AFTRA election results could tip tone of strike talks

The powerful Performers Alliance, which has transformed the leadership of the Screen Actors Guild, has launched a slate of 11 candidates for election among the Los Angeles area members of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.

The election may provide an indication of whether rank-and-file union actors are willing to go on strike next year after staging a six-month work stoppage against advertisers. If the slate receives significant support, it will signal that AFTRA members endorse a militant tone in upcoming negotiations over the SAG/AFTRA film-TV contract, which expires June 30.

The move by the three-year-old Performers Alliance, which helped sweep William Daniels into office as SAG prexy last year, represents the first time the organization has campaigned for elected AFTRA slots. About 30,000 ballots for 20 national board seats and 21 local posts will be mailed out Friday with a Dec. 29 return deadline.

Daniels and other Performers Alliance board members campaigned successfully last fall for SAG posts on a platform of taking a tougher stance in the commercials contract negotiations. The SAG/AFTRA joint boards then voted 150-0 in April to strike in what turned out to be the longest work stoppage in Hollywood’s history.

AFTRA’s stance

The AFTRA slate candidates are campaigning on a platform of better contracts, communication with membership and responsibility in leadership for the SAG/AFTRA pact and for AFTRA broadcast contracts.

“The recent commercials negotiations showed we deliver on our promises,” the slate’s flier said. “Help us continue our work on the 2001 Theatrical/TV and Network Code negotiations.”

The slate for board slots includes incumbents Jay Gerber, Paul Napier and Russell McConnell along with strike captains Robert Amico, Kevin McCorkle, Gary Mosher and Julie Sanford and strike activists Jordana Capra, Micah Scott and Virginia Watson. McConnell and Napier were members of the negotiating team during the strike.

The Performers Alliance slate also includes strike captain Carole Elliot, who is running for 4th VP of the Los Angeles local. Board terms are for three years starting in August while the local offices are for two years starting in February.

Daniels, in a move to keep members unified during the last months of the strike, asked the Performers Alliance to hold off on running a slate during October’s election for 25 SAG board seats repping Hollywood members. Several key Alliance members lost their seats as celebrities such as Valerie Harper and Tom Bosley took the first 11 slots in the voting.

The Working Actors United coalition, which backed six successful SAG board candidates, has also promised it would run a slate for the AFTRA election but has not yet announced endorsements.

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