EXCLUSIVE: The New Orleans local of SAG-AFTRA has been ordered to re-run its recent election. The order, handed down by the local’s election committee in a 12-page decision, found that the winning NOLA Slate for Change candidates had accepted “unlawful contributions” from employers at a campaign event held on June 29. 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.
A protest filed with the election committee by several losing candidates alleged that a local distillery had provided the venue for the event, and the food and beverages that were served there. In its findings, the election committee wrote: “We conclude that there were improper employer contributions made that benefited the NOLA Slate for Change, that these contributions violated the Election Policy and federal law, and that the violations may have affected the outcome of the election.”
The New Orleans local was a stronghold for Modine, but all the winning candidates there who supported him will now have to re-run their elections. They include national board member Olga Wilhelmine; vice president Randal Gonzalez, and secretary-treasurer Kerry Kelly Gridley. All the local board and delegate races will also have to be be re-run.
Wilhelmine also ran for local president, losing to Diana Boylston by just 13 votes (116-103). But that race won’t be re-run because Boylston – a leader of the Union Strong slate that supported Carteris – did not benefit from the “unlawful contributions.” Boylston, who finished out of the running for one of the local’s five open board seats, will now get a second chance at that.
In its report, the elections committee noted that Dept. of Labor regulations provide that “no money of an employer is to be contributed or applied to promote the candidacy of any person in an election [for union office] …This includes indirect as well as direct expenditures….This prohibition against the use of employer money includes any costs incurred by an employer, or anything of value contributed by an employer, in order to support the candidacy of any individual in an election…”
Numerous other challenges have been filed in the recent SAG-AFTRA elections, with the Carteris and Modine camps each accusing the other of violating federal election rules. But this is the first election to be overturned and subject to a do-over.