Delegates to this week’s SAG-AFTRA biennial convention will be voting on dozens of proposed resolutions, including one that appears to be aimed directly at President Donald Trump, who has called numerous news organizations – including CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC – “the enemy of the American people.” Trump, who is a member of the union, isn’t mentioned by name, however.
“We are living in an extraordinary time when the news media has been attacked as spreading false stories and as an enemy of the people,” the sponsors of Resolution #1 said in their statement of support. “SAG-AFTRA has, on at least two occasions since our last national convention, issued strong statements on behalf of a free and unencumbered press. This is an opportunity to have our National Convention — the largest and most representative governing body in our union — underscore those previous statements and issue full-throated support for the principles of the First Amendment and the work of our members who work as journalists.”
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Noting that SAG-AFTRA “is a union whose membership includes broadcast and multi-platform journalists,” and that “in the current political climate, journalists have had their integrity and credibility challenged,” the resolution states. “Be it further resolved that SAG-AFTRA believes that journalists are not the enemy of the people; and be it further resolved that SAG-AFTRA believes that journalists have an obligation to seek out the truth and report it vigorously; and be it further resolved that SAG-AFTRA believes that journalists have an obligation to monitor and question those in power, to point out wrongdoing when they find it, to note when asserted facts are not supported by evidence, and to report inconsistencies in the positions of public figures.”
Other resolutions include expanding protections for LGBTQ performers and sexual harassment and assault survivors; banning casting directors from serving as members of the union’s board of directors; establishing a code of conduct and disciplinary measures for members who carry out acts of misconduct against other members, staff and management, and purchasing a building to serve as the union’s national headquarters instead of leasing. There’s even a resolution calling on the national board to create a committee to craft a detailed proposal for eliminating the convention itself.
Three of the resolutions, which are co-sponsored by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris, are almost certain to be approved, as a majority of the delegates supported her recent re-election. One of those resolutions stems from an alleged threat against her during the campaign in which a member tweeted “Let’s get rid of her once and for all!” alongside a clip from Scarface, in which Al Pacino’s Tony Montana blasts a roomful of armed men after yelling, “Say hello to my little friend!”
After the election, SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White and numerous elected leaders condemned the tweet, but the resolution calls on the convention to recommend that the national board codify rules against such behavior. “Be it resolved that the Convention strongly condemns the recent threats of violence and use of violent imagery, and recommends that the National Board take whatever action it deems appropriate to address what has occurred and ensure that similar violent threats do not reoccur; and be it further resolved that the Convention recommends that the National Board consider adoption of a rule designed to deter and prevent such conduct.”
The resolution’s sponsors said in their statement of support: “The power of a union rests on the solidarity of its membership and robust participation in its democracy. When threats of violence or violent imagery is used to intimidate or dissuade members from full participation in their union, we are all damaged. As people, we cannot tolerate this abuse of our fellow human beings. As unionists, we cannot allow our union and its unity and power to be endangered. So, as leaders, we must take action to ensure that no one can imagine that any of us support or endorse this kind of conduct.”
A competing resolution, which was brought by members of the union’ opposition party who believe that their supporters were threatened and intimidated by guild leaders during the election, was ruled “out of order” and will not be put up for a vote of the delegates. The summary of that resolution states, “Officers of SAG-AFTRA who send correspondence from outside lawyers threatening innocent members, or who bully and try to stop innocent members from passing out election flyers from an opposition party outside our Local and National Headquarters, should be disciplined immediately.”
The out-of-order resolution states: “Whereas, recent events have sadly demonstrated that some Officers believe it is acceptable to use threats to carry out intimidation and to discourage others who are participating in their union in good faith. … Therefore, be it resolved that the Convention strongly condemns the recent threats and intimidation by Officers and recommends that the National Board take immediate action to discipline said Officers. Be it further resolved that the Convention recommends that the National Board consider adoption of a rule designed to deter and prevent such conduct.”
SAG-AFTRA attorneys ruled that “this resolution is out of order because it is unlawful under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act for the National Board to take disciplinary action against a member without providing appropriate due process. Furthermore, the National Board does not have the authority under Article XIV of the Constitution to initiate disciplinary charges against members, especially in light of its role as the ultimate appellate body from disciplinary proceedings.”
Another resolution supported by Carteris recommends that the national board “consider the adoption of a membership rule specifically prohibiting sexual harassment, retaliation for the reporting or disclosure of claims of harassment, and discrimination on the basis of sex or any other class or characteristic protected under Article XIII of the SAG-AFTRA Constitution.”
The union already has adopted a Four Pillars of Change Initiative to address sexual harassment in the workplace, but this resolution goes further by recommending that the board “consider the adoption of a membership rule specifically prohibiting sexual harassment, retaliation for the reporting or disclosure of claims of harassment, and discrimination on the basis of sex or any other class or characteristic protected under Article XIII of the SAG-AFTRA Constitution.”
In their statement of support, its sponsors said: “Sexual harassment has been a scourge of the entertainment industry for decades, and thanks to the courage of many survivors of harassment, this issue is now receiving the attention and emphasis it deserves. Along with other industry partners, SAG-AFTRA has been at the forefront of these efforts to create a permanent change in the culture of the industry. Article XIII of the SAG-AFTRA Constitution specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, and has been the basis of successful disciplinary proceedings against harassers, serving as one path for victims of harassment to choose to respond to their harasser. One more tool in this fight would be a more prominent and specific membership rule calling out sexual harassment and retaliation specifically, along with discrimination on any basis set forth in Article XIII. While it won’t create any new disciplinary action that doesn’t exist today, it will better highlight the prohibition and be a more effective deterrent.”
Another Carteris-backed resolution deals with the union’s long-running organizing battle with the Spanish Broadcasting System. “Be it resolved that this Convention condemns SBS’ shameless disregard for the welfare of its talent and its legal obligations to negotiate in good faith and respect the rights of its employees; and be it further resolved that SAG-AFTRA will never cease the fight to ensure our members have the contract they deserve, that SBS comes to the bargaining table in good faith to guarantee that all of its represented talent are treated fairly and that SBS’s retaliatory conduct is fully remedied.”
Unlike the WGA West and the DGA, SAG-AFTRA does not own its own headquarters, but there’s a resolution for that too.
“Therefore, be it resolved that the Convention recommends to the National Board that it direct the Finance Committee and the National Executive Director to:
1. Study the benefits and risks associated with the acquisition of a headquarters building, and the financial and other conditions that must be present for such an acquisition to be feasible and fiscally responsible; and
2. Present a recommendation to the National Board for a set of criteria and conditions that, when present, will indicate that a process to consider the identification and acquisition of a headquarters building should begin, which should be overseen by the Finance Committee on an ongoing basis. Such criteria may include considerations such as a certain level of funds in reserve, sufficient monies in the event of a strike, certain trendlines for dues and initiation fees income, and relevant local real estate market factors, local accessibility, parking availability among others.”
The convention starts Thursday and runs through at the Beverly Hilton, where delegates also will elect the union’s executive vice president and seven category and geographical vice presidents. According to the union, “Over the course of the convention, the president, executive vice president, secretary-treasurer, national executive director and subject-matter experts will present reports recapping the union’s successes and challenges over the last two years, where it’s headed and the landscape of the rapidly changing industry.”
The press is not allowed to attend.