EXCLUSIVE: Many of the victims in Hollywood’s ever-widening sexual harassment and assault scandal are members of SAG-AFTRA, but many of the alleged perpetrators are members of the union as well. Which raises the question: Will the union take action to expel them, as the DGA and the Producers Guild did with Harvey Weinstein?
In 2009, before its merger with AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild suspended the membership of actor Seymour Cassel for two years after the board of directors found that he’d engaged in “conduct unbecoming a member” for the “sexual harassment” of three of the union’s female staffers at a guild town hall meeting.
In those days, Article XIV of the SAG constitution, which governed the discipline of members, allowed the board to suspend or expel members who engaged in the “sexual harassment” of members or staffers on the grounds that it was “conduct unbecoming a member.” After the merger in 2012, however, the constitution was changed: It no longer contains the words “sexual harassment” or “conduct unbecoming a member.”
Given the magnitude of the ongoing scandal, the timing and optics of removing “sexual harassment” and “conduct unbecoming a member” as specific grounds for suspension or expulsion couldn’t have been much worse.
Article XIV of the current SAG-AFTRA constitution and by-laws states that members may be suspended or expelled for “engaging in actions antagonistic to the interests or integrity of the union.” A SAG-AFTRA spokesperson told Deadline that this language was meant “to describe conduct unbecoming a member” and could include the sexual harassment of members and staff.