SAG-AFTRA national secretary-treasurer Jane Austin has joined the race for president of the 160,000-member union, saying that she is “the candidate of change.” The veteran stuntwoman will face off against Gabrielle Carteris – who’s running for re-election and on the Unite for Strength Slate – and Matthew Modine, a national board member who’s running on the Membership First slate.
Austin, who was elected to her current post two years ago on the Membership First team, is running independent of the guild’s two-party slate system this time around.
“With so much at stake, our members need to be able to trust that its leaders are advocating for what’s important to their day to day lives,” she said in a statement kicking off her campaign. “They want a union that is inclusive, transparent, and truly in solidarity. The two-party slate system represents an antiquated system that no longer effectively serves the interests of the membership across all 25 locals. The membership deserves a union that they can be proud of, trust, and rely on to have their backs, and I am ready and excited to deliver that to them.
“SAG-AFTRA needs to be strong in the next negotiations, strong in enforcing our contracts, strong in supporting all locals, strong in supporting all performers, and strong in conducting day to day business,” she said. “The only way we can accomplish that is for all of us to get involved in this process. I’m not looking to impress you with celebrity endorsements. I want to earn your vote based on what I have already done and what I will do to make SAG-AFTRA strong and earn the members’ and the industry’s trust.”
Austin, who is also the president of SAG-AFTRA’s Los Angeles local, has been a union member since 1987. With 14 years of union service to her credit, she’s served as national secretary-treasurer and LA local president for the past four years. She also has worked on such SAG-AFTRA committees as the National Executive Committee, the Communications Committee, the Disciplinary Review Committee and chaired the Stunt Committee. She is also the co-chair of the LA Military Committee and chair of the Union Veterans Council at the LA County Fed. She is also working with the AFL-CIO to partner with service men and women so they all have an opportunity to have union jobs when they are discharged.
She said her campaign “will focus on listening to, and representing the needs of the rank-and-file membership in order to create a strong union with leadership that is trusted.”