In dueling email blasts to the members of SAG-AFTRA, presidential candidates Matthew Modine and Gabrielle Carteris both now are alleging that the other might have violated federal labor law in the course of the election, which concludes Wednesday with the counting of ballots.
“If Matthew Modine broke the law in our election, does he deserve your vote?” Carteris said in her email blast Thursday.
“If Gabrielle Carteris broke the law in our election, does she deserve your vote?” Modine asked today in his.
The charges against both candidates appear to be equally dubious, and would require a Department of Labor investigation to overturn the election if either candidate decides to contest the outcome.
“Here’s just some of Gabrielle Carteris’ troubling election violations,” Modine alleged in his email blast.
“1. Gabrielle Carteris videos are running on continuous loop within the union’s common areas.
“2. Gabrielle Carteris’ election video promoting her candidacy utilizes the official SAG-AFTRA logo as introductory artwork implying the Union’s endorsement.
“3. Announcement of union elections on the official SAG-AFTRA website with Gabrielle Carteris and her endorser, Alan Alda, prominently highlighted just under the election announcement, creating an unfair candidate advantage. (Since taken down in acknowledgement of the violation).
“4. Breach of confidentiality regarding the Netflix deal placed within her official 100-word campaign statement which took unfair advantage of confidential insider information.”
As for his first three points, incumbent union officials have the right to promote the good works of their labor organizations in union magazines, newsletters, video and other forms of communications with members. They do not relinquish their duties just because elections are underway.
And as president, Carteris had the right to brag about the guild’s deal with Netflix. If she violated the union’s confidentiality rules, as Modine alleges, that most likely would be a matter to be decided internally, rather than by the DOL.
Modine came under fire earlier this week in an article in the Los Angeles Times, which accused him of violating election law by allegedly accepting an in-kind campaign contribution from his “employer” – the New York Film Academy, on whose board he sits. The alleged violation stemmed from his use of three short videos the school had produced, which he repurposed and placed on his campaign website.
As Deadline reported Thursday, however, Modine was never an employee of the school, and has never received any pay for serving on its board. If Carteris’ camp wants to claim that the law prohibits any employer from contributing to a candidate – which it does not – then every actor who employs a nanny or a personal assistant, or who runs their own small business on the side, would also have to be investigated for making an “illegal” campaign contribution.
“These aren’t just flagrant violations of our union election rules, but of federal labor law as well,” Carteris told the Times. “It says a lot about Mr. Modine and Membership First’s poor decision-making, something we clearly can’t afford in our upcoming contract negotiations.”
A spokesperson for Carteris’ Unite for Strength had this to say tonight: “Matthew Modine is doing nothing more than attempting to divert attention from his undisputedly unlawful campaign activity—activity that has been confirmed by recognized legal experts. Furthermore, he has yet to address his unauthorized use of both copywritten video and music, and even admits that NYFA covered his ‘transportation, travel costs and/or expenses.’ Modine appears to not even understand how he violated the law. That is not the kind of person members can trust leading our negotiations.”
“It was Gabrielle Carteris,” Modine said in his email, “who actually couldn’t follow something ‘as clear as Federal labor law’ when she used union funds and resources, including the official SAG-AFTRA union logo, to create her own campaign election video. This is just one of many of Carteris’ per se labor code violations which are likely to result in the union having to re-run the election.”
Asked if Carteris would challenge the election if she loses on grounds that Modine allegedly violated federal labor law by receiving in-kind contributions, a spokesperson for her campaign told Deadline: “President Carteris and Unite for Strength will consider all available options.”
In the end, if either candidate decides to go down that route, they would have to ask themselves: Do they really want Donald Trump’s DOL to be investigating their election? Is that what their supporters want? Is that what the members want?
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