In the wake of her bruising reelection, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris is calling for unity in advance of the 160,000-member union’s upcoming negotiations for a new film and TV contract. “Labor solidarity is crucial, and in many ways it is our superpower,” she said at Saturday night’s national board meeting. “Our strength is in our unity, and in our willingness to step up and stand with our allies.”
According to a press statement, Carteris closed her report to the board “with a call for solidarity and unity and encouraged the board to engage in upcoming informational meetings ahead of negotiations and to participate in upcoming campaigns and actions.” The current film and TV pact expires June 30.
The union’s two rival factions have long been divided, even before the contentious merger of SAG and AFTRA in 2012, but never more so than in the wake of its latest elections. The presidential race was decided in August, but was only affirmed earlier this month after the U.S. Department of Labor found no basis to set aside the election, as had been sought by opposition leaders. Carteris’ slate – Unite for Strength – controls the national board, but the rival Membership First slate controls the local Los Angeles board. The election and ensuing DOL investigation left bad feelings on both sides.
Carteris also reported on the second annual Labor Innovation and Technology Summit held during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. The summit, co-hosted by SAG-AFTRA and the AFL-CIO, tackled questions about workplace automation, workforce training and technology innovation. “This year’s summit was an invaluable opportunity to really dig into the ethics of automation and the many innovations affecting working people in our industry and beyond,” Carteris said. “Workers must be at the table and sharing in the conversation as workforce transformation is being discussed.”
One of the union’s smaller contracts – the Corporate/Educational & Non-Broadcast agreement – was unanimously approved by the board. The agreement is a successor to the 2015-18 contract that had been extended. The board met in Los Angeles and New York via video conference.
David White, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director, reported on operations including recent enhancements to the union’s website and member mobile app. He also detailed improvements to the union’s direct deposit program and noted several new programs, including a direct deposit project that allows members to automatically direct small checks to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. “This is a great moment for us as we continuously improve our services to SAG-AFTRA members and more effectively implement our programs,” he said.
In her report, chief financial officer Arianna Ozzanto reported that both revenue and expenses “are tracking according to plan for the second quarter.” The board overwhelmingly approved a Finance Committee recommendation to hold initiation fees at their current rates and to allow an automatic increase of 2% in base dues from $218.60 to $222.96 “to take effect as per the Merger Agreement, effective May 1, 2020.”