SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris Repudiates Election Fraud Claim

Gabrielle Carteris
John Salangsang/

With the SAG-AFTRA election coming to a close, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris has denied an assertion of election fraud by her opponents.

The controversy has arisen in the wake of a recent campaign claim by Carteris and her allies that presidential candidate Esai Morales had been negligent in his role as first VP of the union’s Los Angeles locale by not attending 33 of 35 board meetings. Morales’ Membership First faction hit back on Aug. 16 by alleging that Carteris had been duplicitous in her behavior by resigning her local seat two years ago — and threatened to make a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor if she does so again.

Both Morales and Carteris, who leads the Unite For Strength slate, are running for national and local offices at the same time. She told Variety that the Membership claim of “election fraud” is not valid.


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“I believe that it’s appropriate to resign from a local seat if you’re also elected to a union-wide national office,” she said. “Representing the needs of a single locale sometimes comes into conflict with effectively representing the entire membership as a top national officer. My work speaks for itself. I show up and I do the work.”

The Membership First complaint asserts that Morales went to as many Los Angeles board meetings as his work schedule would allow, while Carteris simply resigned her seat so that one of her “unelected operatives” could then take her place. At the time, Carteris was already the union’s national executive VP, a post that’s chosen by delegates at the union’s biennial convention.

Carteris was elected by the national board to succeed Ken Howard as president in April 2016, in the wake of his death. Since then, she’s campaigned in favor of unionization of Telemundo employees, the strike against 11 videogame producers, and for the ratification of the successor deal on the master contract covering work in feature film and primetime TV.

“What I’m focused on are the livelihoods of the members,” Carteris said. “I’m proud of what I’ve done. It’s truly an honor to serve as president.”

SAG-AFTRA sent out contract ratification ballots to 144,000 members in the middle of July, then mailed out national ballots a week later. The performers union announced on Aug. 7 that the contract had been ratified; the election results will be announced on Aug. 24.

Carteris added that such a scenario should not take place again.

“I think that we should not have a situation like this in the future in which we are conducting a contract ratification at the same time as a national election,” she noted. “We should be focused on the qualifications of the candidates for the national election.”

Along with Carteris and Morales, independents Pete Antico, Robert B. Martin, Jr., and Marilyn Monrovia are also running for president. The union election also covers election of many of the slots for the 80-seat national board. Carteris heads the moderate-leaning Unite for Strength faction and its allies control the board, while self-styled progressives of Membership First have about a dozen seats.


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  1. Vested Member says:

    Membership First has long been promoting lies & hate towards anyone that stands against them. It’s their motis operandi — Morales has attended 2 out of 35 meetings. Martin Sheen has attended none. Jane Austin gave away her National Seat when she moved to Secretary Treasurer….sooooo….what a bunch of BS from MF. There are several actors on the Board who work more than Morales & as much as Sheen who show up regularly.

    Let’s hope LA/NY go the way of the rest of the country.

  2. Melba says:

    Of she is because majority. of the membership knows she is a fraud!! She and howard destroyed SAG because aftra was going broke. So they forced a merger down everyone’s throats and that election was fraud too. Lied about the benefits of merging. Active sag members have lost jobs because UFS gave away actors livelihoods to producers. They’ve allowed Non union talent to infiltrate union auditions and David white had the balls to tell union members to recruit non union talent into the union. Carteris want elected president in the first place and now she’s campaigning for “REelection”??? Should tell you how corrupt the union is right now. Members used to be able to monitor votes. Our dues money was not suppose to spent on biased postcards telling members how to vote. If you aren’t a member of sag aftra don’t comment. You have no idea the kind of bulls**** members had to endure these last 5 years under UFS

  3. loco73 says:

    Good to see that the ignorance, corruption, idiocy and incompetence of the presidential and mid-tern elections are being repeated as well at a smaller scale and that those features have become a staple in all aspects of society…as things stand, worse is to come…

  4. Larry says:

    Everybody knows what Gabrielle Carteris is doing. There’s a couple people on her slate that can’t get elected. They run in election after election but never win. Who knows maybe it’s because they’re bald and ugly. The point is they don’t win because the voters don’t vote for them but Gabrielle Carteris doesn’t care what the membership wants.

    Gabrielle and a few others more “attractive” candidates subvert the will of the membership by having other more electable candidates run and win. Maybe they win because of their celebrity, and maybe the membership thinks they are the better choice. However, this candidates that are elected and Gabby herself, then RESIGN because they don’t really want to serve on the Local Board.

    Gabrielle and these other fraudulent candidates then give their Board seats to  political operatives that people don’t want on the board because they didn’t elect them. These political operatives were not chosen by the votes of the membership.

    Gabrielle Carteris is subverting the Democratic process and placing her political operatives, that aren’t elected by the membership, on the Board.  This is a dirty trick and it takes away the opportunity to serve of other SAG-AFTRA members who do want to serve the LA SAG-AFTRA members.

    • Smarterthan says:

      Interesting that you would bring that up. Gabrielle, believing that she should not hold a officer position and a local board seat gave her seat to a MF candidate who had not been elected in years and earlier, for the same reason a U$S officer gave a seat to another MF perennial candidate from the MF slate. She puts her money where her mouth is. Her ethics are unimpeachable despite the efforts of MF to smear her.
      The recently negotiated TV/Theatrical contract is the best in our Unions history with $256 million in new money since 2014 and great forward movement in New Media rates and residuals and “relocation”and exclusivity, as well as $24 million in gains for BG . Despite vigorous efforts to block this contract from being voted up by the membership, those efforts failed and in was approved 75.79% to 24.21%.

      There being a simultaneous negotiation and election campaign ( for the last time I hope) the successes of the of the contract must have been disappointing to MF, who tried to kill it for what I believe was political advantage despite the damage that would do to members.

      Gabrielle is a remarkable leader. She is strong, smart and ethical. She is the only one of the present candidates capable of leading the largest performers Union in the world

      • Biff says:

        If you really were smarter than, you would know that Gabby had to resign her National Board seat because she couldn’t hold two National Board offices at the same time.

        She reached across the aisle because she realized that there were no qualified people in her party. They needed a smart and experienced person on the board in 2013, so she had to reach out to Membership First.

        Unite for Strength is a group of lightweights, who barely work the contracts. The AMPTP knows this, they were probably salivating when they saw the Unite for Strength lightweights in the negotiating room.

        Yes, they’re that unqualified at UFS. UFS, l has caused sag-aftra to be know as an embarrassing joke under Gabrielle Carteris’ leadership.

        Vote her out.

        Vote for Esai Morales

  5. In The Room says:

    I have been in SAG -AFTRA for 40+ years and I have never seen a boardroom run more unfairly then under the ‘leadership’ of Ms. Carteris. Any member who questions a policy is immediately shut down. I have seen her dismiss utterly a petition signed by over 1500 union members who were demanding transparency re: embezzlement’s in the millions of dollars from our pension and health plans. She does as she is told by national executive director, David White. She chaired the negotiations for the recent TV theatrical contract which is the worst contract the union has received in decades. She then spent $250,000 of the members dues money sending out an unprecedented 5 postcards urging them to vote yes on this abysmal deal.

  6. In The Know says:

    Too many falsehoods to respond to right now. Stay tuned. But to Carteris’ statement about running two campaigns at the same time? MEMBERSHIP FIRST made this clear to her before negotiations even started. Six months before negotiations started. As usual, she ignored them.
    So NOW she acts as if it’s her idea. Hey UFS – we have other ideas you may want to steal.

    • Smarterthan says:

      If the writer was in the room it would be remembered that any embezzlements were caught by the staff with the plans internal checks and balances and any losses were covered by our insurance. Unfortunately many businesses run into this from time to time. That’s what insurance is for.

    • Smarterthan says:

      Nonsense. Gabrielle is not controlled by anyone and this constant effort to denigrate staff is insulting to themanyone who works with them day to day and sees the effort they put into protecting the members and our contracts.
      The the entity to receive the petition is the P&H Board of Directors, not the SAGAFTRA Boards, as was made clear in the board room. No one blocked it and anyone affected by the issue the petition addressed were helped by The Union, The Actor’s Fund and The Foundation to find comparable affordable insurance to tide them over unlit they reach retirement age.

  7. Burbank says:

    If Cateris used $250K of our membership dues for HER campaign, I want my membership dues back this year.

  8. BillM says:

    Gabrielle Carteris did the right thing and resigning her local board seat at that time. Her work as the unpaid president of SAG-AFTRA takes up a great deal of time, and it would not be beneficial to have her spread out her duties and time to include a specific Local which also happens to be the largest in the union.

    No one can say she has not worked incredibly hard on behalf of all members, and that she gives generously of her time to union causes of all kinds, and her accomplishments prove that.

    She also, more than any president I have ever seen, has reached across the aisle and included people from all factions of the board, including standing committees, negotiating committees, and task forces. MF was never so gracious when they had a majority in SAG, and it is more than hypocritical for them to suggest that they were.

  9. Working Actor says:

    She’s right. She’s accomplished so much in such a short time because she focused on the entire membership, not just LA. She actually did the right thing by appointing someone rather than letting that seat remain empty. Four years ago, she offered her board seat to Mebership First leader David Jolliffe as a peace offering. Didn’t hear them complaining about this practice back then. Instead they threaten yet another frivolous lawsuit that’ll cost us even more.

  10. WDC says:

    Pointedly, Gabrielle shows up and does the work. All the time. Being President of SAG-AFTRA is literally a full time unpaid volunteer position – and yet she still manages to work as a performer and still show up. In additions to leading the Union, she chairs both the TV/Th and Commercial contract committees, the Exec committee, and feels strongly about getting as many people as possible engaged in the life of the union. She is an excellent leader and has grown even more so since stepping into and more than filling the enormous shoes left by Ken Howard.

    We have both a local and a national board of working professionals, 90% of whom manage to work and still show up and be engaged in fighting for the needs of its members. Why anyone like Esai would run for the top office who has an abysmal attendance record and has demonstrated little to no interest in the true issues facing us, refuses to talk to anyone not in his ‘camp’, and has no intention of even showing up in the future, is a dismaying fact that we as members have to learn to discern when it comes time to vote.

    But we have strong constitutional policies in place for replacements, both temporary and permanent, recognizing that some people have such heavy work schedules that getting to meetings may be difficult. The responsible thing to do, if it becomes apparent that a person can’t serve in a seat, is to replace themselves. It is provided for in the constitution, the policies, and has been the case for the entire life of the union(both SAG and AFTRA before they merged, and after merger). But then Esai would know that if her ever showed up, or even bothered to read the constitution.

  11. Brandon says:

    President Carteris has proven to me that she works for the membership. All I know about the people who call themselves Membership First is the damage they did to SAG over the years.

  12. RIK DESKIN says:

    I’m in agreement with Gabrielle and appreciate how she has kept her campaign for President separate from doing the work of the union. I would also add that no elected officers are paid for any of our time volunteering countless hours on behalf of fellow members. Gabrielle has gone above and beyond what any President has done before and that is a high bar.

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