SAG-AFTRA’s national election committee has reminded employers — including agents, managers, casting directors and producers — that they’re prohibited under federal labor from contributing anything of value to any candidate for SAG-AFTRA elected office. The same notice goes out every two years prior to the union’s national elections, which will be held this summer.
This prohibition, the committee said, includes “indirect contributions of anything of value to a candidate’s campaign, as well as direct, monetary contributions. It includes the use of any employer resources to support the candidacy of the member running for office. For example, the use of an employer’s office or office equipment without charge, as well as a social media posting of support on an employer’s website, has been construed to be an impermissible contribution by an employer.”
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The U.S. Department of Labor has oversight authority over all union elections, and the committee noted that “if there is a DOL investigation of the SAG-AFTRA election, the DOL likely will require sworn testimony from both the candidate involved and any employer who is claimed to have contributed anything of value to their campaign. Further, any such contributions, regardless of the contributor’s intent or the candidate’s knowledge of the contribution, may result in the candidate’s election being overturned.”
Employees, however, can make contributions from their own personal funds if they are not acting on behalf of their employers.
Any violations of these rules, the committee said, “may jeopardize the integrity of the SAG-AFTRA election process and result in a rerun election.”
Numerous claims of election irregularities were filed in connection with SAG-AFTRA’s elections two years ago, but the DOL found them all to be without merit. But in 2002, the DOL forced the former Screen Actors Guild to rerun its presidential election after it was discovered that the guild had sent out incorrect ballots to members in New York. Melissa Gilbert, who defeated Valerie Harper in the first race, defeated her again in the rerun.
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