UPDATED with SAG-AFTRA and Carteris statements: After a lengthy investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor has found no basis for setting aside the recent SAG-AFTRA presidential election, in which Gabrielle Carteris defeated Matthew Modine and three other candidates.
The DOL’s ruling thus ends one of the most contentions elections in the union’s history, though Adam Nelson, who was Modine’s campaign manager, has vowed through his attorney “to challenge the Department’s decision to the fullest extent possible under the law.”
In a statement today, SAG-AFTRA said:
“We are grateful for the thorough review conducted by the Department of Labor regarding the unfounded challenges to our election process. In its decision to deny the request for a rerun of the election, the Labor Department has affirmed the integrity of our elections process and confirmed that the challenges were meritless. With all challenges now completed and dismissed, the election of Gabrielle Carteris is final. We are pleased that our thoughtful and carefully structured and administered elections process has been affirmed.”
The DOL’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) had received eight complaints about the August election, many of which were brought by supporters of Modine and his Membership First slate, who accused the union’s leadership of a laundry list of election irregularities. The protesters accused Carteris of using the union’s resources to promote her candidacy and receiving an improper employer contribution through her work as an executive producer and cast member on Fox’s BH90210, in which she played a fictionalized version of herself as the incorruptible president of the fictional Actors Guild of America. The show premiered during the union’s election.
DOL letters being sent to the protesters, who had asked the DOL to set aside the election results and order a do-over, state:
“Your complaint to the Department of Labor protesting the August 28, 2019, mail ballot election of officers in SAG-AFTRA, in Los Angeles, California, has been investigated pursuant to Sections 402 and 601 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959.
“Following a review of the investigative findings by this office and the Office of the Solicitor, Division for Civil Rights and Labor-Management, a decision has been made that those findings do not provide a basis for action by the Department to set aside the protested election. A statement of reasons setting forth the basis for this decision will be mailed to you at a future date.” The letter was signed by Brian A. Pifer, chief of the OLMS’ Division of Enforcement.”
More than a dozen similar protests previously had been dismissed by the union’s national election committee, which had also concluded that “there was no violation of the SAG-AFTRA Constitution, the Election Policy, or federal election law. Accordingly, we dismiss all post-election protests.”
Carteris denied any wrongdoing, and her Unite for Strength slate accused her accusers of being “sore losers” whose “frivolous” complaints are a “baseless distraction” that “harms our membership and attempts to prevent us from doing the vital work members elected their leadership to do.”
In a statement today, she said:
“I am grateful for the Labor Department’s comprehensive review and findings which confirm that our union’s elections are conducted fairly and administered without bias or preference. It is my profound hope that this result puts an end to what has been an extraordinarily divisive and aggressive period. Certain political representatives from the opposition have worked to tear our union down with death threats, inaccurate media stories, online bullying, character assassinations, and other divisive attacks. These aggressions ultimately culminated in their attempt to derail the results of our electoral process and overturn the votes of our membership. With so many challenges before us, it is imperative that we all focus on the important work that must be done to protect our members. I invite the remnants of the opposition campaign to cease all negative attacks and work with the duly elected leadership to truly serve the membership.”
Nelson’s attorney, Robert E. Allen, said: “This is a sad day for all workers. The purpose of the LMRDA is to ensure that unions properly represent its members. To that end, Section 401 (29 U.S.C. § 481), is meant to guarantee fair elections, free of corruptive influences by outside parties as well as incumbent officers. In our complaint, we provided irrefutable proof of numerous instances of how Gabrielle Carteris, her party Unite for Strength, and certain union staff, engaged in a concerted effort to unduly influence and affect the recent SAG-AFTRA election. These nefarious actions violate the union’s own constitution, as well as these labor laws, and deprive every member of the union a fair and equal voice in determining the union’s leadership and future direction. We shall carefully review the reasoning for the Labor department’s refusal to move forward, and intend to challenge the department’s decision to the fullest extent possible under the law. This is by no means over.”