifying space for everyone to learn about our union.
But it doesn’t stop there. Over the past year, other members in SOLIDARITY have been inspired to create additional, must-see, game-changing resources, including these two:
CBA Comparison spreadsheet
Made by LA member Charlie Bodin, who I’m convinced will forever change our union for the better. He’s taken all the language from our main theatrical contract, the Codified Basic Agreement, or CBA, and put it into a well-organized spreadsheet, and compared the current contract language to every previous version going back to 1937 clause-by-clause.
You can literally go back in time and see the sections evolve from negotiation to negotiation. It’s a miracle. It’s so much work. He’s still working on it. He had to buy pre-internet, old paper copies of our contracts online and then type in every word by hand. And he’s a husband, a father of two, and worked more as an actor than anyone else I know during pre-vaccine COVID. And it’s the only place you can see the current terms without having to read the 2014 CBA, the 2017 MOA, and the 2020 MOA, and reconcile all the language yourself.
Marvel at it. Read through it, and please, share it with others; including directors, producers, and casting. Thanks to Charlie, I’ve made close to $10,000 more this last year alone, now that I know what’s in our contract and what we are entitled to.
Low Budget Agreement Comparisons spreadsheet
Next, Missouri Valley Local Board member Shelley Waggener created this spreadsheet that opens with a simple chart that shows all six of our low budget contracts compared side-by-side, and then has each contract on a separate tabbed sheet with the contract language in one column, and what it means in plain english next to it.
It’s amazing. I used it last week, talking with a producer who was hesitant to make her low budget films union, thinking it would be too expensive. When she saw Shelley’s chart and spreadsheet, she sounded so excited and relieved that she could afford to work with union actors. A bunch of you will have Shelley to thank for your jobs on those films soon.
Everyone producing low-budget union films, or trying to flip nonunion low-budget film projects to go union, should have that spreadsheet at the ready.
The United Association for Labor Education states in a recent study that high-quality member orientations are essential for the short and long-term health of a union, because educated members feel more empowered, are more engaged, more active in union service, and more loyal to the cause.
A union’s power and effectiveness depends on empowered and knowledgeable members.
We now have the tools to educate ourselves and reclaim our power. Please use them.
And, if you want to fall back in love with our union and why it exists and be reminded about its potential, you must watch the beautifully-made 2008 SAG Foundation documentary on the history of the Screen Actors Guild, called “Behind the Masks.” It lay dormant for more than a decade, unavailable and unseen until Charlie Bodin contacted the director, William Gazecki, who made it available for free online at behindthemasks.info.
You’ll be reinvigorated for the fight to reform our union and for our value as performers.
Part II — Political Persecution: A Culture of Fear, Intimidation, & Retaliation
So here’s the thing. It’s a free country. People have every right to call you names and be mean or unfair to you. It’s sadly part of life and of politics. So I’m not sharing the following from a place of upset or anger. I feel very supported and encouraged by our members and union service has, and continues to, change my life for the better in ways I could have never imagined.
However I am very, deeply concerned for the health of our union because of the way many of our union leaders behave and treat each other. It may not be illegal for our union to have a mean, oppressive, and immature leadership culture, but that doesn’t mean we have to settle for one. We can choose to elect leaders who disagree, and debate, and challenge each other with respect, instead of trying to destroy each other.
In order for any organization to function properly, voices of dissent or critique are necessary, and good leaders welcome and value it, so the organization can see if it needs to correct itself. Those who value their own power and control over the proper functioning of an organization do not have an incentive to look for their errors, or worse, may try to hide them to save face, since they are responsible for the status quo, and it’s working for them, because they’re in power. But they may give in to the temptation to try to silence or eliminate their critics, to protect their reputation and maintain power.
The problem is, if you try to attack, intimidate, or silence voices of dissent or critique, instead of listening to their concerns and addressing them, you risk either creating a chilling effect on speech, where people are afraid to speak up, or if they are not effectively intimidated into submission, you radicalize dissenters, who will find other ways to get their concerns addressed, usually with louder, or more creative, or more forceful means.
Retaliation against dissenting voices is even more of an issue in our industry and our union because of the nature of our business and the constant power differentials involved. Performers, our members, are constantly living in fear and a state of powerlessness. Hence, we are so exploitable. We are constantly pressured to compromise our safety, our pay, our self-respect, and our integrity in the pursuit of a successful career. Many cave and do compromise.
Performers are afraid to speak up in defense of themselves and others everywhere: in acting classes, in auditions, on sets, in meetings with agents, managers, directors, showrunners, writers, producers, casting professionals, and other industry professionals. No performer wants to do anything that could cost them work and jeopardize their dreams.
The one place; the first and foremost place where our members must feel safe speaking up is within our own union. We own this union. This is our house. It exists to empower us. If we can’t feel safe to speak up in our own union, it’s no wonder we feel so powerless everywhere else.
And my personal experience is that the current ruling regime treats anyone who dares to speak up and question or criticize anything with contempt, aggression, exclusion, and retaliation.
It’s how I’ve been treated, constantly. I never shared it with you in previous letters because I’m okay, and didn’t want to distract from the important issues and points I was making. But it has become clear to me that this mean, toxic, oppressive culture that I, and many others, have experienced is itself an important issue that must be addressed.
I constantly get questions from members asking if I’m afraid that speaking up against union leadership will hurt my career. I tell them no, I’m not afraid, but that’s because of three reasons:
- I feel so protected, appreciated, and supported by the members of our Local for my work.
- I’m not hired by my fellow SAG-AFTRA members. I’m hired as an actor by DGA and WGA members, and called in for auditions by CSA, CCDA, and Teamsters casting directors.
- I live and work in Los Angeles, where there are thousands of directors, producers, and casting directors to work with.
However, most members aren’t as established in their union leadership positions and careers. They are easier to retaliate against.
And many of our members are in categories where fellow SAG-AFTRA members play a key role in getting them hired; stunt performers by stunt coordinators, dancers by choreographers, singers by vocal contractors, and voice actors who do looping by ADR coordinators.
And finally, members in smaller markets, where there are only a few casting directors, directors, and producers that could hire them, rightly have more to fear that someone could harm their career prospects in retaliation for making waves.
So for them, the vast majority of our members, it’s even more important that we establish a leadership culture that actively welcomes and respects feedback, positive or negative. In order to reclaim our power as performers in the industry at large, we must establish a culture of safety and anti-retaliation within SAG-AFTRA, where no one would dare to try to silence or punish voices of dissent.
So, for that reason I want to share just a few eye-opening examples of what I’ve experienced over the past three years, knowing full well that many others have experienced far worse forms of persecution and retaliation.
2018 — my first year in leadership after running on the M1 slate in the 2017 election
LA President Jane Austin and our LA Executive Director informed me that President Gabrielle Carteris didn’t want them to allow me to teach any classes or do my large-scale talks at SAG-AFTRA HQ. They pushed back because my events were well-received and highly requested by our members, they clarified that there was nothing political in the content of my talks, and invited Gabrielle to attend one and see for herself, which she never did. Gabrielle insisted that they book me less frequently at a minimum and that none of the listings for my events use my name or show my photo.
When texting with a senior staff member about this, I wrote, “She just didn’t want to promote me in any way, even if it was valuable for the members.” They responded, “Correct. None of us ever imagined that leadership could be so arrogant, exclusive, and corrupt.”
Gabrielle denied the Nevada Local President’s request to have me come teach there.
It was also brought to my attention by members and staff, in confidence, that they were being instructed to find something to bring me up on charges; our union’s disciplinary process that can lead to fines and expulsion.
Gabrielle prevented me from doing more of my well-received “Commercial Acting” webinars I did for the Locals outside of LA as part of the Commercials Recapture Initiative (CORI).
2019 — the year I put out my 2nd election letter critical of our local and national leadership
UFS put up a page on their website, unsigned, calling me a race-baiter, a hypocrite, slanderous, a bully, a flake, a conspiracy theorist, and a liar, and then put out ads on Facebook directing people to it.
In a private Facebook Group called “union strong COL,” for “Committee of Locals,” an official union group of leaders from all our Locals, and in front of a hundred members in that FB group, posts made by Local and National UFS/USAN/US leaders threatened, mocked, and cyber bullied myself and others. It really has to be seen to be believed:
After the election, long-time UFS LA Board member and current LA Board candidate Parvesh Cheena sent me this email, in which he calls me a “traitor to my race” and a “brown lackey” of MembershipFirst.
At the 2019 SAG-AFTRA Convention, Seattle Local President Rik Deskin submitted a resolution banning anyone who “regularly works as a casting professional” from serving in SAG-AFTRA leadership, which the convention delegates approve. (This will come back in 2021)
April 8th: SOLIDARITY began a second wave of inviting members and leaders from around the country to come and educate us about what it’s like living and working in their Locals, as well as to just talk. We were all forced to “stay home and stay safe.” There were no productions happening. Our goal was for actors from around the country to just connect. People were yearning for human connection. And so, Charlie Bodin was excited to do the initial outreach.
At that same time in the “union strong COL” FB group, national and local leaders start mocking Charlie’s efforts to reach out, calling it a potential scam, and celebrate rejecting his invitations. It’s remarkable that union leaders would refuse outreach efforts by members to learn, and instead celebrate shutting down friendly and respectful outreach and communication.
Charlie’s invitation text is shared:
“Hey Scott! I have a small SAG-AFTRA educational group here in LA that would love to video chat with you if you’re available anytime. We are trying to educate ourselves about all the locals: their successes, their struggles, political structure, everything/anything Hawaii Local. We want to listen and we want to learn. Interested in chatting?”
Scott Rogers, Hawaii National Board Member replies, calling SOLIDARITY “some political BS group.” And writes in another reply to Charlie:
“Sorry but I have no need to share this kind of info with members of other Locals for purposes I have neither the time, ability nor the desire to verify.”
Scott is currently the Co-Chair of the National Conservatory Committee, which exists to educate our members in all our Locals, FYI.
Nashville President Mike Montgomery calls it:
“”God Lord, worse book club EVER! ‘Don’t miss Monday, we’ll be discussing travel provisions of the Modified Low and meal penalties under the Co-Ed. We gone get freaky.’”
I could never have imagined a union Local President would mock members educating themselves about their contracts and union.
Ilyssa Fradin, Chicago National Board Member and former National Vice President — Mid-sized Locals says:
“I’ve been checking charlie’s page and if i see a chgo board member accepted his friend request i reach out and they then block him.”
Basically, policing her board and making them block Charlie. She then says:
“he’s going about it the wrong way” because, “he’s attached himself to shaan.”
Pamela Weaver, Houston-Austin National Board Member posts that their Local President, Mykle McCoslin made an announcement to the boards of both the Houstin-Austin, and the Dallas-Ft Worth Locals warning them about Charlie’s outreach.
Then Harold Phillips, Portland Local Vice President, posts one of my outreach messages to him to the group:
“Hi Harold! I hope this message finds you and yours well, brother. Wanted to see if you were free tonight at 7:30pm or any other time that works for you, to meet with me and an amazing handful of members and educate us about the Portland Local. We’re an educational group that’s spent the last year learning about our constitutions, contracts, member categories, and now each of our 25 Locals. I can send you the Zoom link if tonight works. Also was going to reach out to ___ and ___, unless you want to. This group is non-political and purely about increasing union literacy and understanding amongst our Locals. Would absolutely love to learn from you.”
Ilyssa responds and gives him permission:
“you can totally join. maybe you’ll be able to learn what’s up.”
To which he responds:
“”Oh no — I’m not going anywhere near this… besides, I’ve got other things happening tonight (or any other time…)”
Again, celebrating shutting down cross-Local education, member to member.
“I also think we need to look at our local constitutions and make sure that residency requirements are sound and that NB alt policy is solid.”
(In 2021, the Chicago Local would increase its residency requirement from one to two years before a Local member would be eligible to serve in leadership.)
April 28th: Ilyssa posts about my April “Update Letter to SAG-AFTRA Members,” calling it “misinformation,” “full of lies,” and “reckless.” Here begins an exchange threatening to bring me and others up on charges of “conduct unbecoming” a member.
Scott Rogers threatens Hawaii Local President David Farmer:
“I’m furious at my Local pres. if he shared ANY confidential info with Shaan I will bring him up on charges of conduct unbecoming!”
Nashville Local President says, regarding my letter:
“His opinion is flirting with conduct unbecoming.”
To which Ilyssa responds:
“i say he’s abused and raped it”
Seattle National Board Member Abby Dylan posts:
“Can we bring him up on charges?”
Mel MacKaron, New Mexico National Board Member:
“I’d support it. He’s going beyond freedom of speech to libel territory.”
May 19th: An exchange between members about blocking and rejecting my outreach friend requests on FB. Debra Nelson, Atlanta National Board Member posts, “Reject the troll!”
April 30th: Scott Rogers emails David Farmer: “PLEASE stop giving Shaan Sharma a platform for his ugly lies…He’s so bad for Hawai’i and for our union.”
David replies: “I just hope, perhaps naively, that everyone can stop the personal attacks and zero in on issues.”
Scott: “The personal attacks come from their side. If you think I’m unfairly attacking him then you have no idea who you are befriending. No idea at all. David, you know me. I’m telling you this guy is really bad news…He’s going to hurt Hawai’i Local. And you’re giving him the platform to do it…I give you my word David, he’s really bad news.”
Jan 22nd: FB message exchange with Scott Rogers:
Me: “As much as you may disagree with me, and I’ve heard what you’ve said and written about me…”
Scott: “When you say that you heard what I’ve said and written about you, I have no idea what you are talking about. I barely know you at all. I’ve spoken to you once that I recall and I don’t believe I have ever written or spoken about you…”
Me: “Brother…I have dear friends across this union…They send me screenshots…”
Scott: “And as I said, I don’t write or talk about you.”
Me: “Scott, brother, I have proof that I can show you that you do…”
Scott: “If I ever did, I don’t remember it. So you really couldn’t have very much proof of anything to do with me. Perhaps you just THINK everyone likes to talk about you? Brother.”
Feb 28th: Seattle Local President Rik Deskin sends an email to the Presidents of 23 out of our 25 Locals, specifically targeting me by name, mentioning they met and discussed me in 2020, and expresses concern that they will actually face opposition in the upcoming elections. Many of them ran unopposed and won their positions by default.
April 17th: At the National Board Meeting, the National Board took up Rik Deskin’s 2019 Convention resolution and approved banning all casting professionals from serving in union leadership, specifically adding “session director” to the list of banned professions. SAG-AFTRA omitted this board action from its official press release on April 18th about the meeting, but Deadline covered it. (Some members know me from my work as one of the busiest commercial casting session directors in LA between 2007–2018.)
Also at that national board meeting, changes to Local Constitutions were passed in four Locals across the country making it more difficult for members to run for leadership positions, including increasing the time spent in a Local before being eligible, residency requirements only in Locals where an political opponent did not live in the Local, and elimination of requirements to inform members about upcoming elections and open positions.
Today, August 3rd: Michele Proude, New England Local, National Vice President — Mid-size Locals posts this on FB accusing Charlie and I of being deceptive about the nature of SOLIDARITY and alleging it is political. She’s never once attended one of our meetings.
We all know that our union is off-course. Almost all of our members are suffering. From my first letter back in 2017, I recognized that the political infighting was crippling our union, but I didn’t know then how political everything in our union had become. Not people with different ideas having normal friction on the path to compromise, but warring gangs in a zero-sum, take no prisoners, war over turf.
One of the witnesses to this, who’s become the brother I never had, is the great Sean Astin, son of former SAG President Patty Duke, who wanted me to include this from him, “I think it’s outrageous that somebody who’s devoted as much time, energy, effort, and skill and passion and compassion and wisdom to the union as Shaan has to be treated in such a manner, to be harangued, and forced to defend his character against such unreasonable attacks. Everybody should have to validate what they’re doing when they’re operating in an influential way, and be subject to criticism, but this is just not okay.”
But I also think that good people get swept up in mob mentality, and that it’s really easy to rush to judgment, especially when friends and colleagues give you their opinion about someone. Whenever I talk with fellow union members or leaders, or invite someone into service, I always tell them to not inherit my bias or baggage with anyone, because they might be the bridge that brings us all together. You know? Like a union.
None of the leaders in any of the exchanges above ever reached out to Charlie about his outreach, or to me to discuss their concerns, or to try to understand why I speak out like I do. But I will always welcome communication from fellow union leaders so we can find a way to work together.
Part III — My Report on the Last Two Years
The 2020 TV/Theatrical Negotiation, Minority Report, and Impact on Voter Turnout
However controversial an opinion it may be, I believe our last TV/Theatrical contract negotiation with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP, may have been compromised. So, let me lay it all out for your consideration:
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND ELECTION INTERFERENCE
BH90210, is a reboot of the 90’s TV show Gabrielle Carteris is known for, Beverly Hills, 90210.
It was ordered by FOX, an AMPTP member, in late February 2019, but as a surprise 6-episode short order, instead of the more traditional order of 13 or 22 episodes. Both Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling, who had been spearheading the project, stated they did not know about the shortened episode order until Fox formally announced the series.
According to Spelling, the creative team’s intention was to do a continuing series, but FOX opted for a limited episodic order so they could expedite production for a summer debut.
The show was shot in Canada and in production over June and July.
Gabrielle was employed during that time by FOX as a performer and credited as an Executive Producer. She was reportedly paid $420,000 for the six episodes, or $70,000 an episode.
(To prevent the perception or possibility of a conflict of interest, former President Patty Duke resigned when she became a producer. We should consider a new union rule going forward: that union officers or negotiating committee members must disclose the terms of any deals they have with any employers affected by our contract negotiations.)
At the July national board meeting, Gabrielle broke with established practice and seated the 2020 TV/Theatrical Contract negotiating committee that would negotiate against the AMPTP a year early, with herself as the Chair.
She gave two reasons for doing so:
- That the extra time would be used to prepare for the negotiations.
Note: This didn’t happen. The negotiating committee met once, right after W&Ws to decide on the negotiating package and then didn’t meet again for 7 months, right before opening negotiations with the AMPTP in April 2020.)
2. That the early seating gave us the opportunity to negotiate first, ahead of the DGA and WGA, instead of last, to avoid being stuck with the terms of their deals, referred to as “pattern bargaining,” where the AMPTP feels if it’s good enough for the DGA, and the WGA, it should be good enough for SAG-AFTRA.
Going first would contradict the first reason, of having more time to prepare, and we didn’t go first, or second. We went last as usual.
But it’s unwise to go first for another big reason: we cannot legally strike until the contract expires. If we had negotiated early and came to an impasse, it would put us in a worst case scenario: the AMPTP would know our playbook and have months to prepare to defeat our coming strike.
The more likely reason she seated the negotiating committee that early was to do it before the upcoming election in which she was running for re-election, so that even if she lost the Presidency, she would retain control over the negotiating committee and the negotiation as long as she and her ruling regime had majority control in the national boardroom, which they did, and have, since 2009. Only another majority vote of the national board can change a committee once it has been seated, and it was unlikely the upcoming elections would change the political majority in the national boardroom.
As I wrote in my statement on why I was voting no on the TV/Theatrical contract, I was present at a backroom meeting where Gabrielle met with myself and MembershipFirst board members telling us she was going seat the negotiating committee early, and limit the TV/Theatrical W&Ws, the meetings where members can come and give their suggestions for the next negotiation, from six weeks down to just one week, because she and David White, our National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, had already decided on the four issues they were going to fight and die on the hill for, those being:
- Increasing the employer pension & health contribution caps.
- Eliminate “crediting:” the advanced payment of residuals in initial compensation.
- Increase streaming new media residuals for AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) and SVOD (subscription video on demand).
- Eliminate unfair Options & Exclusivity contracts preventing members from working.
Keep those four issues in mind.
Our union elections began on August 2nd. BH90210 premiered less than a week later on August 7th and ended September 11th, just after our union elections ended. Then in November, Fox abruptly canceled the series, saying, “We always kind of envisioned it as…a short-term event…”
In the show, Gabrielle plays a fictionalized version of herself, as President of the “Actors Guild of America,” answering the phone in one scene with the lines, “Gabrielle here…Impartial? Of course I can be impartial. That’s my duty as President of the Actors Guild of America. I gotta protect actors when they make a complaint. What’s going on?”
Employers are prohibited from interfering in our union’s elections by contributing anything of value to candidates, but somehow AMPTP employer FOX:
hired our union President for almost half a million dollars,
who seated the committee that would negotiate against them while on their payroll,
they shortened the season in a rush to produce and launch the show,
in which Gabrielle plays a version of herself,
including scenes that are indistinguishable from ads for her active re-election campaign,
aired it just for the month of our elections,
and then immediately cancelled it after she won.
Fast forward to the negotiations, beginning in April 2020, almost six weeks after we had all gone into lockdown because of COVID-19. The negotiating committee did not re-evaluate the negotiation proposals it had chosen back in August of 2019, and did not take the impact of the pandemic or of a potentially extended shutdown into consideration before opening negotiations.
The negotiating committee came back with a deal that failed to achieve all four main objectives:
- no raising of the pension and health contribution caps,
- no limits on advanced payment of residuals,
- no elimination of unfair options & exclusivity contracts,
- and no gains in AVOD.
They did come back with an increase in SVOD residuals, but gave away broadcast syndication residuals by moving from a fixed residual, based on replays, to a percentage of Distributors Gross Receipts, a flat fee based on the amount the owner licenses the program to someone else.
The new formula would mean a 40–90% reduction in residual income affecting 35,000 performers; particularly unwise to have done so at the beginning of what was foreseen could be a prolonged shutdown of our industry, making existing programs all the more valuable for networks and distribution platforms hungry for content but unable to produce new programs.
Then there was the inexplicable use of negotiating capital on nudity and intimate work protections that fell so short of expectations that Times Up itself came out against the contract; something that shouldn’t even have been a subject of negotiation, but simply agreed to as clearly in the best interests of both employers and performers.
But who can argue that even small achievements in protections isn’t a good thing? So it was trumpeted by the ruling regime as a major win to cover their disastrous, but potentially intentional, failure to achieve our other objectives.
THE MINORITY REPORT & IMPACT ON VOTER TURNOUT
A few nights before the National Board meeting where the terms of the deal were going to be presented, a few of us mused if we might be able to get the national board to agree to let us put out a minority report with the contract for the first time in SAG-AFTRA history.
A minority report is when the national board members that oppose a contract are given an official opportunity and space to explain why in the contract referendum booklet containing the terms of the new deal that we get. There wasn’t one for the 2014 or 2017 TV/Theatrical contract votes.
We started activating our networks to see if we could get a few other national board members around the country to support one this time, who may be sympathetic to the fairness argument and that members deserve to hear both sides of this important issue. We suspect Gabrielle caught wind of it.
We brought our proposal to the national board meeting for our version of a minority report, but Gabrielle had a watered-down version of her own to present. Perhaps she recognized that since a third of the board had voted against the contract, members would want to know why, and that it would be hard to defend excluding a minority report to those more open minded in their own ranks.
Gabrielle presented her proposal: 500 words, no legal staff vetting, due in 24 hours, and the ruling regime could rebut the minority report. We asked for 1,000 words, and for it to be vetted by our legal staff for accuracy so the ruling regime couldn’t later claim we were spreading misinformation. The national board rejected our requests, but in what I’m sure they thought was an act of magnanimity, voted to approve Gabrielle’s proposal, and by a greater margin than had approved the contract itself.
Compromised as it was, we now had a minority report.
Within 24 hours we threw together the minority report that’s in the 2020 referendum booklet, and within 48 hours, a website, dissentingopinion2020.com, going into further detail about our concerns. It was the beginning of a month-long campaign to educate members about the pros and cons of the contract, so they had the information to properly consider the deal in front of them and decide how to vote on it for themselves. We hosted two contract Town Halls on Zoom, attended by hundreds of members, did news, radio, and podcast interviews, created and shared videos, wrote and published articles and statements, and so much more.
The ruling regime unleashed an unprecedented effort to force a yes vote, everything I wrote earlier and covered in my VoteNO statement, but also: knowingly false statements in scripted propaganda videos, like “Let’s be real. This contract was always about streaming residuals.” Or “health plan gets stronger”), and, as expected, this post on their website attempting to discredit our work for not having been vetted by our legal staff: “Want Real Facts Vetted by Attorneys?”
But the most disturbing thing Gabrielle did is go to the press on July 17th, while the contract vote was still taking place and say this:
“Our leverage comes from the ability to strike…would we really get 90% of our membership who are out of work for months to agree to strike when work does come back? Are they in a position to walk out? No. There is no better deal in a supposed round two.”
- Should a union President ever publicly state to the industry that our members do not have the will to fight for better terms?
- Does that sound like an Executive Producer who was paid almost a half million dollars the year before by a top AMPTP network that may have helped her win re-election?
We heard from members that reading that in the press compelled them to vote yes because there was no point sending our negotiating committee back to the table if the union President had already given up.
In the end, the contract passed, but something amazing happened as well.
In 2014, the vote turnout for that TV/Theatrical contract was 16%, or about 21,000 out of 137,000 eligible voters. In 2017, the turnout actually went down to 15.33%, about 21,000 of 140,000 eligible voters.
This time, because there was an actual debate, with members all across the country educating themselves, discussing the contract points, and weighing the pros and cons, vote turnout exploded up to 27.15%, or 39,000 of 145,000 members voting, the highest turnout for any membership-wide union vote, contract or election, in SAG-AFTRA history.
That’s what happens when you treat members like adults and educate them instead of just telling them how to vote and bombarding them with propaganda.
But, when I look back over all the events surrounding the last contract negotiation, before, during, and after negotiations, I can’t help feeling that when you add it all up; the unusual and poor strategic decisions made, departures from standard practice, clear conflicts of interest, election interference by a top AMPTP network, bungled negotiations, gaslighting, unkind and unfair behavior, propaganda, voter suppression, and insane pressure put on us to vote yes, the poor results of the 2020 TV/Theatrical contract negotiation was not an accident.
And Gabrielle choosing not to run for re-election as President this time is telling. But she is running for the national board, and so are many members of the ruling regime nationwide that enabled her or were complicit.
It’s possible they’ll get away with any wrongdoing by bringing in new celebrity candidates who aren’t connected to these events since they have never served in any union capacity before, but the apparatus behind them will be the same. Consider that when voting.
But, tragically, the story doesn’t end there, as many of you know all too well:
The Thursday Night Massacre: Unfair and Unnecessary Changes to the Health Plan
Just three weeks after members voted to approve the TV/Theatrical contract the ruling regime touted as “historic,” “transformative,” and “making our health plan even stronger,” members received an email on Thursday evening, August 12th 2020, an event some members now refer to as “The Thursday Night Massacre,” notifying us of changes being made to the health plan that would cause almost 12,000 members, most of them seniors, to lose their SAG-AFTRA health insurance, including:
- eliminating Plan II,
- raising the qualifying threshold to $25,950, an $8,000, or 45% increase from the 2020 Plan II qualifying threshold of $18,040,
- Increasing qualifying days from 86 to 100,
- raising premiums,
- requiring spouses to switch to their employer’s health plans if available, as their primary plan,
- eliminating qualifying with age and service,
- and eliminating earned lifetime secondary senior coverage.
But worst of all was that earnings from residuals would no longer be counted towards qualifying for SAG-AFTRA healthcare for any performers over 65 years of age who were taking their pension. They would need to qualify for the new, higher threshold from session fees alone. And since federal law requires people over 70 ½ years of age to take a pension if they qualify for it, residuals will never count towards qualifying for them.
They essentially made members between 65 and 70 ½ years old have to choose between taking their pension or qualifying for healthcare. It’s so disrespectful. Members like former SAG President Ed Asner gave up all his pre-1960s residuals to establish our health plan, and now at 91 years old, he was kicked off of it. What does a member have to achieve for our union to honor its promises to them and reward their decades of loyalty with protection and care?
Those older members would still pay higher dues and taxes based on their residuals income. Employers would still make pension and health contributions to the plans based on their residuals income, but those residuals would no longer help them qualify for coverage. To many of them, it felt like age discrimination, so a lawsuit was filed against the health plan.
It was, and still is, devastating. Members were already going to lose healthcare because of the industry shutdown from COVID, but now the plan was making it much harder to qualify as well, right in the middle of the greatest health emergency the world has seen in a hundred years.
Within 48 hours of “The Thursday Night Massacre,” our LA Local President Pat Richardson, Vice Presidents Frances Fisher and David Jolliffe, more than a dozen LA Local board members, and I put together a Healthcare Zoom Town Hall to hear the reactions from our members. Over 500 members from all across the country were on the Zoom which lasted 8 hours, until everyone that wanted to speak was heard. Understandably, there was anger, and tears, and feelings of betrayal, but most of all a demand for action.
So we took all the suggestions from our members and came back to them a week later for a second Healthcare Town Hall that lasted 7 hours with over 400 members to present three ways to fight to restore our health plan and gather more member feedback:
- Legal Options — through lawsuits and injunctions, but those are not quick fixes.
- Public Pressure — member feedback, press, etc.
- Member Education — making sure members know how the health plan works, how we got here, and how we can get it back. Not an immediate fix but perhaps faster than lawsuits.
We then put together a website to educate members and post updates about progress in the fight, called SOSHealthPlan.com, and this must-see, incredible video featuring union leaders and Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Sheen, Lea Thompson, Mark Hamill, Amy Schumer, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Clancy Brown, among many others.
But what’s so unacceptable about the whole thing is that the changes to the Health Plan were completely foreseen, avoidable, and unnecessary.
From a Variety article on March 13th, 2012:
Robert Carlson, a trustee of the pension and health plans for the past seven years, is disputing SAG’s contention that merging the SAG and AFTRA plans will be beneficial and warned that doing so would create a “staggering” burden. Carlson asserted that if the plans were to be merged, they would then be required to pay out more benefits without accruing additional income.
“This is a staggering financial burden which the plans cannot endure without either lowering benefits, increasing the qualification threshold or infusing additional funding into the plan.”
The health plans were finally merged in 2017, and just a year later were showing losses of almost $50 million a year, according to plan webinars hosted by SAG-AFTRA about the health plan changes. As a result, Health Plan Trustees and former SAG Presidents Barry Gordon and Richard Masur told us that changes had been in the works for 2 years.
In the two prior years we had negotiated three major contracts: the 2019 Commercials Contract, the 2019 Netflix Agreement, and the 2020 TV/Theatrical Contract. All three were negotiated by executive staff, including David White (National Executive Director at the time) and Ray Rodriguez (our Chief Contracts Officer). Both were trustees of the plan and knew the dire situation the plan was in.
And yet, neither our national board nor our negotiating committee members were ever told either by them or other negotiating committee members who are health plan trustees, that the health plan was severely underfunded, necessitating extreme restructuring, so that our members could take preventative action, including changing our negotiating strategy, proposals, and priorities, such as increasing the employer pension and health contribution caps.
It is a remarkable conflict of interest for trustees of the Health Plan, who are bound by confidentiality to the plan, to serve as negotiators for the union, where they cannot share crucial information about the state of our benefit plans that are funded directly by contract negotiations.
Their conflict of interest directly resulted in our members and our negotiating committees being misinformed about the state of the plan and prevented us from taking action to save our healthcare.
We didn’t even need to make these changes. In those health plan webinars, CEO Michael Estrada also stated that at the current rate of loss, they had reserves to last until 2024. Before then, we will have renegotiated all our major contracts, in which we could have fought to protect the health plan as it was. Now we’ll be fighting to get what we lost back, in addition to improving what we had.
But here are a few other things you need to know:
UNION HEALTH PLAN TRUSTEES WERE ALL APPOINTED BY THE RULING REGIME
By now, many of you know that the benefit plans are separate entities, but managed by a board of trustees, half appointed by management (the networks, studios, advertisers) and the other half appointed by the SAG-AFTRA National Board. All of the union side of Trustees on the health plan were appointed by the ruling regime, many of whom are current and former party members. Thus, any claims that SAG-AFTRA has no control over the actions of the health plan are untrue and simply a defense of the actions of their political allies whom they’ve placed on the board of trustees.
Did you also wonder where our President’s outrage was at the actions of the plan and why she instead was defending the indefensible?
PLAN BENEFITS REDUCED ANYTIME, ONLY IMPROVED IN CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS
SAG-AFTRA leadership has accepted a perverse paradigm. The health plan is an employer provided benefit, like when you work in any other profession for any other company.
Employers are equally responsible for the financial health of the plan, and yet, instead of providing additional funding to sustain the current plan when necessary, they make us, their employees, pay for it out of our own paychecks, by making us negotiate for it during our contract negotiations, giving up raises and other important proposals to improve the lives of our members. Yet we don’t make them negotiate cost-saving changes to the health plan with us. They do it anytime they want.
It only stands to reason that if we need to negotiate to make the plan better, they need to negotiate to make it worse. In the meanwhile, our employers are responsible for maintaining the status quo.
In the business world, when your contract is up and your employer wants to retain your services, you negotiate for how much more you’ll get, not, “We’ll pay you more salary, but you’ll have a worse health plan.” For decades, our union always successfully negotiated for more, not like it is now where we’re constantly giving hard-won things away.
THE PLAN DEPENDS ON CONTRIBUTION CAPS NOT RAISED IN 40 YEARS
Our benefit plans are funded from employer contributions, paid as a percentage on top of our wages, currently 20.5% on theatrical and 18.5% on commercial work. But those contributions are capped per project type and per employer, meaning after those caps are reached, not only will no more pension and health contributions be made to the plans, but income from those projects and employers will no longer count towards helping you qualify for benefits. That’s why stars who still make tons of money from residuals don’t even qualify for our union’s health plan. They capped out long ago.
The contribution caps have not been raised for TV since 1982, the year the AMPTP was formed, and the features cap since 2005, and that is the primary reason our health and pension plans are underfunded. That’s why it was supposed to be one of the four main objectives to achieve in our last TV/Theatrical contract negotiation. Our health plan benefits have been eroded away in attempts to compensate; reduced benefits, premiums, higher earnings thresholds, and now kicking seniors off the plan. All of this would have been unnecessary had the employer contribution caps been raised regularly over the past 40 years.
The caps must be raised, adjusted for inflation:
~$41,000 for Half Hour (currently $15,000–1982)
~$67,000 for One Hour (currently $24,500–1982)
~$313,000 for Features (currently $232,000–2005)
FOR-PROFIT VIA BENEFITS USED INSTEAD OF OUR SISTER NONPROFITS
Even though sister non-profit support companies The Actors Fund (TAF) and the Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF) have a free program for helping members called Entertainment Health Insurance Solutions (EHIS), the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan and SAG-AFTRA engaged in a three-year contract, promoted, and continue to promote, a for-profit broker called Via Benefits to the membership, even going so far as to state, even now on their website, that members are required to use Via Benefits to get and use a Health Reimbursement Account, which is not true. Using the services of TAF and MPTF also give members access to HRAs.
The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan did not need to use Via Benefits, and could have used EHIS for the plan options. That way any income from commissions would go to our sister organizations and fund programs that help our members.
The SAG-AFTRA National Board must appoint new Trustees to the Health Plan who will not allow benefits to be reduced and earnings thresholds to be increased, and insist that employers provide the additional funding needed outside of negotiations, to sustain and maintain the plan. SAG-AFTRA members should not have to bargain away their raises or working conditions to sustain a plan already agreed to by employers.
Trustees of the Health Plan should not be allowed to serve on negotiating committees, if they are not allowed to disclose the state of the plans, thus downplaying or withholding information that misleads our members and fellow negotiators from prioritizing properly.
Denying the LA Local’s attempt to reform our broken election system
In the 2019 election, LA members overwhelmingly voted for change, and for the first time in a dozen years, there was a different leadership community with, not just a majority, but a supermajority on the Local board, which meant we had enough votes to make changes to our Local Constitution, which requires a ⅔ vote.
We entered our terms with excitement and energy, and got right to work on efforts to reform our Local, expand our growing programming, invite more members into committee service, and continue to innovate new ideas to support our members, not knowing that less than 7 months in, we’d be shut down by President Carteris and the ruling regime using the pandemic as an excuse. The industry was necessarily shut down, but the at-home work and volunteerism by our staff, elected members ,and committee members was completely unnecessary.
However, one of our highest priorities was to fix our broken election system in LA, created by UFS leaders in 2014, that allows resigning board members to choose their own replacement. This suppressed our democracy, because celebrities with no intent to serve can run just to win seats then resign and give their positions to their political allies.
Not one of our 24 other Locals does it that way. Not a single other democratic system we can find does it that way. Because under this system, you can’t have any confidence that who you vote for will actually be the one to serve you. Candidates can bait and switch with impunity.
In March 2020, COVID hit and all Local programming was shut down: no board meetings, committee meetings, events, classes, nothing; not virtually or in person.
But thanks to the perseverance and focused attention to this issue by the Chair and Vice-Chair of LA’s Government Review Committee (GRC) Richard Hadfield and Matt Kavanaugh, our committee was able to meet, discuss, approve, and send the LA Local Board a resolution to change our constitution to be just like every other Local: when someone resigns, the board nominates, discusses, and votes on the replacement.
However, as the lockdown became prolonged, eventually we were allowed to have occasional virtual Local Board meetings with Gabrielle’s permission but she had to approve the agenda, limiting us to whatever she considered “necessary and essential.” That’s right. The leader of the political party LA members voted out of Local control in 2019 got to decide what we could do or discuss in our Local Board meetings.
By the December 7th LA Local Board meeting, we finally got the LA Constitutional election reform resolution on the agenda and it passed by exactly a ⅔ vote, despite being opposed by every member of UFS. Pro-reform board members called in from all around the world to make sure it passed and our members’ voices were heard.
All that was left was the approval of the National Board, which has always been a formality.
The National Board, controlled by the ruling regime, REJECTED our reform. It was the first time in our history that a Local was denied the right to self-govern, and not just any Local, but the one representing the majority of our entire union’s membership.
Here’s what I wrote on February 6th, 2021 after that National Board Meeting:
Tonight, the SAG-AFTRA national board rejected the constitutional reform that was passed by a supermajority of the Los Angeles Local Board that represents 82,000 SAG-AFTRA members, which would bring our constitution in line with how every other Local handles board vacancies and replacements and would have fixed the issue where political parties in LA run high-profile members who have no intent on serving just to win seats which they then immediately resign from and appoint their party members who were not elected.
When Local Boards pass constitutional changes, which require a 2/3 vote, they are supposed to be presented to the national board directly for approval, but for the first time, the National Governance Review Committee (GRC) intercepted the LA Local’s passed change and instead proposed a different change that would preserve the ability for the resigning board member to designate their replacement.
The National GRC was seated by National President Gabrielle Carteris with 13 members from her political party in Los Angeles, but none who were actually elected to the LA Local Board or from the MembershipFirst party or independents who were elected to a supermajority of the board. Only two of those 13 UFS members on the National GRC are members of the LA Local GRC, and one was the only one who voted against the constitutional change in the LA Local GRC when this change was being discussed and proposed.
So the LA Local had almost no advocates in the National GRC meetings that intercepted and chose to pervert the LA Local constitutional reform except for those two members, one who himself was not elected to the Local and National Board but politically appointed by use of the resignation policy our constitutional reform was meant to fix, when he replaced Kate Flannery who resigned two weeks after being elected to the LA Local Board in 2019.
Here was my written statement that I read in the National Board meeting:
“The LA Local Constitution was changed in 2014 to what it is now, which, regardless of its intentions at the time, has made it possible for high profile members, with no actual intent to serve, to run just to win spots, from which they then immediately resign and appoint someone from their political party who was not elected. It has eroded the faith our members have in our Local elections because we can’t have any confidence that who we vote for will actually serve if elected.
In our Local GRC meetings, the question came up of who does a Board seat belong to, the individual elected member or the membership as a whole? The prevailing opinion was that our positions don’t belong to us but to the members. Unless we move to another voting system, like Approval or Ranked Choice Voting, that documents who our members would prefer next in line, it would be unworkable to run a new election for every vacancy.
But a Local’s Board is the next best thing, something indicated by the fact that all other Locals apart from LA handle their vacancies by board decision. Also, in LA, pre-COVID, our Local Board meetings are open to members to attend, providing an additional layer of transparency and accountability for the replacement process, if our constitutional change is approved.
Our original motion just brings us back in line with the rest of the Locals’ own constitutions.
In my four years of service in this room, I don’t recall a single instance where the National Governance Review Committee interfered with any Local’s constitutional changes. As far as I understood and experienced, national board approval was a respectful formality, and intended to intercept only problematic or extreme changes.
The wishes of 82,000 members as expressed through a supermajority of their Local leadership are asking for this change. Please consider the message it sends to LA members if this body rejects their request, and establishes one rule for LA and another for every other Local.
If we are ever to move towards more unity and solidarity, I respectfully ask that you allow the LA Local to change our constitution in a way that gives our members more transparency and faith in their Local governance.”
This is the saddest day of my participation in national SAG-AFTRA board meetings. We witnessed open discrimination against the LA Local’s attempt to reform our constitution simply because the political regime that controls the National Board had the power to do so, and abused that power to do so. Members from the one post-merger dominant political regime that goes by different names in different Locals struck down a proposal by the largest Local, that represents the majority of the members of the union, that elected new leadership in a supermajority, that simply desired to have the same board replacement policy as the rest of the Locals.
This is the strongest example of the corrupt partisanship and oppression occurring within SAG-AFTRA. It’s an embarrassment and needs to be exposed. It sets a dangerous precedent that if a political party controls the national board, they can reject any attempt by a Local to protect itself by reforming their election systems.
The LA Local and its members have no autonomy and no voice in national leadership. The members of SAG-AFTRA need to know this and we desperately need our members in the Locals outside LA to help us change this kind of leadership.
Part IV — Complete List of Needed Changes and Reforms
Now back to the positive stuff.
I went through all of my notes from my past five years in union service and put together a list of every reform, action, and change that members have suggested or that I believe are important that we should consider and discuss moving forward to make our union the best it can be. I don’t necessarily agree with all of them but I think all are important to think through.
It’s a lot, but I want you to always have this list in your inbox. Someday it may come in handy.
These are quick bullet points. Every one of them will require a thoughtful conversation.
1. EXTERNAL ISSUES
Things we need to change outside the union for all our members:
State, Local, and Federal Government
- Advocate for tax incentives to keep productions in the USA and make them union.
- Lobby congress to exempt SAG-AFTRA from federal Fi-Core laws.
- Repeal state right-to-work laws, requiring union membership to work union jobs.
- Regulate talent managers and talent agencies in every state.
Our Benefit Plans — Health & Pension
- Restore the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan by reversing all 2021 changes.
- Negotiate to decrease or eliminate premiums and improve plan benefits.
- No reductions of plan without negotiations. If we need to negotiate to fund the plan, they need to negotiate to reduce the plan. Our position should be that the employers are responsible for keeping the plan adequately funded without any reduction of benefits.
- Investigate the viability of a basic health plan tier open to all members regardless of earnings.
- Replace the current union-side trustees of the Health Plan for their failure to protect the plan.
- Require trustees to share key plan information with negotiating committees to ensure they can effectively assess the state of the health plan ahead of negotiations.
- Investigate the choice of Via Benefits as the vendor for health insurance brokerage, when MPTF and TAF’s EHIS is a free, viable alternative.
- Investigate the claims that members are being improperly billed for services and products not necessary, and then told to ignore it by Plan representatives.
- Fix the Split Earnings issue between the two pension plans to help more members qualify for retirement benefits.
- Restore pension equity with staff so members and staff enjoy the same pension benefits.
Sister Unions, Guilds, and Associations
- Re-establish an interguild council with regular meetings of leaders from all the entertainment unions, guilds, and associations, starting with DGA, WGA, IATSE, and Teamsters.
- Support the Casting Society of America’s (CSA) efforts to secure an Academy Award category.
- Renegotiate an Agency Franchise Agreement with the Association of Talent Agents (ATA).
- Institute a training program with the Producers Guild of America (PGA) to better educate our members and reduce the amount of violations and claims.
Our Support Companies
- Work with SAG Indie to create better tools to educate and support our employers.
- Establish clarity between the union and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation to avoid duplication of programs, and ensure quality control over any member education programming.
2. INTERNAL ISSUES — ALL MEMBERS
There are things we need to change within our union that affect all our members:
Fiscal Responsibility and Transparency
- Building equity and saving money by owning our own buildings instead of renting them.
- Publish an annual financial report every year to the membership for their review, as does Actors Equity Association (AEA) and the WGA.
- Eliminating the crippling political partisan infighting within our union’s leadership.
- Eliminate the culture of intimidation, retaliation and fear that has created an unsafe environment for members to advocate for themselves and others. Voices of critique or dissent must be protected and valued instead of punished.
- Improve our staff customer service so members and employers see our union as a great partner instead of an impediment or adversary when trying to get the right information and creating work.
- Refocus the union to serve all members, not just the highest profile and earners.
- Truth and transparency in all SAG-AFTRA communications
- Treat our members like adults who can handle complex information and engage in difficult conversations.
- Establish standardized, high-quality member orientations in all Locals to educate members and pre-members about SAG-AFTRA and their duties and opportunities as members.
- Establish high quality, nationwide Conservatory craft education programming, available for and open to members of all Locals.
- Invest in union literacy and contract educational videos and make them available on the union’s website and free-to-access video streaming platforms.
- Automate enforcement of contract provisions that if enforced by a member would potentially subject them to retaliation.
- Strictly enforce contract provisions that cannot be automated.
- Create a culture where productions are strongly incentivized to not violate the contract.
- Create penalties for contract violations claims to dissuade productions from treating valid claims like no-interest loans.
- Resume enforcement of CBA Schedule A, Section 15(B) entitling members to pay for auditions or self tapes if they were asked to prepare work and are not hired.
- Resume enforcement of CBA Section 47(B) requiring AMPTP-employed casting directors and the CSA to jointly sponsor and attend showcases to provide our members with access to casting.
- Establish a negotiation culture that does not give away anything gained to employers, only negotiates for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.
- Reject the concept and practice of acceding to “pattern bargaining”.
- Index all rates contained in contracts to a fraction of scale, preventing future use of negotiating capital for updating individual numbers.
- Negotiate for automatic cost of living increases into every contact.
- Negotiating committees must have at least one member representing each member category affected by the contact.
- Negotiating committee members must have work experience in the jurisdiction of the contract being negotiated.
- Empower negotiating committees with a strike authorization before they begin negotiations.
- Address the unauthorized use of a member’s likeness or voice in emerging technologies such as voice licensing, deep fakes, AI and and video dubbing, and digital avatars.
- Increase the Employer Pension and Health Contribution Caps from current rates to those adjusted for inflation since 1982 for TV and 2005 for film.
- Eliminate unfair options and exclusivity agreements that prevent members from working.
- No exclusivity for recurring guest stars, short-order series, or fractional series performers.
- Prohibit the practice of advanced payment of residuals in initial compensation.
- Eliminate or redefine the concept of Producers Base to protect our travel provisions.
- Restore practice of Portal to Portal for rest periods, travel, and work time.
- Coverage of under 20 minute new media content.
- Single-parent childcare accommodation for primary caregivers.
- Theatrical exhibition residuals above certain revenue thresholds for features.
- Require that either hardcopies or electronic copies of the relevant contracts be accessible or available at all W&W meetings.
- Any discounting of scale rates to establish jurisdiction in a new market or medium must come with an automatic revert clause back to scale when the market matures by reaching certain mutually accepted milestones.
- Prohibit staff from negotiating contracts without member involvement and oversight.
- Strictly abide by the constitutional requirement that all contracts that are industry wide and/or affect a significant portion of the membership should go before the membership for ratification.
- Residuals: Increase new media residuals by:
- Ensuring the highest possible Total Actual Compensation (TAC)
- increasing our percentage of Distributors Gross Receipts.
- make P&H contributions payable on top, not inclusive of DGR %.
- eliminate discount for foreign use.
- Self-monitor, audit, and/or use technology (like blockchain) to encode our residuals formulas directly into digital media files to trigger automatic payments upon exhibition and ensure employers cannot escape from their residuals payments obligations.
- Consider a different formula for calculating streaming residuals considering our percentages of DGR are split between far more individuals than those of DGA or WGA members.
- Lower the threshold that triggers a contract Minority Report to 25% and make it mandatory not optional if that threshold is met and the minority is willing.
- Anything less than scale rate is a deferment or an investment in the project, to be paid in full when the project generates sufficient revenue.
- Add LGTBQ+ to the diversity incentive, where applicable.
- Make all Local Presidents the or one of the National Board Members from their Local.
- LA Local Constitutional change of the current replacement policy to Board decision (rejected by the current national board majority because of politics) or next highest vote getter.
- Constitutional Reform that all National Vice Presidents must have at least been elected as Convention Delegates, if not Local or National Board Members, in the current election, in order to be eligible to serve.
- Constitutional Reform that all uncontested National Board seats serve 2 year terms, no longer “deemed elected.”
- Make Convention virtual moving forward, to save the union the expense.
- Raise the Membership Dues Cap from $500,000 to $1,000,000
- Provide elected Convention Delegates guidelines for proper resolution writing language so fewer resolutions are ruled out of order, wasting everyone’s time.
- Changing the term of elected Convention Delegates to 4 years instead of 2 years, staggering their elections so that only half are voted in every two years.
- Explore changing the initiation fee based on the member category for other categories besides broadcasters, ie. members working solely background would pay less until they worked their first principal contract.
- Offer a payment plan of 12 months for initiation fees with full membership rights.
- Limit the number of Local or National Committees that any one member can be seated on or Chair.
- All National Committees should initially be seated with the Chairs or Co-Chairs of all corresponding Local Committees, assuming the member agrees.
- Establish a Benefit Plans National Committee to interface with the trustees of the plans and report back to the National Board regularly.
- No members may serve on a negotiating committee if they are trustees of one of the benefit plans or are producers or employees of productions for the employers being negotiating against.
- Change our voting system to Approval Voting, eliminating the “spoiler effect” and enabling members to vote for everyone they support without hurting the chances of electing anyone else.
- Reduce the high costs of sending at least one campaign email to provide independent candidates with a more level playing field than those who form or run on slates who share expenses or group fundraise.
- Qualified Leadership: Establish a minimum threshold of required work experience in order to serve as Local or National Board Members or Officers.
- Automatic removal of absentee board members.
- Provide members with ability to contact their Local and National Leadership via @sagaftra.org email accounts for each Local and National Board Member or Officer.
- Track status of all Convention and Local Membership meeting resolutions and non-confidential board motions on the website so members can see where they are in the process and the eventual resolution.
- Establish the practice of sending staff-prepared detailed minutes of Local and National Board meeting reports to the membership.
- For all non-confidential topics in Board Meetings, record and publish the motions and how each board member voted.
- Create an online Petition function on the sagaftra.org website so members can start official petitions for redress of grievances and solicit for the required signatures online.
Information Technology — IT
- Update internal technologies to streamline workflows and increase the efficiency of the organization.
- Establish a policy regarding the “Local Hire” and “Modified Local Hire” practice to prevent violations of the travel, lodging, and per diem provisions in our contracts.
- Invest in more IT staff to monitor stay and ahead of changing and emerging technologies that could help or hurt our members.
Member Discipline Reform
- Member disciplinary fines should go to the member victimized, if there is one, not the union’s general fund.
- Provide more financial and governance autonomy to all our Locals, so they can invest in organizing, and programming, and are incentivized to grow their locals and make a continuously better impact on the lives and careers of their members.
- Reopen all closed Local physical locations and offices so each Local has a meeting place for members and staff, and their programming.
- Hire more Local staff to organize work, increase Local membership, lobby city, state, and federal government, and provide more member services to members.
- Free live and remote self-taping services.
Deals & Discounts
- Make all current deals and discounts from all four sources; SAG-AFTRA Local, SAG-AFTRA National, Abenity, and UnionPlus easily searchable on the SAG-AFTRA website and mobile app.
- Negotiate additional discounts wherever possible to save our members money on all costs of living and working as a performer.
- CSA Classes: Fund and engage with the CSA’s Artist Development Committee to provide casting education to members.
- WGA Table Reads: expand the LA Local Table Reads program with the WGA across all Locals.
- Provide free, union-produced Casting, Agent, and Manager Showcases to all members.
- Provide clear instructions and resources online to assist members with converting nonunion jobs to union.
Ending Sexual Harassment
- Investigate and address the use of exclusionary and unofficial workgroups bypassing the Local and National Boards and Committees in order to rush the establishment of a monopoly for Intimacy Professionals Association (IPA) to set standards for the accreditation of training institutions and criteria for inclusion in the union-sanctioned registry of ICs, and the conflict of interest for the outside consultant leading the process having glaring conflicts of interest that created an unsafe environment for the workgroup members to offer their input.
- Mandate Intimacy Coordinators on every set where a nudity and/or simulated sex rider has been negotiated under union contracts, with concrete penalties for non-compliance.
- Create a path to SAG-AFTRA membership for IC’s.
- Member-to-member complaints: A third-party impartial investigative team should be engaged whenever an official complaint is lodged.
- Constitutional Reform to reinstitute language making “conduct unbecoming” an offense.
- Develop ongoing educational seminars for members where we clearly define and discuss sexual harassment, sexual assault, consent and coercion. Seminars would provide concrete steps and options for reporting sexual misconduct as well as raise awareness around resources available to victims, and empower members with education as to what their current rights are around shooting nude, simulated sex, and intimate scenes.
- Trauma training should be made available to leadership, union members and staff and required for all involved in the reporting process; including intake, the Disciplinary Committee members and adjudicators.
- Invite filmmakers and other artists working with sexual harassment themes to present to the membership to raise awareness and survivor empathy.
On Set Protocols
- At the start of production, require an all cast, crew and production safety meeting regarding workplace harassment. In conjunction with the safety meeting, producers would be required to give performers a document that both defines workplace sexual harassment and gives performers 4 choices to whom they may report if an incident occurs during production. This document would be presented to all to sign and acknowledge at the start of their employment.These meetings are currently mandated in many states.
- Require posting and/or handouts outlining SAG-AFTRA”s Code of Conduct listing specific negotiated penalties for infractions against this Code..
Improving Current Provisions
- Institute a penalty for not giving performers 48 hour advance notice to review and negotiate nudity riders.
- Limit access to monitors and securely hold all cell phones off set during filming.
- SAG-AFTRA should sponsor a survey of the industry on child sexual abuse in conjunction with the national think tank ChildUSA. We continue to meet with production representatives to discuss other means with which to reform current production practices regarding children.
- Require and enforce background checks of anyone working with minors. A child performer should never be left alone with an adult on set or off.
- Require disclosure to the parents of minors if they will be working with a convicted child abuser or sexual predator.
INTERNAL — CATEGORICAL
Things we need to change within the union for specific member categories:
- Elimination of group discounts for hiring dancers
- Cover Choreographers or establish Dance Coordinators in the same way we cover Stunt Coordinators or Vocal Contractors and enable them to assess sets for safety and stipends.
- Educate producers on the realities of dance work with regards to safety, stamina, and expertise.
- Address the use of Network Code Contracts instead of SAG TV Contracts in order to pay dancers less.
- Negotiate billing credits for Dancers and Choreographers.
- Dancers should get double pay when both acting and dancing.
- Establish a culture of respect for Dancers as highly skilled OCPs.
- Pass a national board request to the pension plans to allow Dancers to take their pension penalty-free at 55.
- Organize currently non-covered work under union contracts, including audiobooks, non-broadcast corporate and e-learning, etc.
- Covered audiobook work should trigger the Taft-Hartley process so nonunion performers cannot work an unlimited number of union jobs and potentially qualify for benefits without joining.
- Make the ease of hiring union VO talent competitive with nonunion standard practice.
- Address the loophole that gives Fi-Core performers an advantage in working for clients who want the same voice for both their union and nonunion work.
- Correct union voiceover rates that are lower than nonunion industry standard, such as jobs that pay per finished minute, as opposed to an hourly rate.
- Negotiate residuals for video game work.
- Add contract language “a member must be employed when…” to prevent AI voiceover technology from displacing members’ jobs.
- Establish Nationwide Coverage.
- Establish a LA Local and National Board Seat for Background Leadership.
- Establish a more respectful culture for the way Background are treated on set.
- Find a more equitable system for background vouchers given on set to prevent abusive behavior.
- Explore the creation of a replacement for for-profit calling services and background casting companies to connect members with work, like a union hiring hall.
- Stand Ins performing off-camera dialogue with principals to be upgraded to OCPs or at least paid principal scale.
- Pass a national board request to the Pension Plans to allow Stunt Performers to take their pension penalty-free at 55.
- Eliminate schedule changes and money breaks that take away cumulative weekly overtime.
- Provide regular “Stunt Hustle” events where Stunt Coordinators and Performers can connect in an optimal environment.
- Eliminate the use by production of “Rehearsal Contracts”
- Performance Capture/Motion Capture
- Negotiate coverage into TV/Theatrical CBA and Interactive/Video Games.
- Require a Stunt Coordinator if a Stunt Performer is doing stunts.
- Address the fact that the MoCap rate for 8 hours is the same as VO for 4 hours.
- Develop our own, cutting-edge, free online casting database and platform to replace ActorsAccess, CastingNetworks, CastingFrontiers, and all other for-profit services that charge our members for access to union work.
- Negotiate with the existing OCS’ to ensure security of members’ data, and data-sharing for the enforcement of union contracts and rules.
- Institute Industry Standard Guidelines for Self Taping to protect members from overly burdensome and discriminatory self taping requirements, and protect the value of their time.
- Define billing in the contract:
- Co-Star/Under 5: under 5 lines or under 3 days
- Guest Star/Supporting: anything 5 lines or more and 3 days or more. One day guest stars paid at triple scale
- Series Regular/Lead: fractional and AEP performers
- Right of consultation for series performers for brand or product placement.
- Investigate the viability of an in-house talent agency analogue that represents members commission-free.
- Prohibition on serious alterations to a performer’s appearance on set without prior negotiation before signing, or a default bump or penalty ($2,000) if done after signing or on set.
- Require productions to make every effort to audition and consider members with disabilities for disabled character roles.
- We have not successfully negotiated a raise in mileage compensation in over 40 years. It is currently $0.30 per mile. Gas in 1980 was $1.19 per gallon.
- Meal penalties have not been raised in the more than 60 years from the time they were first introduced. If we had kept up with inflation, meal penalties would start at $222 for the first half-hour today.
- Investigate and address the improper use of variety show contracts instead of TV contracts.
- Ensure guardians have line of sight or monitors and sound of their kids on camera, in hair & makeup or rehearsals.
- Provide parents with chairs and food on set.
- Prohibit asking children to do stunts without prior notice that either the child or the parent is uncomfortable with.
- Reform on set education, particularly ensuring studio teaching have proper credentials, their name is available prior to call time and listed on the call sheet, parents have input in long-term cases, and require union teachers for our members.
- Establish Nationwide Coverage for Broadcasters
Recording Artists & Singers
- Bring post-production audio work back to the US.
If there is anything you would like me to add to this running list, please send it to me. One day, I hope we can have a section of the SAG-AFTRA website where members can submit and see all our collective ideas for change, and track their progress and resolution.
Part V — Who I’m Voting for and Why
I want to share with you who I’m voting for and why, so you have at least one insider’s view on those who’ve stepped forward to lead and who you might consider supporting with me.
But let me quickly give you the framework for my choices.
ON FRAN DRESCHER & NEW HIGH PROFILE UFS & USAN CANDIDATES
One of my favorite movies from childhood is the cult-comedy UHF, starring “Weird Al” Yankovic, David Lowe, and Fran Drescher, who played a secretary turned reporter Pamela Finklestein.
So when I heard she was running for President of the union, I felt pangs of nostalgia. I appreciate her interest in union service, as well as all the new accomplished and higher profile candidates running in this election. It’s a dream of mine for us to reform our union’s culture so we can attract our most powerful members into leadership.
But there is so much to learn, and the stakes are so high for all of us, that we can’t have a President, or Secretary-Treasurer, that has zero prior union service experience. Neither Fran nor Anthony have ever served on a board or a committee or even as a convention delegate.
I’ve been serving and studying our union for five years and I’m just getting to a place where I feel fully competent about how it all works, but even I am still constantly learning new things every day.
Over the past two years, we’ve laid off a third of our staff, we’re faced with new challenges as a result of the ongoing pandemic, we have a new National Executive Director for the first time in 13 years, and, in so many ways, we need to rebuild our union. Now is not the time to choose celebrity over experience for the top jobs in our union.
Because of that inexperience, I have serious concerns that, if elected, Fran and Anthony would be relegated to just being figureheads of an unpopular political regime responsible for a dozen years of our union’s decline, and completely dependent on those who got them to run to tell them how things work and what to do. No matter how capable or well-intentioned they may be, they’d need a long time to get up to speed, and in the meanwhile, the same people in the ruling regime would be running things behind the scenes.
I love that Anthony Rapp is at least running for his Local’s Board and our National Board. If he isn’t elected as Secretary-Treasurer, he may at least have the opportunity to serve and gain firsthand union leadership experience. But Fran isn’t running for anything but President, so she apparently either wants the top job in the union or nothing at all, which doesn’t inspire me.
As for other new high-profile members running on the election slates of the ruling regime, I really wish we knew who actually wants and intends to serve and who is just a proxy candidate who will resign and give their seats away right after the election. Because I really want to welcome them into service and help them get up to speed if they truly want to serve. If they’re just fronts and placeholders for unelectable ruling regime party members, that’s gross.
A REMARKABLE OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE: A UNIFIED OPPOSITION AND M1
For the first time in SAG-AFTRA history, we have only two candidates running for National President, only one who is supported by every other candidate who has run in opposition to the ruling regime since the merger. Those who want to see our union change direction and stop pretending that everything is fine are now totally unified.
It should also speak volumes that the top staff and elected leaders of the ruling regime have all resigned or chose not to run for re-election. David White stepped down as National Executive Director. Gabrielle Carteris isn’t seeking re-election as President. Camryn Manheim isn’t seeking re-election as Secretary-Treasurer, and Rebecca Damon isn’t seeking re-election as NY Local President. It’s as if they did not want to be held accountable during the campaign or at the ballot box for the results of their leadership.
MEMBERSHIP FIRST (M1)
I am and always have been an independent and non-partisan. I do not vote in lockstep with any party or faction. I co-founded and help run SOLIDARITY, which is nonpolitical, purely educational, and solutions-based. My loyalty is to SAG-AFTRA, not any other group or brand name.
But, independent candidates who don’t run on an election slate are at such a severe disadvantage that next to none are elected, even as convention delegates, in the LA Local. Unless you’re famous and/or wealthy, you need support from a community of members to run and win.
Over the past four years, MembershipFirst members and leaders welcomed me into their homes and hearts, extended me their friendship, regularly participate in our table reads to make art together, embrace my sensible ideas, and educate me out of misguided ones. I’ve spent countless hours on Zooms that never end at every hour of the day and night as we, together, try to help the members of our union, hold the current regime accountable, compensate for their failure of national leadership, and push back against their abuses of power.
While the ruling regime was busy selling us an underachieving contract, M1 leapt into action to educate members, reinforce their freedom of choice, and empower their voices.
While the ruling regime was busy defending the health plan changes, M1 members collectively spent hundreds of hours leading from the front, listening to members, answering their questions, getting them answers, helping them find care, and are currently fighting to restore our health plan and make it more, not less, accessible.
While the ruling regime was busy shutting down all our Locals and preventing us from doing anything, M1 members joined me in unofficial online Zoom Town Halls on topics and for member categories including: commercials, stunts, dancers, background performers, sexual harassment, health plan changes, our tentative TV/Theatrical contract, and general wellness/COVID/check-in Q&A with elected leaders, where members could find community and use our downtime productively.
I could not be more proud to call so many of them my friends and allies in the cause of change, and I am in awe of their selfless sacrifice and profound love and care for our members of every category, career level, personal identity, and Local. I am grateful and honored that they would support me again in this election on their slate so I have a shot at being elected and continuing to serve you.
That being said, we have so much to accomplish, including once again trying to reform our LA Local Constitution to fix our broken election system, and need leaders and their votes at the convention and in the National and Local boardrooms that are dedicated to positive change, not maintaining the status quo and the ruling regime’s control. So I will be voting for all M1 candidates for the National Officer, National Board, and Local Officer positions, and almost all M1 candidates, apart from friends, those who I know add value to the room, and some new high-profile and diverse candidates that I hope are truly running to serve, for Local Board and Convention Delegate, and I hope you’ll consider doing the same.
As you make your voting decisions, please compare the extensive platform of M1 on their website to the one on the Unite for Strength website, and consider which leadership community is addressing the issues that matter the most to you.
WHO I’M VOTING FOR AND WHY
NATIONAL PRESIDENT // Matthew Modine — #02
Over the past two years, I’ve gotten to know Matthew much better, and I am 100% behind him in running to lead us forward. He spends so much time talking with members, understanding their concerns, and supporting great ideas. His presence adds thoughtfulness, soulfulness, and wisdom to every conversation. He continues to educate himself on every aspect of the union, and has forged an amazing team around him, including former competitors, to hit the ground running if he should be elected President.
In addition to all his work in leadership positions with other organizations, he has four years experience on our National and Local Boards and in committees. I know that with Matthew as President, we’ll have the opportunity to unleash so much of the latent potential of our union to serve our members like never before, including our union literacy work.
NATIONAL SECRETARY-TREASURER // Joely Fisher — #03
Joely is one of my favorite new people in my life and union leadership. We started getting to know each other during last year’s TV/Theatrical contract VoteNo campaign, where she was a tireless advocate for better terms and protections, and one of the key driving forces behind the national conversation about the issues, and the increased voter engagement. She’s the kind of leader that makes everyone around her raise their game, and hold their conduct to a higher standard.
She is an absolute force of nature, cares so deeply about our union, and somehow manages to make the hard, tedious work of union service fun. Joely has taken the time to join us regularly in our SOLIDARITY educational evenings, we’ve done amazing table reads together, and supported each other through the emotional ups and downs of this last year. Not only do I expect her to do an amazing job if she is elected Secretary-Treasurer, but I know we will have the best advocate for our members in the National and Local Boardrooms. I am honored and proud to call her my union sister and dear friend.
Joely already has prior SAG National Board experience and her mom, the one and only Connie Stevens, held the position of Secretary-Treasurer of SAG from 2005–2009.
Local President: Jodi Long — #01
Jodi is one of the most thoughtful, elegant, fair-minded and devoted leaders in our community, having served in national leadership of our union for many years. She has an amazing career as a performer, having just made history as the first Asian American to win a Daytime Emmy, spearheaded diversity and inclusion efforts at the union, and led the organization behind the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. Jodi is beloved by our staff and would bring a calm, steady, supportive, and inclusive leadership style to the LA Boardroom.
Local Vice President: David Jolliffe — #04
David is the most devoted unionist I know. His wealth of knowledge, his experience as a national leader of our unions for over 25 years, his willingness to help every single member with whatever issue they may have, his tireless presence at every union meeting, official or unofficial, if he can add value, and his willingness to invest his own financial resources into any effort that can move our union in a better direction makes him an unsung hero of our union to me. He’s a mentor, a friend, and an inspiration, always willing to engage in constructive discussion with anyone, and a fierce advocate for fairness, and our members’ safety and ability to make a living.
Local Vice President: Sheryl Lee Ralph — #06
Though I have yet to get to know Sheryl personally, I’ve had the honor to hear Sheryl speak and found her to be motivating, uplifting, and inspiring. We need more Local leaders with her career experience and accomplishments.
Local Board (41)
#08 Joe d’Angerio
Joe has a huge heart and has been devoted in service to our union for 20 years. His passion is ensuring our union’s financial health.
#11 Susie Duff
Susie is the daughter of a top labor lawyer and is a through and through unionist. She’s also incredibly thoughtful, and a steward of full, open, honest communication. She devotes her time to the care of everyone around her; her family, her community, and her union.
#12 Caitlin Dulany
Caitlin has been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement and bringing Harvey Weinstein to justice. She is fair-minded, thoughtful, patient, and brings a calm and elegance to service.
#13 Debbie Evans
Debbie is a legend of the stunt community, often called the Meryl Streep of stunts. Her body of work is just enormous, and her passion for improving the conditions of all members, and particularly of stunt performers is unassailable. She’s kind and fair and shows up ready to listen and solve problems. I have nothing but the deepest respect and appreciation for Debbie.
#14 Frances Fisher
Our current LA Local 1st Vice President and over 20-year National leader of our union. Frances is another force of nature, having been at the heart of every campaign and effort throughout the pandemic to serve, protect, educate, and inspire our members. She’s also been a leading voice for civility, healing, and unification. She continues to have an incredible career as a performer, living her dream, and yet still makes the time to call in to every meeting she can and advocate for our members on social media. I am so grateful that Frances embraced the SOLIDARITY union literacy work, because her amplification of those resource have been invaluable.
#15 Joely Fisher
Already spoke of my love and appreciation for Joely and my excitement that she’s engaged in union service.
#18 Jason George
Jason is an accomplished performer, an educator, and a proponent of improving the technologies used by the union. He shows up to the W&Ws with thoughtful ideas for better contracts. And he has always been responsive to my outreach to discuss issues and find solutions. I think Jason could play a key role in moving our union beyond the partisan divide.
#21 Elliott Gould
Getting to know Elliott this past year has been one of the greatest joys of my time in service. He has the purest and truest heart and soul of an artist of anyone I’ve ever met. He cares about group harmony and engaging in service with a humble heart and always open to learning and growing. It’s an inspiration that someone with his career achievements as a performer is also among the most humble, caring, and sensitive.
#22 Clark Gregg
I don’t know Clark personally, but many of us know his work in film and television. My support for Clark comes purely from my desire to have fresh voices in the room, and more high-profile members involved in service. I truly hope he has a sincere desire to serve, because I would love to learn from and work with him for positive change.
#24 Richard Hadfield
Richard is a wonderful asset to the union. He’s a repository of union history, and, as chair of the LA Government Review Committee, has been guiding our Local’s efforts to institute crucial reforms. Richard is kind, steadfast, an advocate for our background performers, and isn’t afraid to speak truth to power, gently but persistently, in the boardroom.
#31 Jennae Hoving
Jennae is such a caring, devoted unionist, and fighting to protect stand ins and background performers is a focus of her passion. She’s also leading the LA Local’s next generation (NextGen) performers committee to engage and serve members under 40. She just led a union literacy education event for candidates. We need more kind and thoughtful leaders like Jennae in the boardroom.
#33 Amen Igbinosun
I was introduced to Amen by former SAG President Alan Rosenberg. He’s a working performer and an educator, and what I also appreciate about him is that he took the time to really evaluate which election community he wanted to run with, as he was invited to run with both UFS and M1. Ultimately, he chose to run with the voices of change, and I am hopeful and excited to have his voice in the boardroom.
#35 David Jolliffe
I already extolled my support and appreciation for David. Please consider electing JollySanta. (His big white beard was especially endearing last winter.)
#36 Matt Kavanaugh
Matt is pragmatic, steadfast, smart, knowledgeable, and always makes time to answer any questions or help any members with needs. He’s one of the leaders of the background community and Vice Chair of the LA Government Review Committee (GRC), Matt was instrumental in our efforts to reform the LA Constitution. We’ll need to try again after the election, and I hope he’ll be there to lead the charge.
#40 Eric Ladin
I haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know Eric personally yet, but his work experience is truly impressive. We need more working performers in the boardroom to help the leadership community stay connected to the realities of life on set. I hope we get to see him in the boardroom and hear his perspective in our deliberations.
#43 Joanna Leeds
Joanna brings incredible voice acting expertise to the boardroom. She’s experienced, observant, and brings her concerns to the floor of the boardroom in a thoughtful, non-confrontational way.
#47 A Martinez
A Martinez brings an incredible breadth of experience as a performer and has such class and thoughtfulness, I think his presence in the boardroom would inspire everyone to hold themselves to a high standard and honor the privilege it is to be in the halls of leadership.
#48 Kevin McCorkle
My mentor. My ride-or-die. Kevin got me into union service back in 2015 and together we worked to reform the LA Conservatory, advanced our union’s progress in the commercials contract through our grassroots work in UnionWorking, and now are engaged in a unionwide effort to increase our members’ union literacy through SOLIDARITY. Kevin is a loving educator, an accomplished performer, and a staunch unionist, because in Kevin’s case, the union’s health plan saved his life. He knows firsthand that getting our members covered on our health plan is literally a matter of life or death.
#49 Neal McDonough
I don’t know Neal personally either, but many of us know his work in film and television. Like Clark, my support for Neal comes purely from my desire to have fresh voices in the room, and more high-profile members involved in service. I truly hope he has a sincere desire to serve, because I would love to learn from and work with him for positive change.
#50 Matthew Modine
Already stated my support for Matthew above. We’d be lucky to continue to have Matthew, as well as a performer with his career accomplishments, in the Local Boardroom to help every LA member have a shot at the kind of longevity of career and success that Matthew has had.
#52 Esai Morales
Esai is such a powerful, educated, and passionate voice in our union’s leadership. He’s also been gracious artistically in joining us for Table Reads and guest-teaching at our LA Conservatory. He continues to have an amazing career, and we’re so lucky our union has an advocate like him on the highest-profile sets in the business.
#57 Ron Ostrow
Ron is another one of my favorite union leaders, though he’s too humble to consider himself a “leader” no matter how many negotiating committees he serves on or the fact that he’s the Chair of both the LA Local and National Background committees. Ron is our expert parliamentarian, he’s devoted to ensuring fairness and that the rules are followed. He’s gracious with his time, and I hope we’ll see Ron elected to a Local Officer position and the National Board in the next election.
#58 Alison Pill
Alison has had such an amazing career already. Though I don’t know her personally either, I am thrilled at the prospect of having another younger, accomplished performer like her in leadership. I truly hope he has a sincere desire to serve, because I would love to learn from and work with her for positive change.
#60 Stefanie Powers
Stefanie would bring an elegant, powerful, and smart presence to the boardroom. Not only is she an accomplished performer, with her own star on the walk of fame, but a cancer survivor and philanthropist, with corporate boardroom experience.
#62 Sheryl Lee Ralph
Again, I can’t wait to get to know Sheryl, but I’ve been impressed with her presence and voice thus far. To help us live our own dreams, we now have one of the original Dreamgirls.
#64 Patricia Richardson
As the current LA Local President, Pat has led our union through one of the most trying and traumatic times in our union’s history. She has fiercely defended our Local from national suppression and together with David Jolliffe and Frances Fisher, together nicknamed the triplets, led the DissentingOpinion2020 campaign opposing the last TV/Theatrical contract. Pat has sacrificed her health and her happiness on countless occasions to show up for us and endure mistreatment at the hands of the ruling regime. As one of television’s all-time comedy icons, we are so lucky to have her voice in the halls of leadership.
#68 Sarah Scott
Sarah would bring her experience as a performer and as an Intimacy Coordinator to the boardroom. Already a member of the LA Committee on Sexual Harassment, she’s also been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement and as a survivor, went through the union’s disciplinary process with unacceptable results. We can expect Sarah to be a champion for ensuring members are safe on set and that perpetrators are appropriately punished.
#69 Shaan Sharma
I would be honored to continue serving the members of the LA Local as a voice for accountability, education, and innovation.
#72 Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Jonathan has been a trusted confidante and source of friendship and companionship throughout the pandemic. He served on the last TV/Theatrical negotiations and participated in online town halls to educate members about the contract and his experience in negotiations. He’s one of the most beloved personalities and accomplished performers in our industry. Someday I’ll even get him to do a table read…
#76 Lisa Ann Walter
I love Lisa Ann. She’s another force of nature. She understands the needs of our members and how to communicate with them. She’s constantly working as a performer and on behalf of our membership, with a large amount of her focus on ensuring dignified and safe sets with appropriate protections from sexual harassment, and that our union engages in the intimacy coordinator business in the proper, ethical, and transparent way. She’s also hilarious and makes union meetings so much more bearable.
#77 Kevin E West
Kevin is a no-nonsense, organized, driven organizer and educator for our union. He’s an accomplished performer and community-builder, first with The Actors Network and now through UnionWorking and on multiple committees, including Vice Chair of the LA Conservatory. He is spearheading efforts to understand and evolve our union’s constitution, contracts, and technologies. He’s been like a big brother to me; looking out for and advising me as I’ve progressed on my service journey. He’s also an incredible performer and a regular participant in our Table Reads.
#80 Zeke Alton
Zeke has already transformed our union and I hope he’ll have the opportunity to bring his energy and expertise into the boardroom. He’s a doer. Zeke is bringing his work ethic, military background, and experience at the National Defense University to professionalize our LA Conservatory, and leading efforts to increase our members’ union literacy. He’s an amazing voice actor as well.
#81 Pete Antico
Anyone who knows Pete knows he’s fanatical about ensuring the health of our union and our health and pension plans. He’s also been a consistent voice for adopting new technologies to help us monitor our work and collect our residuals. But I fell in love with him when we sat down for a podcast interview last year, where he said this:
“I’m a kid that had tourette’s that everybody thought would have no chance at life. I jumped in this business, and this union enabled me to travel around the world, be accepted by humanity, create a fraternity of brothers and sisters who love me. And to see it torn down by people that may well have good intention, but refuse to honor the truth in the pursuit of self-serving, disingenuous illusion of power is heartbreaking, and all of them should be held accountable for the damage they have cause the members of this union. The leadership is a mirror of the consciousness of the people who elect them. The entire membership, most of them, are apathetic. We are all to blame. If this union goes under, it’s all of our faults.”
#82 Sean Astin
You all know him as Mikey from The Goonies, or Rudy, or Samwise, but he’s become the brother I never had. We met at the 2019 TV/Theatrical W&Ws, kept in touch, and developed a sort of partnership in union service where we challenge each other to be better and more productive. He’s a confidante, an editor, and the only person I’ve met who can work harder than me. The man doesn’t need sleep. I do. But we’re often up until the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out how to solve all our union’s problems.
Sean is brilliant. His mother, Patty Duke, is a former President of SAG, so he grew up around union leaders in his house. Not only is Sean one of the most accomplished and beloved performers in our business, he’s one of the most ethical and fair-minded people I know. Without even being on the board or on committees yet, the man has poured thousands of hours into supporting our members behind the scenes. I cannot wait to have his voice in our union’s leadership. I know that he will be a driving force in healing the political divisions and help us all get back on track directing our energy at the fight for our value, not at destroying each other.
#83 Jane Austin
Everyone knows Jane from her 20 years of union service, including two terms as LA President and National Secretary-Treasurer, but she’s been my mentor, my friend, my protector, and an exemplary leader for our membership. Jane cares about every member, takes the time to help whenever asked, and is one of the co-founders and leaders of SOLIDARITY, focused on empowering our members by increasing their union literacy and getting them engaged.
Jane is a unifier. She’s kind, compassionate, and tough when she needs to be. She knows our Local top to bottom, and we need her continued leadership in the boardroom.
#84 Malcolm Barrett
I don’t know Malcolm personally either, but, like others above running on the UFS slate, my support for him comes purely from my desire to have fresh voices in the room, and more high-profile and diverse members involved in service. I truly hope he has a sincere desire to serve, because I would love to learn from and work with him for positive change.
#85 Shari Belafonte
I don’t know Shari personally either, but, like others above running on the UFS slate, my support for her comes purely from my desire to have fresh voices in the room, and more high-profile and diverse members involved in service. I truly hope she has a sincere desire to serve, because I would love to learn from and work with her for positive change.
#86 Bill Bellamy
I don’t know Bill personally either, but, like others above running on the UFS slate, my support for him comes purely from my desire to have fresh voices in the room, and more high-profile and diverse members involved in service. I truly hope he has a sincere desire to serve, because I would love to learn from and work with him for positive change.
#89 Yvette Nicole Brown
Yvette has never served in the LA Local Boardroom, and that lack of experience does not make her the right person to lead the Local, especially at this crucial time of rebuilding, in my view, but I am excited that she wants to get involved at the Local level, so having her serve on the Local board would be a great first step, as well as be so valuable for us to have someone of her great reputation and career accomplishments working on our behalf.
#92 Joanna Cassidy
Joanna is not only an accomplished, Emmy-nominated performer, she has a huge, tender heart. Her voice in leadership is always a reminder that we are artists, and the work we do in union service has to serve the members, not the organization itself. She’s graciously given her time to educate performers about the craft and the union, and I had the honor to interview her for a podcast last year, which I highly recommend.
#94 Jillian Clare
I don’t know Jillian personally yet, but she seems awesome, and secured the support of M1, kind of like where I was back in 2017. I would be thrilled to have the voice of another working, younger performer in the Local boardroom to keep us in touch with the needs of the next generation of performers.
Local Board Member — Broadcaster
#100 Sam Rubin
As the Entertainment Anchor for KTLA Morning News, Sam needs no introduction. It’s so exciting to have one of the top broadcasters in the field interested in serving our union.
Local Board Member — Singer
#102 Sam Harris
Sam would bring high-level experience as a singer, stage performer, and on-camera actor to our Local Board. I think it’s time to see what new leadership for LA’s singer members could accomplish.
National Board: (14)
#106 Debbie Evans
I already expressed my respect and admiration for Debbie above. As one of the most iconic stunt performers in the business, we need her voice and experience in the National Boardroom.
#107 Joely Fisher
I already expressed how powerfully I believe Joely’s presence in our union’s leadership will be for our members. In the national boardroom Joely will be a voice of reason and a uniting force, using her incredible network of relationships across the country to get us all rowing in the same direction.
#110 Brad Garrett
Brad is one of TV’s most recognizable comedic actors, and a dear friend of Joely’s from their long history of work together. It’s so exciting to see that such accomplished performers like Brad are answering the call to service. In the national boardroom, Brad can use his influence to make our union stronger and unify the divisions, because everyone, even in the boardroom, is deferential and respectful of accomplished members.
#116 Anne-Marie Johnson
I am so excited that the legendary Anne-Marie Johnson is re-entering service. She’s already spent 17 years serving the Screen Actors Guild in national leadership. I know she feels called to use her extensive experience to bring order to our national boardroom, empower our members, and increase union literacy. I’ve had the great honor to be mentored by both her and Alan Rosenberg over the past couple years. I can’t wait to see what she’ll accomplish in the national boardroom.
#118 David Jolliffe
I’ve already expressed my heartfelt appreciation for my, and so many others’, mentor and friend, David Jolliffe, our current LA Local 2nd Vice President. Others may care about this union as much, but no one cares more than him, nor shows it with their actions every day. Please make sure his voice is present on the national board. He’s our most experienced negotiator.
#124 Matthew Modine
With all the growth I’ve witnessed in Matthew’s union knowledge and passionate engagement with union service, I cannot wait to see what he will help us achieve in the national boardroom, hopefully as President.
#125 Esai Morales
I’ve already expressed my support and admiration for Esai above, and hope we will continue to have his important voice in our national boardroom.
#128 Stefanie Powers
Already expressed by gratitude for Stefanie’s interest in serving our union and really hope we can see her bring her leadership to the national boardroom as well.
#130 Sheryl Lee Ralph
I Wrote about my support for her twice above. Would love to bring Sheryl’s voice and experience to the national boardroom.
#131 Michael Rapaport
Though I do not know Michael personally, we all know him from his extensive career in television, film, and broadcast. It’s thrilling to think that we might have his powerful voice and influence in the national boardroom.
#133 Shaan Sharma
Over the past 4 years, I’ve served as a replacement in just about every national board meeting. This election, I humbly ask for the opportunity to serve as a national board member in my own right. I’ve use the past couple years to build relationships all across the country, in almost every other Local, and know that I can be an effective representative for LA as well as serving the union as a whole.
#137 Sharon Stone
Sharon’s interest in getting involved is a dream come true. To have one of our most accomplished performers in the national boardroom would bring our union more power in negotiations and create a healthier leadership culture. Sharon can help us remind the most powerful performers in our business to remember to protect everyone else on the callsheet, and think like a performer and member first.
#138 Sean Astin
In addition to what I wrote about Sean already, it’s worth mentioning that he held a Zoom Town Hall last summer where the first actual debate between leaders of the two political parties. In the four years of my service, the two sides have never met to resolve their differences, but Sean created a respectful space where we could hear the different perspectives engage for the first time, and it was the first of many gifts I believe Sean will contribute to the union’s culture moving forward.
#139 Jane Austin
Already expressed my love and support for Jane. She already held two of the top positions in the union for 4 years. Her experience and voice is invaluable in the national boardroom.
Convention Delegate: (129)
Names marked with an asterisk(*): I don’t know them well enough to comment, but am voting for them in solidarity with the opposition in order to effect change.
#145 JOE D’ANGERIO — Devoted to our union’s financial health.
#147 LAUREN DE MIRANDA*
#151 WILL DINSMOOR — A SOLIDARITY regular, Will has a huge heart and has already contributed so much value to our union through taking on various volunteer tasks, including helping to build the SOLIDARITY website.
#153 HOLLY DORFF — Holly grew up in the business and has great ideas for bringing our divided leadership together.
#154 SUSIE DUFF — Tough as nails and yet thoughtful and fair.
#155 CAITLIN DULANY — Gentle warrior and advocate for justice and safety.
#157 CATHERINE EADS*
#158 MAGGIE EGAN*
#160 CAROLE ELLIOTT — Years of prior union service and devoted advocate for members.
#161 DAVID ERRIGO JR. — Awesome younger voice actor, who I’ve had the pleasure of connecting and clubhousing with.
#162 LARRY FINE*
#163 ALANNA FOX — She’s all over helping us save money charged by the online casting services. Met her at the 2019 W&Ws.
#165 ELISA GABRIELLI*
#166 JILL GALBRAITH — Such a bright, young ball of energy, positivity, and enthusiasm. Hilarious performer and helping produce table read for the LA Local.
#169 BRAD GARRETT — Iconic TV performer.
#172 ANDREA GEONES*
#174 ELLIOTT GHERTNER*
#176 SHARON GLESS*
#178 ROCHELLE LYNN GOPLEN — Member of the LA NextGen Performers committee and currently working on creating the best agent/manager/casting talent showcase in the industry.
#180 ALANA GRACE*
#183 ELIZABETH GUEST*
#184 NICHOLAS GUEST*
#185 PAMELA GUEST — Tireless advocate for survivors and protections from sexual harassment and dignity and safety on set.
#186 ARON HADDAD*
#187 RICHARD HADFIELD — Encyclopedic knowledge of our union history and persistent advocate on the LA Local Board and in the LA GRC.
#188 BRIAN HAMILTON — Longtime board member and ally for change.
#190 GREGORY HARRISON*
#192 SAMANTHA HARTSON — Advocate for the background community.
#193 CUPID HAYES — Fearless advocate for the members and unafraid to speak truth to power.
#195 LAURI HENDLER — No-nonsense and always challenges me to think unbiased.
#197 LAUREN HENNING — Member of the LA NextGen Performers Committee, and an amazing young actress and filmmaker. Cofounder of Violent Pink Productions, a production house making space for bold, female-centric narratives.
#198 LOUIS HERTHUM — Staunch ally for the cause of change. On a mission to hold our leadership accountable and restore the soul of our union.
#203 JENNAE HOVING — Sweet and devoted fighter for background and stand ins.
#205 AMEN IGBINOSUN — Acting educator and a strong voice for inclusiveness and diversity.
#206 KYM JACKSON — Amazing and brilliant educator and performer.
#207 HEIDI JAMES*
#208 MARY ELLEN JENNINGS*
#210 DAVID JOLLIFFE — Unsung hero of our union and one of the most experienced leaders.
#211 LORIS ANNE JONES — Fierce advocate for background performers and warrior for equity.
#213 CALVIN JUNG*
#214 SOHM KAPILA — Joining the fight to make our health plan more fair for pregnant members.
#215 MATT KAVANAUGH — Smart, pragmatic leader of the Background community.
#217 MOBIN KHAN*
#218 STEVE KNOLL*
#219 JEN KOBER*
#222 ERIC LADIN*
#225 DONNA LYNN LEAVY — Amazing voice actor and fierce advocate for members.
#227 JOANNA LEEDS — LA Board member and extensive voice acting experience.
#231 BARRY LIVINGSTON*
#232 LANCE A LOTT — Son of Jane Austin and Kurt Lott, who has entered the business.
#237 ANTHONY MARCIONA — Advocate for the Dance community.
#238 RICK MARKMAN — Advocate and educator for the background community.
#239 A MARTINEZ — Class and experience that would add gravitas to the delegation.
#240 KEVIN MCCORKLE — Mentor, educator, and stalwart unionist.
#241 CHRISTOPHER MCDANIEL*
#244 LYNN MARIE MIERZEJEWSKI — A SOLIDARITY regular, and working on a comparison of the SAG and AFTRA franchise agreements.
#246 MARILYN MONROVIA*
#247 JEAN MONTANTI*
#249 ESAI MORALES — Longtime national leader and voice for diverse viewpoints in the boardroom.
#250 MAURY MORGAN — Amazing, constantly working performer and dear friend whose experience on set led to a potential improvement to our contracts.
#252 BILL MUMY*
#253 EILEEN MUMY*
#254 GAYE NELSON — Devoted union volunteer supporting the communications of M1.
#255 NICOLE LEANN NELSON*
#257 CHHAYA NENE — Smart, driven, talented performer and friend.
#260 ASHLEY NICOLE OLES*
#261 RICHARD R OLMSTED*
#262 PEGGY LANE O’ROURKE — Prior union leadership experience and ally for change.
#263 MARY OSTROW*
#264 RON OSTROW — Voice for fairness and reason in the room.
#265 LAURIE PALADINO*
#268 PHIL PAROLISI*
#269 JACK PATTERSON*
#270 STEPHEN PELUSO — A clear thinker and voice for reason and unity.
#272 LAUREN PETERSON*
#277 MARK PLANAS*
#278 ASHLEY PLATZ — One of my favorite people. Amazing performer, advocate for social justice and equity.
#279 STEFANIE POWERS — Accomplished performer and philanthropist.
#281 SHERYL LEE RALPH — Accomplished performer on stage and screen.
#282 PATRICK RANDOLPH — Former drama professor and constantly working performer.
#285 JAVIN REID — Activated young performer who’s already creating educational resources to help our members.
#286 SY RICHARDSON*
#287 ROBIN RIKER — Longtime board member, accomplished performer and ally for change.
#291 ALAN ROSENBERG — Former SAG President and incredible performer and mentor.
#292 JONATHAN ROUMIE — My castmate, playing Jesus on “The Chosen.” Eager to contribute to creating a stronger union and more union literate membership.
#296 AL SAPIENZA — Accomplished performer activated by the healthcare changes.
#299 SARAH SCOTT — Performer, Activist for set safety, and Intimacy Coordinator.
#301 SHAAN SHARMA — Me! This would be my 3rd convention, where I’ve brought multiple resolutions to reform our union and serve our Local Conservatory.
#302 NIK SHRINER — Younger, activated member who was so helpful in getting the word out during last year’s VoteNO campaign.
#309 CONNIE STEVENS — Legendary performer, former SAG Secretary-Treasurer and Joely’s mom.
#311 ALANA COLLINS STEWART*
#314 SHARON STONE — Academy-award-winning actor and activist.
#317 RENEE TAYLOR — former series performer with Fran Drescher on The Nanny.
#320 ERIN TILLMAN — Intimacy Coordinator and Empowerment Coach.
#325 BILLY VERA*
#327 KATIE VON TILL — National Commercial Performers Committee Chair and LA Board member.
#328 LISA ANN WALTER — Talented, hilarious and hard working performer and advocate for members.
#330 NAOMI WATSON*
#339 BEN ZELEVANSKY — Helped build the SOLIDARITY website and continues to help us evolve our union literacy work.
#340 CHERI ADAMS*
#343 ZEKE ALTON — Navy veteran, amazing voice actor, and force for professionalizing our LA Conservatory.
#345 JENNIFER LYNN ANDERSEN*
#347 SEAN ASTIN — Lifelong star performer and the hardest working union leader who hasn’t even been elected yet.
#348 JANE AUSTIN — Two-term LA President and Secretary-Treasurer and union literacy educator in SOLIDARITY.
#349 RACHEL AUTUMN*
#350 SHONDRELLA AVERY*
#352 STEVEN BARR*
#355 SHOSHANNA BEAN*
#356 GRAHAM BECKEL*
#357 GINA BELAFONTE*
#359 JORDAN BELFI*
#360 MICHAEL JAMES BELL — Passionate about election system reform, specifically Approval Voting.
#364 DAVID BLUE — Accomplished performer and educator and ally for change.
#365 NIKITA BOGOLYUBOV — Amazing performer and ally for change.
#366 ANASTASIA BOISSIER*
#370 STEVE BOZAJIAN*
#376 MICHAEL BRUEN*
#378 CARLEASE BURKE — Accomplished performer, SOLIDARITY regular, and ally for change.
#379 LYNNE DENISE BURNETT*
#380 DYAN CANNON*
#384 RACHELLE CARSON-BEGLEY*
#391 JILLIAN CLARE — Younger performer enthusiastically interested in service.
#392 CYNTHIA LEA CLARK*
#393 DAVID CLENNON*
#401 TIFFANY YVONNE COX — Advocate for equitable treatment for people of color on set.
#404 ERIN CUMMINGS — Accomplished performer, uniter, smart, and driven. So excited to have her engaged.
#405 SONDRA CURRIE*
#406 JON CURRY — Accomplished performer with a whole family of members. Ally for change.
#407 WENDY E. CUTLER*
BROADCASTER — Entertainment
#409 SAM RUBIN — KTLA Entertainment Anchor
#412 DANIELLE TOWNE — Tireless advocate for the dance community.
#413 SAM HARRIS — Highly accomplished performer in song, stage, and screen..
#420 DEBBIE EVANS — Stunt legend and experienced union leader.
#421 MARIE FINK — Current LA National Board Member for the stunt community.
#426 HENRY KINGI, JR. — Top stunt professional, wise, fair-minded, and ally for change.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read what I had to share. I hope you’ve found this information and my perspective useful.
I know it’s a lot of information, but as performers we can often read hundreds of script pages a week, so I hope you won’t find my reports about our union every couple years too burdensome.
Come what may in this election, I am ever at your service. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be helpful in any way.
In the meantime, be safe, and well, and let’s all act with care.
LA Local Board Member
LA Local Conservatory Committee, Co-Chair
Table Reads Subcommittee, Chair
Curriculum Subcommittee, Chair
LA Communications Committee, Member
LA New Technology Committee, Member
LA Member Outreach, Relations and Engagement (M.O.R.E.), Member
LA Government Review Committee (GRC), Member