The three leading candidates for president of SAG-AFTRA spoke Thursday night at a members-only town hall meeting at the Faith Presbyterian Church in Valley Village. The event was sponsored by UnionWorking, a grassroots organization that seeks to “stem the tide of union busting.” About 150 SAG-AFTRA members attended, many of whom were also candidates running for various guild offices and board seats.
“It was terrific to have a thoughtful discussion of the important issues our members are facing,” said incumbent and frontrunner Gabrielle Carteris, who’s running on the Unite for Strength slate. “I thank UnionWorking for providing the opportunity, and I’m especially grateful to the members for coming out to participate. As I said during my remarks tonight, when I look back over the last few years, I am extremely proud that we have made real gains in key areas. And I mean we. I did not do it alone. We did it together. The members, our elected leaders and staff. When we work together, nothing can stop us.”
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“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the UnionWorking members,” said Matthew Modine, who’s running on the Membership First slate. “They had insightful questions that magnified troubling issues within our union. The great thing that comes from a meeting like this is identifying problems. Once you’ve done that, you take the necessary steps to solve them. The audience and I shared some good laughs, and God knows, we need them. Laughter often brings creative solutions to complicated problems.”
“It was a great night,” agreed Jane Austin, the union’s current national secretary-treasurer who’s running for president as an independent. “I really enjoyed connecting with members, and answering their questions. It was inspiring to see so many engaged voters who were truly yearning to hear my message of change, and understanding that the only way to accomplish this change is to rise above the divisive slate politics, and run as an independent.
“UnionWorking did a wonderful job putting together this event. I really appreciate what they did here – raise awareness about the election, and create an open and civil space where the membership could hear what the candidates are all about from the candidates themselves. After tonight it’s clear to me that our members have very distinct choices for who they want to lead SAG-AFTRA.”
Two other presidential candidates on the official ballot — Abraham Justice and Queen Alljahye Searles — weren’t invited by UnionWorking.
“We sincerely regret that we are not able to invite all candidates,” the organization told Searles via email. “Due to the time constraints of just one night, we decided to invite the three candidates who have garnered national support from numerous SAG-AFTRA locals across the country. This does not mean UnionWorking endorses these candidates. We are non-partisan and non-political.”
Ballots went out July 29 and will be counted on Aug. 28.