Gabrielle Carteris has been re-elected president of SAG-AFTRA in a contentious race to lead the 140,000-member performers union. Her slate of Unite for Strength running mates also made narrow gains but further solidified their control of the national board and the union’s Los Angeles local, of which Jane Austin was elected president today.
Carteris received 14,674 votes to Morales’ 8,145, Pete Antico’s 4,114, Robert B. Martin Jr.’s 1,207 and Marilyn Monrovia’s 715 votes. Ballots for the national officers election were mailed to about 144,000 eligible voters on July 25, and 28,988 were returned today, for a return of 20.11%, the union said.
Carteris’ Unite For Strength slate won a bare majority of the 15 national board seats up for grabs, with the opposition’s Membership First slate winning seven seats, ensuring divided government for the next two years. Membership First board candidates Martin Sheen and Morales were the top two vote-getters, with Ausitn finishing fourth and their running mates Matthew Modine, Greg Evigan, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Pamela Guest also winning seats on the board.
Carteris finished fifth in the national board balloting – two spots behind running mate Regina King, and just ahead of running mates Jason George, who lost to Austin in the race for national secretary-treasurer, and Clyde Kusatsu, who lost to Austin in the race for president of the LA local. Other Unite For Strength members elected to the national board include Jenny O’Hara, Robert Pine and Michelle Hurd.
In recent weeks, Carteris’ supporters in the union’s 24 other locals also fairly swept their elections – a clear mandate for Carteris and the leadership of David White, the union’s national executive director.
Carteris defeated a field of four challengers, including runner-up Esai Morales, who was running at the top of the Membership First slate, and independent candidates Peter Antico, Robert B. Martin Jr and Marilyn Monrovia. It was the second defeat in a presidential contest for Morales and Monrovia, who both lost to Ken Howard in 2013.
“I’m deeply humbled that our members have entrusted me with the privilege and honor of continuing to lead our great union,” Carteris said in a statement. “During the campaign I pledged to work every day to protect and empower our SAG-AFTRA members, and I will keep that commitment. I look forward to listening to all of our members, not just those who voted for me. We must continue to work together to truly realize our potential.”
Her election gives Carteris her first full two-year term as president, having been elected to the position by the acclamation of the national board following Howard’s death in March 2016. Prior to that, she’d been the union’s executive vice president.
Carteris ran on her record of accomplishments over the past year and a half, including chairing the negotiating committee that hammered out a new film and TV contract that was approved overwhelmingly by the union’s members this month. The merger of the SAG and AFTRA health plans was completed on her watch, she spearheaded the drive to organize the Spanish-language telenovela performers at Telemundo – the first time in 65 years that a group of actors at a major TV network had sought an NLRB-sanctioned unionization election — and she was on hand when the ballots were counted. The union is trying to get them a contract. She also led SAG-AFTRA’s anti-ageism battle to get a bill passed and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown to ban entertainment website IMDb Pro from publishing the ages of actors – a crusade that is wending its way through the courts after a federal judge found that “it’s difficult to imagine” how the law “could not violate the First Amendment.”
In addition to Austin being elected president of the union’s Los Angeles local, she also was re-elected as national secretary-treasurer with 15,312 votes, beating Jason George (10,953) and Chuck Slavin (2,248). “It is an honor to continue the work that has been set in motion and to provide transparency in union activities in order to achieve many more future successes on your behalf,” Austin said in a statement.
The union’s No. 2 position, executive vice president, as well the seven vice president positions will be elected by delegates at SAG-AFTRA’s biennial convention, which runs October 5-8 in Los Angeles.
Antico lost his races for the local and national board, but was elected as a delegate to the union’s upcoming convention.