Guild moderates draw supporters as election nears

Two years after gaining control of the Screen Actors Guild’s national board, the self-styled moderates are trying to maintain their momentum.

With the board election concluding in a week, the Unite for Strength faction drew over 100 supporters Thursday night to a fundraising event at the Los Angeles home of national board member Pamela Reed. Co-hosts were UFS candidate Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Christopher Gorham (“Covert Affairs”), Autumn Reeser (“Entourage”) and Erika Christensen (“Parenthood”).

SAG president Ken Howard, elected last year to a two-year term as UFS president, told the gathering, “It’s wonderful to see so many young members here. You’re the future, and the vitality you’ve brought to this cause inspires us all. We’re on the cusp of something important, and your support of Unite for Strength will play a huge part in finally bringing actors together into one union.”

The group’s facing off against the Membership First faction and has made merger with the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists its signature issue. It’s also singled out former present Alan Rosenberg and Membership First for allegedly bungling the last round of negotiations; Membership First has insisted that any merger with AFTRA exclude non-actors and has accused Unite For Strength of de-leveraging SAG’s negotiating position during the last round of bargaining by being too accomodating to the companies.

SAG’s 60,000 members in the Hollywood branch have been seeing their mailboxes and email in-boxes fill up over the past month with missives from SAG’s rival governing factions, with candidates paying a fee for having their messages transmitted electronically to members. About a third of national board seats up with the results set to be announced Thursday.

The UFS event also drew secretary-treasuer Amy Aquino, and about half the 35 UFS candidates, including Sam Jaeger (“Parenthood”), Gilles Marini (“Brothers and Sisters”), Marisol Nichols (“The Gates”) and UFS co-founder Ned Vaughn.

“We all know that actors will be stronger in one union, and Unite for Strength isn’t just talking about it – we’re taking action to make it happen,” Vaughn said. “So take all this enthusiasm into the final weekend and make sure everyone you know has voted. It’s time for members to make their voices heard.”

Membership First held a similar fundraiser in late August at Rosenberg’s home, hosted by board members Frances Fisher and Nancy Sinatra along with Richard Schiff.

Rosenberg, Fisher and Sinatra are all running for seats on the 71-member board. Though it’s out of power on the national board, with about 40% of the votes, Membership First remains narrowly in control of the Hollywood division and is running a slate of 29 candidates while endorsing four independents.

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