SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard today called his opposition’s sweeping agenda for change “empty promises” and “hollow rhetoric.” In an email sent to the union’s members, he said that the record of Membership First — the slate opposing his Unite for Strength candidates in next month’s election — “is one of conflict, division and, ultimately, failure.”

Ken Howard“This election is critical to your future as a performer and as a union member,” Howard wrote. “There are those who want to lead our union who are making lots of empty promises … promises squarely at odds with the divisive positions they have taken for years. Worse, they want you to believe their hollow rhetoric is the same as actual results.”

His campaign statement comes a day after Patricia Richardson, who is running against him, released her agenda for change. And though he doesn’t mention her by name, he essentially is  calling her a liar. It’s the kind of divisive infighting she says she hopes to end if elected.

By contrast, Howard claims that his record is one of “real results” that he and his running mates “proudly stand by.” Here is his full statement:

Dear Member,

This election is critical to your future as a performer and as a union member. There are those who want to lead our union who are making lots of empty promises… promises squarely at odds with the divisive positions they have taken for years. Worse, they want you to believe their hollow rhetoric is the same as actual results.

But leaders like Secretary-Treasurer candidate Jenny O’Hara and New York President Mike Hodge have proven their ability to represent you effectively in the national board room. Success like theirs takes so much more than just talk. It takes diligent planning and careful hard work to produce the record of real results that they and I proudly stand by.

Membership First’s record is one of conflict, division and, ultimately, failure.

At this moment in our union’s history—a time of profound change—it is more crucial than ever to elect leaders who deliver tangible results, not just empty promises. 

We have delivered:

• Merger of SAG & AFTRA
• Over $800 million in contract gains
• Continual consecutive multi-employer contracts negotiated
• 25% increase to the rates of all Low Budget Agreements
• Significant progress leading to the merger of the health plans
• Historic gains in benefit plan contributions to a top contribution rate of 17%
• Faster residuals processing – under 30 days
• 100% TV rates compensation for high-budgeted New Media shows
• Outsized 5% wage increase for stand-ins in the TV/Theatrical contract
• Over 100% increase in covered background positions on high budget SVOD
• More work in New Media, Music Videos, Broadcasting & more
• Best in the Biz Commercials campaign
• Strong financial framework that includes a $9.1 million budget surplus
• A safe pathway for the merger of the pension plans
• Multiple Broadcast contracts, including KPCC’s first ever union contract
• Introduction of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015
• Dedication of Historic Miracle Mile Building as SAG-AFTRA Plaza
• Partnered with AFI in The White House Initiative: A Call to Arts
• Creation of the President’s Task Force for Education, Outreach & Engagement
• Foreign royalties program that has distributed more than $20 million dollars since inception
• Historic unanimous convention resolution supporting LGBT members
• More than 1,500 member events with 140,000 attendees nationwide
• New 24-hour toll-free safety hotline

These are the kinds of results you’ve come to expect, and we’re excited to keep delivering them.

I’m proud of our union’s success but I know that we can and will do even more. It is my mission to make sure SAG-AFTRA protects our members’ ability to do the work they love and to build their lives around it.

I am continually inspired by our members. I am proud of the work we’ve done together. And I am eager to continue leading the fight on behalf of you and all the members of our wonderful union.

I humbly ask for your vote and urge you to join me in supporting Jenny O’Hara for Secretary-Treasurer.

In Unity,

Ken Howard