Longtime SAG leader Sumi Haru has died. She was 75. No cause of death was given, but she is known to have suffered from emphysema.
Haru joined SAG in 1968 and would serve on SAG’s board of directors for nearly 40 years. She served for many years as SAG’s recording secretary – the guild’s third highest elected office, and in 1995 was named interim SAG president. She also served for many years on AFTRA’s board, and was a member of the SAG-AFTRA national board at the time of her death.
“It is with great sadness that our SAG-AFTRA family says goodbye to Sumi Haru,” said SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard. “Sumi notably represented SAG-AFTRA and its predecessor unions for decades on our local and national boards, and as Screen Actors Guild recording secretary and interim president. Sumi served our members through her lifelong dedication to actors, the labor movement, and civil rights and equal employment. She did that with conviction, passion and grace. Our deepest condolences go out to her loved ones. We will miss her.”
In 1995, she became the first Asian Pacific American to serve as a national vice president of the AFL-CIO, a position she held for six years. Haru was a co-founder and national chair of SAG’s Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee and Western national chair of AFTRA’s Equal Employment Opportunities Committee. Haru originated the EEOC Career Day and helped develop SAG’s affirmative action conferences.
She was a negotiator of “American Scene” language and affirmative action clauses for SAG’s national TV/Theatrical and Commercials contracts and for AFTRA’s national Network Television and Commercials agreements. She chaired SAG’s Legislative Committee and served as a legislative advocate on the national, state and local levels. She was a trustee and former president of the SAG-Producers Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund, and a former board member of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. In 2009, Haru was honored with SAG’s Ralph Morgan Award, which was bestowed upon recipients for distinguished service to SAG’s Hollywood Division.
Few union leaders have served actors longer, or better.