SAG-AFTRA presidential candidate Pete Antico, who announced his candidacy last month, has raised $11,525 in about a dozen days on a GoFundMe page from over 80 donors. About half that amount is in donations at the level of $500 (about eight donations) and $1,000 (one donation), while most of the remainder range from $25 to $100.
Antico, a stunt performer and former member of the union's Membership First faction, is running as an independent. MF has not announced candidates for the president and board elections, which formally begin in about a month. Incumbent president Gabrielle Carteris, a leader of the dominant Unite for Strength faction, is expected to run for reelection, but also has not announced.
"I started a GoFundMe account on the recommendation of a fellow performer who asked me who was funding my campaign," Antico told The Hollywood Reporter. "It takes capital to get the message out through the avenues of marketing, social media and publicity. Most campaigns are won or lost simply as a function of how many SAG-AFTRA members hear or read your economic and political platform."
"All funds will be used for my campaign to change the business practices of our beloved union," says the GoFundMe page, "as well as restore ethics with love and forgiveness."
It was not immediately possible to determine whether Antico's use of GoFundMe is a first for SAG-AFTRA candidates, but several sources could not recall any prior use of crowdfunding for a SAG-AFTRA election. However, a search did reveal dozens of would-be members who are seeking help in paying their $3,000 initiation fee.
Federal law prohibits use of funds from any union or any employer in a union election campaign, and the prohibition "applies to any union and any employer, not just the union conducting the election or an employer of the union's members." Antico's page indicates "not paid for with SAG-AFTRA funds," but did not warn that unions and employers are not permitted to contribute. He added such a warning after an inquiry from THR.
Antico, who said he's running his campaign primarily on social media, has focused his campaign on accusing current leadership of lack of transparency, improper electioneering, failure to demand forensic audits of P&H and improperly allowing union staff to have better pension terms than members.
In addition, he says, "our union has allowed members to do non-union work," referring to broadcaster members who work for non-union shops like CNN. Carteris did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In other recent SAG-AFTRA news:
* Billboard Latin Music Awards.For the first time this Miami-based awards show, which is broadcast on Telemundo, will be covered by a SAG-AFTRA agreement, the union announced Wednesday. In 2016, the union organized Telemundo's Latin American Music Awards in Los Angeles, while the Latin Grammy Awards, broadcast on Univision and produced in Las Vegas, have been organized for years, the union said.
"This victory is another step in SAG-AFTRA's efforts to organize throughout the Spanish-language media industries," Carteris said. In March, Telemundo's telenovela performers voted overwhelmingly to join SAG-AFTRA following a successful organizing campaign. A contract has not yet been negotiated.
* National Board Unanimously Slams Accusatory Asner Letter. Last weekend, the union's national board unanimously blasted an accusatory letter from former SAG president Ed Asner and eight others, many of whom have sued their own union at least once in the last 15 years and are or have been affiliated with the Membership First faction. The union's leadership has also sharply criticized the letter, as previously reported. (Antico is not a signatory to the letter.)
The fact that the board's action was unanimous seems to signal that Membership First is less inclined to conduct open warfare against its own union than in the past.
In a statement, the board said, "As to the correspondence of April 20, 2017, from the self-styled 'United Screen Artists Committee,' largely repeating allegations made and discredited years ago, the National Board finds deplorable the decision of these individuals to attempt to undermine member confidence in our union on the eve of crucial contract negotiations. The National Board is certain, however, that SAG-AFTRA members' confidence in their union remains unshaken.
The statement continued, "Furthermore, the National Board approves of the decision of the President and National Executive Director to ask the General Counsel to direct independent outside counsel to review, with the assistance of an auditor, the questions raised in the correspondence, and looks forward to the report of that review."
* New Agreement Reached for Music Video Performers. The union announced 10 days ago that it had reached a tentative agreement with the major record labels - Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Disney Music Group - for a new two-year successor to the industry-wide contract covering dancers and other performers on music videos. The original agreement was approved in June 2012. Details have not been released.