The opposition party at SAG-AFTRA’s local in New Orleans has won a resounding victory in a re-run of the August election that was mandated by the local’s election committee. Olga Wilhelmine, who won the original contest for a seat on the national board, won again in the re-run, as did all of her running mates on the NOLA Slate for Change.
Wilhelmine handily defeated Charles Ferrara for the national board seat, 151-64 – a margin of 70%-30%. In the August election, she defeated him 56-44%. Ferrara also lost in the race for vice president, as he did the first time, to Randal Gonzalez, who this time got 62% of the vote. Kerry Kelly Gridley won again as secretary, this time with 70% of the vote.
The re-run was ordered after the local’s election committee found that the NOLA Slate for Change candidates had accepted “unlawful contributions” from employers at a campaign event held on June 29 — a charge they hotly disputed. Matthew Modine, who finished second to Gabrielle Carteris for national SAG-AFTRA president, attended the event and was endorsed by the NOLA Slate for Change. The New Orleans local was a stronghold for Modine, but all the winning candidates there who supported him had to re-run their elections.
A protest filed after the first election by several losing candidates from the ruling Union Strong NOLA slate alleged that a local distillery had provided the venue for that event and the food and beverages that were served there. The local election committee agreed and ordered all the races to be re-run except the race for president, which was won by incumbent Diana Boylston, whose Union Strong NOLA slate was aligned with Carteris’ Unite for Strength slate. The election committee decided that Boylston won’t have to re-run her election after finding that she “did not benefit from the unlawful contributions.” In August, she defeated Wilhelmine 56-44%, with a slightly higher turnout.
In the re-run, opposition candidates also won all four races to serve as delegates to SAG-AFTRA national convention.
“We embraced the rerun for one simple reason: we knew what local members wanted,” said winning board candidate Chip Carriere, “They wanted change. They said it loudly in the first race. When our national leadership rebuked their will for change and through biased manipulation called for a rerun, our members stood firm and made their statement again with a louder voice of unity. The national leadership and those with strong Unite for Strength ties sent out multiple emails with personal endorsements of the old NOLA board. These endorsements further pushed the balance in the favor of NOLA Slate for Change. This rebuke possibly states the direction that our movement is having on others nationwide who see it is now time for change.”
Carriere said he also welcomes the ongoing Dept. of Labor probe of SAG-AFTRA’s recent national election, in which Modine supporters and others accused Carteris of receiving improper help from her employer and from the union – allegations she flatly denies.
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